Western Canada is the hockey hub for 2019.
The World Junior Summer Showcase kicks off in Kamloops, BC tomorrow and runs until August 4th. Normally this event is held in Plymouth, Michigan but I guess they figured why not shake things up.
Just two days later, the Ivan Hlinka Gretzky Cup will be played in Edmonton, AB. After that, it’s the 2019 World Junior Championships which are being held in Victoria and Vancouver during the holiday season. And finally, the NHL draft will be in Vancouver next June.
Hey who knows, maybe the Stanley Cup will swing through Western Canada next June too. Sorry I couldn’t say that with a straight face.
Back to the WJSS. Canada, USA, Finland and Sweden will descend upon Kamloops with their U20 players in tow. The kids will begin their journey to represent their home country at the largest junior hockey event in the world.
The Canadians are sending a grizzled group of veterans. Not a single draft-eligible player will don the red and white this week. Yet, if I’m a betting man, and we all know I am, I’d wager we see someone like Bowen Byram (2019) or Alexis Lafreniere (2020) earn an invitation to the main camp in December.
Team Canada will boast some recent lofty draft selections in Barrett Hayton (5th, 2018), Cody Glass (6th, 2017), Michael Rasmussen (9th, 2017), Gabe Vilardi (11th, 2017), Noah Dobson (12th, 2018), Nick Suzuki (13th, 2017), and Ty Smith (17th, 2018).
Both Canada and the USA will split squad their rosters to begin the tournament. Here are the splits for the Red, White and Blue
As we can see, the Americans are sending as nearly an elderly group as their Canadian counterparts. The Yanks have invited two first-time draft-eligible players in uber-prospect, Jack Hughes and goaltender, Spencer Knight.
Hughes will go first overall next June. That much is known. Where he plays this fall still has a smidge of doubt. There had been whispers that he was desperately trying to finish his high school courses early, so he could attend the University of Michigan (perhaps with brother, Quinn). But it appears he will have to return to the USNTDP to shred apart the U18’s again.
He’ll be the first player to step into the NHL straight from The Program when it’s all said and done.
Some 2019-eligible players who I’d venture will get a look at the main camp in December are centres, Alex Turcotte and Cole Caufield, and defenseman, Cam York.
Additionally, the Americans are sending a few undrafted players, the most interesting and a personal favourite of mine is Sean Dhooghe. The 5’3 water bug has been passed over in each of the last two drafts but put up strong numbers as a freshman at the University of Wisconsin. He’s a player with an exceptional compete-level that inspires those around him. I’ll be rooting hard for him to make a serious run at cracking the real roster.
Some prospects that should be locks for this squad include returnees, Quinn Hughes (7th, 2018) and Dylan Samberg (43rd, 2017). Additionally, Oliver Wahlstrom (11th, 2018), Joel Farabee (14th, 2018),
Team Sweden followed Canada’s lead by inviting only 1999 and 2000 born players. Last year they invited Rasmus Dahlin and Isac Lundestrom from the draft-eligible group. The Tre Kronor are highlighted by Adam Boqvist (8th, 2018), Isac Lundestrom (23rd, 2018), Filip Johansson (24th, 2018), Nils Lundkvist (28th, 2018), Jonatan Berggren (33rd, 2018), Lukas Elvenes (127th, 2017), and Jacob Olofsson (56th, 2018).
Finland was the last to announce their roster after having a tune up mini-series with the Czech U20 squad last week. The Fins will send a couple draft-eligible players to the event. The main focus will be placed on expected-2019 top-five selection, Kaapo Kakko. He’s joined by likely first rounder, Anttoni Honka.
The roster is missing Jesperi Kotkaniemi (3rd, 2018) but does include returnees Rasmus Kupari (21st, 2018) and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (54th, 2017).
Full rosters below.
Canadian Roster here * The club recently announced that Serron Noel, Akil Thomas, Liam Foudy and Markus Phillips would replace Jordy Bellerive, Robert Thomas, Josh Brook and Justin Almeida due to injury.
American Roster here *K’Andre Miller has been replaced by Max Gildon due to illness
Swedish Roster here (scroll to the bottom of the page)
Finnish Roster here
I put up a few prospect-related polls on Twitter. Sadly, our darn widget doesn’t allow you to see the poll embedded in the article. But if you’re interested, give them a click cast your vote and see who’s leading.
Disclaimer: I have a large Canucks’ following on Twitter
Elias Pettersson vs Andrei Svechnikov
Elias Pettersson vs Casey Mittelstadt
Martin Necas vs Henrik Borgstrom
Quinn Hughes vs Miro Heiskanen
Thatcher Demko vs Ilya Samsonov
Dylan Strome vs Oliver Wahlstrom
That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading and feel free to follow me on Twitter @Hockey_Robinson