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World Under-17 Hockey Challenge: Past and Future Stud Players

Originally Published at TheHockeyWriters.com by Brendan Ross

The hockey world’s eyes have been glued to the ongoing Under-20 World Junior Championship taking place in Alberta but there is some damn good hockey being played in Windsor, Ontario as well.  It may surprise people but the future stars of the hockey world are showcased in international tournaments other than just the U20 World Junior Championship.  Every year, hundreds of fresh faced fifteen and sixteen-year-olds form ten teams from six nations and compete for the gold medal while donning their national team`s jerseys.  The World Under-17 Hockey Challenge is the first major international competition for male hockey players under the age of seventeen and it has become an honour to represent your nation or region.

Sean Monahan (2013 draft eligible) lead Ontario in scoring last year at the U17 (Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

The 2012 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge features teams competing from Russia, Czech Republic, USA, Germany, Sweden and five teams from across Canada (Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, West and Pacific).  The tournament sets the stage for future hockey stars to leave their impressions as many of the National Hockey League’s current superstars have skated in the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.  Over the past twenty five NHL drafts sixteen first overall picks have competed in the U17 tournament.  Among the alumni are several future first ballot Hockey Hall of Fame inductees as well. The Under-17 tournament provides players with the opportunity to showcase their talents on the international stage and prove to Hockey Canada and their respective nations that they will contend for roster spots on future international teams. In fact, only six players from this year’s 2012 Under-20 World Junior Championship Canadian team (Jamie Oleksiak, Scott Harrington, Tanner Pearson, Mark Stone, Mark Scheifele and Scott Wedgewood) did not suit up in the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge when they were eligible.

During the last year`s 2011 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge several projected top prospects for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft were among the scoring leaders including Matthew Dumba (Pacific), Charles Hudon (Quebec), Jacob Trouba (USA), Michael Matheson (Quebec), Teuvo Teravainen (Finland) and Griffin Reinhart (Pacific).  The past stars of the Under-17 tournament have moved on but prepare yourselves for the next wave of hockey talent.

TEAM ONTARIO

Notable Former Team Ontario First Round NHL Picks: 

Brendan Shanahan (’86), Scott Thornton (’88), Keith Primeau (’88), Mike Ricci (’88), Chris Gratton (’92), Joe Thornton (’95), Bryan Allen (’97), Manny Malhotra (’97), Nick Boynton (’95), Stephen Weiss (’00), Carlo Colaiacovo (’00), Rick Nash (’01), Steve Eminger (’00), Ben Eager (’01), Eric Staal (’01), Nathan Horton (’01), Jeff Carter (’01), Mike Richards (’02), Anthony Stewart (’02), Corey Perry (’02), Marc Staal (’04), Ryan Parent (’04), Andrew Cogliano (’04), Steve Downie (’04), Jordan Staal (’05), Bryan Little (’04), Sam Gagner (’06), Logan Couture (’06), Brendan Smith (’06), Drew Doughty (’06), Joshua Bailey (’06),  John Tavares (’06), Matt Duchene (’08), Ryan Ellis (’08), Zack Kassian (’08), Taylor Hall (’08), Tyler Seguin (’09), Erk Gudbranson (’09), Jeffrey Skinner (’09), Joey Hishon (’08), Mark Visentin (’09), Ryan Strome (’10),Dougie Hamilton (’10), Ryan Murphy (’10), Matt Puempel (’10), Stuart Percy (’10)

2012 Ontarian Names on the Rise:

Max Domi (C, London Knights, OHL)

2012 U17 Statistics:  3GP-1G-4A-5P

The son of former Toronto Maple Leafs agitator Tie Domi has performed as advertised – an undersized skilled elite playmaking center.  Max is a dynamic player that thrives when in possession of the puck and owns the ability to execute highly difficult passes.  Domi is a smooth skater with excellent acceleration and has been one of Ontario’s biggest threats throughout the tournament.  Domi has all the tools to become a first round pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

NHL Draft Eligible: 2013

 

Ekblad serving as one of Team Ontario`s alternate captains (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)

Aaron Ekblad (D, Barrie Colts, OHL)

2012 U17 Statistics:  4GP-0G-2A-2P

The native of Belle River has played very well and is showing why the CHL decided to award Ekblad exceptional status to join the OHL.  Ekblad is the total package of size, skill, and intelligence and his skills have been on displayed throughout the competition.  Ekblad is a smooth skating defensive with tremendous gap control and an effective stick.  He’s been matched up with the opposing teams’ best players including 2013 favourite Nathan MacKinnon. The big defenseman has all the tools to become a minute munching defender at the next level capable of playing in all situations.

