Tuesday, August 19th
Congratulations to Team Canada on winning it’s seven consecutive Ivan Hlinka Memorial gold medal after defeating the Czech’s 6-2 last weekend! The Canadians remain a dominant force at the Hlinka tournament sending it’s best (well, nearly their best) to this event every year. With Hockey Canada’s established rules, Connor McDavid was not in the lineup despite being eligible because he has already played with the U20 squad. Imagine how silly he’d make the opposition look? Regardless, this event provides scouts with its first scouting outing of the 2015 NHL Draft season and there were certainly some standouts that came to the surface.
Matthew Barzal – Playing on a line with 2013 OHL 1st overall pick and Rookie of the Year, Travis Konecny, Barzal racked up two goals and six points to place second in Team Canada in scoring. The Seattle Thunderbird is a 2012 1st overall pick of the WHL’s Bantam Draft and has been a highly touted prospect for several years now. He’s in the discussion as a potential Top 5 pick for the upcoming 2015 draft because of his quick hands, creativity and lethal playmaking abilities.
Mitchell Marner – Anyone who follows my work, knows how much I raved about this undersized forward last year during his outstanding OHL rookie campaign. It took Marner some time to find the game sheet with consistency at the Hlinka tournament but he was a threat everytime he touched the ice and eventually launched himself to the top of Canada’s scoring charts (5-2-5-7). Slippery and creative, he enters the 2015 draft as one of the elite playmakers and his ability to create chances with astonishing consistency is very rare.
Travis Konecny – As mentioned about, Konecny is known for his dynamic skating abilities and weapon of a shot, that he unleashes in top flight. With five goals and six points, Konecny was among the leading scorers and should challenge for the 2nd OHL player selected at the draft (McDavid has #1 locked up).
Lawson Crouse – Another personal favourite of mine, Crouse was ranked highly by me heading into his OHL draft season because he owned the size, smarts and power that you want in a player of his stature. He’s excelled already in his young OHL career earning more ice time than many felt he would simply because he does everything well and can adapt to so many roles. Penalty killer, net front presence or a bullish possession player – he does it all. My leading candidate for breakout OHLer of the year this season also finished tied for first in tournament goals (6).
Dylan Strome – The younger brother of high Islanders draft pick Ryan Strome, Dylan is an advanced playmaker with slick puck skills. He’s not as graceful of a skater as his older brother but his instincts and size are admirable qualities. Playing on the same team as Connor McDavid shouldn’t hurt his totals either.
Tyler Soy – Helped his early draft stock at the Hlinka tournament where he was able to show just how smart of a player he is. Projected to be a two-way player that can play anywhere in a team’s top-nine, Soy uses strong puck skills, astute vision and deceptive delays to exploit opposing defenses. Soy was one of six Canadians who registered six points (2G 4A)
Thomas Novak – The Americans never send their USNTDP players to this tournament but that doesn’t mean the squad was void of talent. Novak led the entire tournament in scoring with 11 points in five games helping his nation to a bronze medal. Projects as a 1st round prospect.
Sebastian Aho – Not to be confused with the skilled Swedish blueliner who went undrafted at the 2014 draft (he shouldn’t have), Finland’s Sebastian Aho (’97) is a two-way forward who finished 4th in the Jr.A SM-liiga scoring with 59 points in 44 games. Aho started a bit slow in the tournament but really found his groove as the tournament progressed finishing with five goals and seven points.