The World Under-17 Hockey Challenge has always been a staple for NHL organizations to get a look at future NHL draft talent and major junior teams to try to scout and recruit future CHL import picks.
But with the event moving to early November from its traditional late December through early January dates, the whole complexion of the event has changed.
No longer is it a secondary event with the IIHF U20 World Junior Championship, which took place the same time trumping this showcase in importance and media coverage. Instead, the U17’s was given national attention, the amount of which was more than organizers could have imagined.
And there was plenty to keep tabs on.
Max Jones, F, 6-2, 190 – USA
U17 Stats Line: 6 GP 7 G 4 A 11 PTS 14 PIM
This big-framed power winger is a fun player to watch as he was using his size by hitting everything on the ice, even his own teammates who got in his way. Jones relentlessly drove to the net, with and without the puck. He really impressed as someone who skates very well, has a non-stop motor and has an extremely strong shot while playing a very heavy game. He was the second place American’s top player.
Draft Outlook: Jones has the look of a top-10 or higher talent for the 2016 NHL Draft.
Clayton Keller, F, 5-9, 165 – USA
U17 Stats Line: 6 GP 6 G 7 A 13 PTS 4 PIM
Keller is a small but slippery and slick forward who looks to create offense and did so regularly at this event. He processed the game well and made quick, intelligent plays. Keller showed a decent shot with quick release and wasn’t afraid to go into traffic despite his size. He has an impressive set of hands and is a high-end playmaker who was an offensive catalyst.
Draft Outlook: Despite his lack of size his offensive skills are first round worthy for the 2016 NHL Draft.
Chad Krys, D, 5-11, 180 – USA
U17 Stats Line: 6 GP 0 G 7 A 7 PTS 2 PIM
Krys was one of the best defenseman at this event. His feet really allow him to be involved in all facets of the game. His hockey sense and vision are his most dangerous weapons and never folds under pressure. He has great escapability also processes the game incredibly quick, his decision making ability and ability to adjust were impressive.
Draft Outlook: A top defender with top half first round talent for the 2016 NHL Draft.
Alexander Nylander, F, 5-10, 160 – Sweden
U17 Stats Line: 6 GP 2 G 5 A 7 PTS 0 PIM
Nylander is a pretty special player. He is primarily a finesse player, relying heavily on his high skill level and fantastic feet. He displayed nice hands and is not afraid to take the puck to tough areas and was still able to make plays in those situations. Nylander shows solid vision and put the puck in good spots for his linemates and showed off an impressive one-timer as well.
Draft Outlook: May be a better overall player than his brother and father when all said and done, first round in 2016.
Filip Gustavsson, G, 6-2, 170 – Sweden
U17 Stats Line: 5 GP 1.61 GAA .942 SP 2 SO
Gustavsson was a surprise as this top goaltender stole a couple games for Sweden and was impressive throughout. He used his good-sized frame and quick side-to-side movements without opening up holes to keep attackers frustrated. He also flashed a quick glove and blocker when needed. Gustavsson was the backbone of the Swedish entry and made a name for himself going forward.
Draft Outlook: A top goaltender to watch for the 2016 NHL Draft.
Dante Fabbro, D, 6-1, 185 – Canada Red
U17 Stats Line: 5 GP 2 G 1 A 3 PTS 0 PIM
Fabbro is an explosive skater with a bomb of a shot from the point. He shows the ability to rush the puck, handles it in traffic and creates opportunities at top speed. He reads the play well in front of him and intelligently makes quick decisions with and without the puck. Along with rushing the puck to get the puck out of the zone, he also makes a great first pass.
Draft Outlook: He has huge upside and should be a first round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.
Victor Mete, D, 5-10, 165 – Canada Red
U17 Stats Line: 5 GP 1 G 1 A 2 PTS 4 PIM
He was regularly looking to jump up the ice to create offensive plays and showed a strong shot and great vision, too. Mete clearly a game-breaking type of player who looks to push the pace. Defensively, he was even more impressive closing off lanes and not being afraid to block shots.
Draft Outlook: His skill is first round worthy but his size could push him back into the second round range for 2016.
David Quenneville, D, 5-8, 175 – Canada White
U17 Stats Line: 5 GP 1 G 2 A 3 PTS 10 PIM
Quenneville was one of the top two-way defenseman for the entire tourney. He is a bit on the small side, but makes up for it with elite feet and smarts. The smooth and calculated offensive defender made some nice passes, showed good composure at the offensive line and even a bit of a nasty edge. Really threw some devastating body checks on a few occasions.
Draft Outlook: Due to his size and the type of game he plays his draft stock is likely as a mid-rounder for 2016.
Otto Somppi, F, 6-0, 170 – Finland
U17 Stats Line: 6 GP 3 G 3 A 6 PTS 2 PIM
Somppi is a complete player that is highly gifted offensively. The puck seems to find him, a natural scorer. He is always in the right place at the right time and that is largely due to his hockey IQ and positioning. He is very calm with the puck, shows flashy hands and makes good decisions. Somppi plays defensively responsible and can be relied upon in all three zones.
Draft Outlook: His game is looking first round worthy for the 2016 NHL Draft.
Dmitri Sokolov, F, 6-2, 205 – Russia
U17 Stats Line: 6 GP 6 G 3 A 9 PTS 2 PIM
A big, stalky, balanced power forward with good speed, Sokolov was the driving force behind the Russians gold medal performance in Sarnia. Sokolov was unstoppable offensively when the game was on the line. He cued late game comebacks and was impossible to stop when he was driving the net. He plays an aggressive style of game, is a big kid and showed some good awareness throughout, has a very impressive shot. Made some nice feeds to open teammates as well.
Draft Outlook: A high end talent for the 2016 NHL Draft who could be a top ten selection.
German Rubtsov, F, 6-0, 175 – Russia
U17 Stats Line: 6 GP 1 G 4 A 5 PTS 4 PIM
Rubtsov was a very strong two-way threat for the Russian team. He showed flashes of electrifying hands and playmaking ability but was always defensively responsible at the same time. His vision with the puck on his stick was impressive as he made some really slick passes throughout this event. Played with nice energy, was always buzzing. Showed he can play in any situation, seeing time on the PK and in big offensive moments.
Draft Outlook: A bit of a sleeper for the 2016 draft but could sneak into the top two rounds.
Vitali Abramov, F, 5-8, 155 – Russia
U17 Stats Line: 6 GP 3 G 6 A 9 PTS 2 PIM
He’s a little guy but elusive and worked his ass off consistently, never took a game off. Abramov was aggressive on the backcheck and seemed to really help generate some nice offensive cycling shifts. He showed nice speed, having what seemed like a breakaway chance in every game. Was able to pulling away from defenders in puck races Has great hands and creativity, showing the ability to deke, score and set-up his line mates with well-timed passes.
Draft Outlook: His small size will likely keep him to the mid-rounds of the 2016 Draft despite his game breaking skills.