NHL Draft Eligible: 2014

 

Bo Horvat (C, London Knights, OHL)

2012 U17 Statistics: 4GP-3G-2A-5P

The captain of Team Ontario has been flying under the radar but he’s currently tied for the team scoring lead with three goals and five points.  Horvat was the London Knights’ first round selection (9th overall) and while he’s not getting as much of the spotlight as teammate Max Domi in London, he’s been Ontario’s most consistent and reliable player at this tournament.  Bo Horvat is exceptional in the faceoff dot as I do not recall him losing a faceoff in the Atlantic game.  Horvat plays a similar game to Mike Richards of the Los Angeles Kings and has played valuable minutes on both special teams units in the tournament.

NHL Draft Eligible: 2013

 

Jordan Subban (Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

Jordan Subban (D, Belleville Bulls, OHL)

2012 U17 Statistics:  4GP-1G-0A-1P

The youngest brother of Montreal Canadiens’ star PK Subban, Jordan plays an almost identical game (celebrations, swagger and all).  Jordan is an undersized defenseman who possesses fantastic offensive skills.  The Belleville Bulls’ defenseman has a booming slap shot that he’s been capable of unloading extremely quickly.  Jordan’s offensive game does come with some risk as he often makes risky choices that lead to scoring chances for the opposing team.  Subban has the tools to become a good puck moving defenseman with his strong skating skills and puckhandling abilities but he would benefit from adding strength to better handle the opposition in his own zone.

NHL Draft Eligible: 2013

 

TEAM PACIFIC

Notable Former Team Pacific First Round NHL Picks: 

Joe Sakic (’86), Scott Niedermayer (’90), Dean McAmmond (’90), Adam Deadmarsh (’92), Wade Redden (’94), Jerome Iginla (’94), Eric Brewer (’95), Scott Hannan (’95), Brad Stuart (’95), Scottie Upshall (’00), Dion Phaneuf (’02), Brent Seabrook (’02), Jeff Tambellini (’01), Shawn Belle (’02), Mike Green (’02), Carey Price (’04), Gilbert Brule (’04), Devin Setoguchi (’04), Leland Irving (’05), Kyle Turris (’06), Thomas Hickey (’06), Karl Alzner (’05), Zach Hamill (’05), Keaton Ellerby (’05), Brandon Sutter (’06), Colton Gillies (’06), Zach Boychuk (’06), Tyler Ennis (’06), Evander Kane (’08), Brett Connolly (’09), Mark Pysyk (’09), Ryan Nugent Hopkins (’10), Duncan Siemens (’10), Mark McNeil (’10)

2012 Pacific Names on the Rise:

Sam Reinhart (C, Kootenay Ice, WHL)

2012 U17 Statistics:  4GP-4G-3A-7P

Sam, one of three Reinhart players in the WHL, has had a great U17 tournament even though the heavily favourited Pacific team was ousted by Russia in the quarterfinals.  Reinhart has potted four goals and seven points and finished as Pacific’s leading scorer. Playing at six-foot-one, Reinhart has good size that accompanies his offensive skills.  Blessed with good hands and agility, Reinhart has the ability to create dynamic offensive plays and his 31 points in 34 WHL games is a testament to his talents.

NHL Draft Eligible: 2014

 

Curtis Lazar (C, Edmonton Oil Kings, WHL)

2012 U17 Statistics:  4GP-2G-1A-3P

Team Pacific had another big bodied centre perform well at the Under 17 tournament.  Actually, Curtis Lazar of the Edmonton Oil Kings has been proving himself and exceeding expectations for the past few years as he climbed out of nowhere to become the 2nd overall pick in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft.  Lazar plays an in-your-face type of game and always competes hard.  Lazar has good speed and can carry the offense while remaining defensively sound as well.  Lazar has shades of Jerome Iginla and Jonathan Toews in his game and scouts have taken notice.

NHL Draft Eligible:  2013

 

Morgan Klimchuk (C, Regina Pats, WHL)

2012 U17 Statistics:  4GP-2G-2A-4P

The third go-to player on the Pacific team was Morgan Klimchuk of the Regina Pats who is a sniper. Unfortunately, Klimchuk was only able to pot two goals and add a few assists in the tournament but he’s proven that he can score at the WHL level (9G, 24P in 36 GP) and shows to be a very valuable prospect for the 2013 NHL draft as he oozes leadership qualities.

