Prospect Ramblings: Notes from the National Junior Evaluation Camp

Zachary DeVine

2016-08-01

2017 WJC
The World Junior Tournament is about half a year away, but teams are starting to look at their prospects to build a roster. This weeks ramblings comes from Plymouth Michigan where our scout Zachary Devine is giving us a first hand look at what the USA team Blue and White rosters are looking like as well as observations from the prospects for teams Sweden and  Finland.
 
Team Sweden is a well-rounded squad with talent, size, and speed. They feature two Buffalo Sabres draft picks in Rasmus Asplund is their key center in Plymouth, MI and has been a skilled player with the puck for Tres Kronor. The second round draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres is a leader on and off the ice. In interview sessions he was forthright, and his answers were those of a leader in the room. Couple the character with a solid two-way game with offensive upside and he is yet another prospect on a loaded Buffalo side. 
 
Another impressive Swede has been Oskar Steen. Inexplicably a 6th round selection, the Bruins smartly snatched up the small but feisty right-handed winger. Steen was around the puck throughout both games and played on the top line with 
 
Sweden struggled in the game against the USA Team Blue, but a team with pro-size and that level of skill will be trouble for anyone. 
{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Thompson's great skating gets to a loose puck, shoots from the sharp angle into the empty net, his second of the game, 5th of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NJEC?src=hash">#NJEC</a></p>&mdash; Zachary DeVine (@zakkthebear) <a href="https://twitter.com/zakkthebear/status/760193137256136705">August 1, 2016</a></blockquote>
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Speaking of Team Blue, they might be the squad to beat. Especially when you consider Tage Thompson now sits at five goals and an assist and looks to be on a mission to be at WJC this year. He’s certainly popped up on more than a few radars. 
 
The NTDP is well represented with a dozen players from the 2015-16 squad attending camp. Clayton Keller picked up right where he left off with excellent on-ice vision, elite hockey sense and ability to put the puck in places few other players should even attempt. 
 
Some were surprised when the Coyotes took the 5’11 center with the seventh overall pick, but his skills with the puck are elite. In a year or two, the Coyotes are going to have another highly skilled player to add to the team. He’ll need to wallop the gym at Boston University, but a one-and-done is possible with his skill level.
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