OHL Report – World Juniors Recruits

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2016-12-06

The most wonderful time of the year is right around the corner as 9 OHLers vie for 22-spots on Canada’s National Junior Team for the upcoming 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship. A total of 32-players from across the CHL and NCAA were invited to Selection Camp in Blainville, QC coming up on December 10-14th.

 

No one is ever a lock, but its rare to see returning eligible players not make the squad. Two OHLers return to camp: Dylan Strome (ARZ) and Mitchell Stephens (TBL). Based on their performance, so far this season, I don’t see any reason why they won’t be selected again.

 

Fresh off a 7-game stint in the NHL, expect to see Arizona Coyotes prospect Dylan Strome to lead the rush offensively on Team Canada. Strome already has 11 points in the OHL after only suiting up 5 games ago. His size, speed, skill, and ability to make players around him better is a huge asset for Canada. His high compete level will make him hungry for a gold medal win after it didn’t go Canada’s way last year.

 

Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Mitchell Stephens will benefit from his experience last year and will be relied on more in key situations as a returnee. Stephens is relentless on the puck and will win those battles in the tough areas of the ice. His ability to play in different roles – offensively and defensively is valuable for Team Canada.

 
 

Goaltenders

All three goaltenders invited would be brand new to the U20 team roster including Montreal Canadiens prospect Michael McNiven. McNiven has been a bright spot on a not-so-great Owen Sound team over the last couple of years. He moves well in the net, is positionally sound, and plays an athletic-style game. He doesn’t have a lot of international experience but either do Carter Hart (PHI) nor Connor Ingram (TBL). However, all three players had a solid outing in the Canada/Russia Series this past November and are doing well in their respective leagues – McNiven with a 2.47 GAA and 0.913 SAV%. Hart is expected to be the start, but the other position is up for grabs and things can always change.

 

I felt that 2017 NHL Draft top prospect Michael DiPietro had a chance to be invited, but his sample size is much smaller than the other three. DiPietro was good last season, but was in a shadowing role. He has now taken over as the starter for the Memorial Cup hosts, Windsor Spitfires and is one of the better goaltenders available in the draft for a while. While size may seem like a hindrance, he covers the net well, controls his rebounds, has great anticipation and athleticism. If he keeps it up, DiPietro will get a shot next season.

 

 

Defense

Only one OHL defenceman was invited to camp and that is Montreal Canadiens prospect