NHL Draft Eligible:  2013

 

TEAM WEST

Notable Former Team West First Round NHL Picks: 

Curtis Leschyshyn (’86), Mike Sillinger (’88), Brendan Witt (’92), Patrick Marleau (’95), Brenden Morrow (’95), Robyn Regehr (’97), Boyd Gordon (’00), Braydon Coburn (’01 & ’02), Eric Fehr (’02), Ryan Getzlaf (’02), Jonathan Toews (’05), Luke Schenn (’06), Brayden Schenn (’08), Scott Glennie (’08), Jared Cowen (’08), Dylan McIlrath (’09), Jaden Schwartz (’09), Quinton Howden (’09)

2012 Team West Names on the Rise:

Alex Forsberg (Prince George Cougars, WHL)

2012 U17 Statistics:  4GP-0G-2A-2P

The Canadian Forsberg was the player to watch for Team West and he was able to show his skill throughout the games despite getting a win in the tournament.  Forsberg was unable to finish the tournament after suffering an injury but did finish with two assists.  Forsberg engages himself physically and has great vision and playmaking skills that make him a dangerous player when provided with time and space.

NHL Draft Eligible:  2013

 

TEAM QUEBEC

Notable Former Team Quebec First Round NHL Picks: 

Pierre Turgeon (’86), Jimmy Waite (’86), Karl Dykhuis (’88), Philippe Boucher (’90), Alexander Daigle (’92), Jocelyn Thibault (’92), Jean-Sebastian Giguere (’94), Daniel Briere (’94), Roberto Luongo (’95), Vincent Lecavalier (’97), Pierre-Marc Bouchard (’01), Marc-Andre Fleury (’01), Steve Bernier (’01 & ’02), Derick Brassard (’04), Jonathan Bernier (’05), Angelo Esposito (’06), Louis Leblanc (’08), Simon Depres (’08), Jonathan Huberdeau (’10), Phillip Danault (’10)

2012 Team Quebec Names on the Rise:

Jonathan Drouin (LW, Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL)

2012 U17 Statistics:  4GP-2G-3A-5P

The second overall pick in the 2011 QMJHL Draft (behind Nathan MacKinnon) recently left his AAA club to join the Halifax Mooseheads and he’s notched three assists in his first four games showing that he definitely has the skill to belong.  At five-foot-nine, Drouin is a little undersized but he’s a exciting offensive player with good puck handling skills that complement his great skating ability.  Drouin is a playmaking forward and he’s showcased those talents for Team Quebec with two goals and five points heading into Tuesday’s play.

NHL Draft Eligible: 2013

 

Anthony Duclair (LW, Quebec Remparts, QMJHL)

2012 U17 Statistics:  4GP-0G-1A-1P

Duclair has been fantastic in his first QMJHL season scoring at almost a point-per-game pace with 36 points in 37 games and posting a remarkable plus-31 rating.  Anthony Duclair has battled injuries in this tournament but when he was playing he proved to be very elusive and dynamic for Team Quebec.  The speedy winger has great vision and playmaking abilities that make his teammates better around him and he’s made the opposing defenders look silly with some of his dangles.

NHL Draft Eligible: 2013

 

TEAM ATLANTIC

Notable Former Team Atlantic First Round NHL Picks: 

John Slaney (’88), Dan Cleary (’94), Luc Bourdon (’04), James Sheppard (’05), Logan MacMillan (’05 & ’06), Brandon Gormley (’08 & ’09), Sean Couturier (’08 & ’09), Nathan Beaulieu (’09)

2012 Team Atlantic Names on the Rise:

Nathan MacKinnon (C, Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL)

2012 U17 Statistics:  4GP-1G-2A-3P

The favourite to go first overall in the 2013 NHL Draft has been scouted for what seems like years now.  MacKinnon hails from the same hometown as Sidney Crosby and also attended the same Shattuck St.Mary’s prep school as well leading many to draw comparisons to the NHL’s best player.  However, MacKinnon isn’t on the same level as Mr. Crosby.  Nathan MacKinnon was the lone star forward on a weak Atlantic team and while his skills showed well throughout their games the Halifax Moosehead centre was unable to find the production the team needed.  MacKinnon is a dynamic forward with elite hockey sense and with his strong skating and good size he is capable of beating the opposition one-on-one.  Nathan was able to muster up one goal and three points in four games with little support but he did play well showing why he’s considered a threat whenever he touches the ice.

NHL Draft Eligible: 2013

 

Matt Murphy (D, Val-D’Or Foreurs, QMJHL)

2012 U17 Statistics:  4GP-1G-1A-2P

Murphy was quite impressive in the game versus Ontario as he showed a confidence with the puck and made good decisions all night.  Murphy projects to be a two-way defenseman who can be physical as well as lead the rush.  The Foreurs’ defenseman has the size and hockey IQ to develop his game to the next level and make his name known for the 2013 NHL Draft.

NHL Draft Eligible: 2013

 

TEAM USA

Notable Former Team USA First Round NHL Picks: 

Brian Rolston (’90), Bryan Berard (’94), Marty Reasoner (’94), Paul Mara (’95), David Legwand (’97), Scott Gomez (’95), David Tanabe (’97), Brooks Orpik (’97), Tim Gleason (’00), Ryan Whitney (’00), Eric Nystrom (’00), Ryan Suter (’02), Mark Stuart (’01), Ryan Kesler (’01), Patrick Eaves (’01), Al Montoya (’02), Jack Johnson (’04), Eric Johnson (’05), Phil Kessel (’04), Kyle Okposo (’05), Peter Mueller (’04), Nick Foligno (’04), Patrick Kane (’05), James van Riemsdyk (’06), Kevin Shattenkirk (’06), Ian Cole (’06), Colin Wilson (’06), Kyle Palmieri (’08), Jack Campbell (’09), Cam Fowler (’08), Derek Forbort (’09), Jarred Tinordi (’09), Emerson Etem (’09), JT Miller (’10), Tyler Biggs (’10)

2012 Team USA Names on the Rise:

Tyler Motte (C, USNTDP, USHL)

2012 U17 Statistics:  5GP-0G-1A-1P

The Americans entered the U17 with good depth but the team is led by forward Tyler Motte  who is capable of creating offense every shift.  The skilled University of Michigan commit has good puckhandling skills and excels when in possession of the puck.  Motte has become Team USA’s leading scorer through twelve USHL games with eight goals and sixteen points.

NHL Draft Eligible: 2013

 

JT Compher (F, USNTDP, USHL)

2012 U17 Statistics:  5GP-3G-6A-9P

Compher was a fun player to watch throughout the tournament as he plays with a lot of grit.  JT is another University of Michigan commit and he is a player with good speed and decent size.  Not afraid to go into the gritty areas of the ice, Compher is usually successful at rustling the feathers of the opposition.  JT Compher sits atop the leaderboard of this year’s Under-17 WHC with three goals and nine points in five games (as of Tuesday evening).

NHL Draft Eligible:  2013

 

Will Butcher (D, USNTDP, USHL)

2012 U17 Statistics:  5GP-0G-6A-6P

Mr. Butcher showed the fans a ton of skill as the offensive defenseman lead Team USA’s powerplay with his good vision and playmaking skills.  Much like former Spitfire Ryan Ellis, Butcher is a puck moving defenseman that quarterbacks a powerplay very well.  Butcher’s strong skating opens up a lot of ice for his teammates and is able to make tough passes look easy.  Will Butcher is a true power play quarterback and his six points for USA were among the defensive leaders (tied with Sweden’s Robert Haag).

NHL Draft Eligible: 2013

 

TEAM RUSSIA

Notable Former Team Russia First Round NHL Picks: 

Viktor Kozlov (’92; Soviet Union), Ilya Kovalchuk (’00), Stanislav Christov (’00), Anton Babchuk (’01), Nikolai Zherdev (’01), Alexander Ovechkin (’02), Alexander Burmistrov (’08), Evgeny Kuznetsov (’09), Vladislav Namestnikov (’09)

2012 Team Russian Names on the Rise:

Ivan Barbashev (LW, HC MVD, MHL)

2012 U17 Statistics:  4GP-3G-1A-4P

Barbashev has earned three goals and four points in four games entering the semi-final game versus Team Ontario Tuesday night.  Ivan Barbashev is a reliable two-way forward who competes hard and is a valuable commodity in all areas of the rink.  Barbashev owns good speed and quickness and rarely makes a bad decision showing good anticipation and hockey intelligence. Barbashev is the youngest player on Team Russia and isn’t eligible for the NHL draft until 2014.

NHL Draft Eligible: 2014

 

Sergei Tolchinskiy (C, CSKA, MHL)

2012 U17 Statistics:  4GP-2G-0A-2P

Tolchinskiy is the top under 17 scorer in the Russian Junior league and has become a YouTube sensation with his stick control video.  Tolchinskiy was named Russia’s top performer in last month’s Four Nation’s Under-17 tournament.  The small Russian (5’7”) is highly skilled with a slick stick and excels with the puck on his stick.  Speed comes to Tolchinskiy naturally and Sergei uses it to create space on the ice to open up playmaking lanes.

NHL Draft Eligible:  2013

 

Valeri Nichushkin (Belie Medvedi Chelyabinsk, MHL)

2012 U17 Statistics:  4GP-3G-2A-5P

Russian prospect guru Alessandro Seren Russo had Nichushkin as the number one rated Russian prospect for the 2013 draft class back a few summers ago and he’s shown well at the under-17 tournament with three goals and five points to date. Standing at six-foot-three inches, Nichushkin can be physically dominant with his peers and it showed when he broke the record in Ural-Western Siberia region with 87 goals and 127 points in just over 30 games a few years back. Nichushkin projects to be a sniper as he’s scored at every level and he’ll be a player to watch as the 2013 nears.

NHL Draft Eligible:  2013

 

TEAM SWEDEN

Notable Former Team Sweden First Round NHL Picks: 

Mats Sundin (’88), Niklas Sundstrom (’92), Anders Eriksson (’92), Christian Backman (’97), Daniel Sedin (’97), Henrik Sedin (’97), Mika Zibanejad (’10), Jonas Brodin (’10), Oscar Klefbom (’10)

2012 Swedish Names on the Rise:

Robert Hägg (D, Modo Jr)

2012 U17 Statistics:  5GP-2G-4A-6P

Hägg was the most consistent and impressive Swedish player throughout the tournament.  The large defenseman (6’2”, 192) has an offensive flair to his game and loves to initiate the rush.  Hägg showed great poise and confidence with the puck and revealed his strong defensive skills as well.  Robert Hägg has a strong stick and has that effortless looking style of play that so many great Swedish defenders possess.  Look for Robert Hägg to become a hot commodity for the 2013 NHL draft as he possesses great upside both offensively and defensively.  Hägg lead the tournament in defense scoring through the preliminary games with six points in four games.

NHL Draft Eligible: 2013

 

Andre Burakovsky (LW, Malmo, SWE)

2012 U17 Statistics:  5GP-4G-2A-6P

The big forward has been quite noticeable in the Swedish contests as he plays a smart game and makes very good choices.  Burakovsky uses his size well to protect the puck and has shown good effectiveness as a crease player with his good hands around the net. Andre has a good shot and he’s able to unleash it very quickly. Burakovsky’s best asset is his ability to beat defenders one-on-one and scouts love his ability to find open ice.

NHL Draft Eligible: 2013

 

TEAM CZECH REPUBLIC

Notable Former Team Sweden First Round NHL Picks: 

Robert Petrovicky (’90), Radek Dvorak (’94), Milan Kraft (’97), Milan Michalek (’00), Ladislav Smid (’02), Jiri Tlusty (’05)

2012 Czech Names on the Rise:

Adam Zboril (C, HC Kometa Brno, CZE U20)

2012 U17 Statistics:  4GP-2G-0A-2P

The diminutive centre (5’7”), Adam Zboril, notched two goals in the tournament and he has been deemed one of the Czech’s most dangerous snipers.  Zboril scored an impressive 55 goals last season in 53 games showing that he’s got some hockey skills to be noticed.  Zboril will surely need to mature physically but he’s a strong skater with good hands. Zboril has some time to show scouts that he’s worthy of becoming an NHL prospect so keep an eye on this small sniper.

 

TEAM GERMANY

*No notable first round NHL picks from Germany*

2012 Germany Names on the Rise:

Leon Draisaitl (C, Jungadler Mannheim, DNL)

2012 U17 Statistics:  5GP-1G-4A-5P

Last season, Draisaitl took the under-16 Schüler league by storm scoring Gretzky-like numbers as Leon talied 97 goals and 192 points in only 29 games.  Yes, you heard that right – 97 goals and 192 points.  Surprisingly, Draisaitl projects to be a two-way forward who is strong on the puck and gets to the dirty areas to score the goals.  The German team finished ninth beating Canada West in Tuesday’s game and Leon Draisaitl finished with a goal and four assists in the tournament.

NHL Draft Eligible: 2014

 

TEAM FINLAND

*Team Finland is not in the 2012 Tournament*

Notable Former Team Finland First Round NHL Picks: 

Joni Pitkanen (’00), Mikael Granlund (’08), Joel Armia (’10)

 

 

The World Under-17 Hockey Challenge has drawn good crowds to the Windsor area and as we head into the final day with a Gold Medal matchup of the Team USA vs. Ontario or Russia (winner of Tuesday nights semi-final game) be sure to remember some of these names as NHL future stars will certainly emerge.

The Gold Medal game for the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge takes place Wednesday night and can be viewed online at FastHockey.com (register for free).

Follow @rossyyoungblood on Twitter for insight into hockey prospects

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