The IIHF World Beneath-18 Championships are proper across the nook, with the festivities set to kick off on Thursday, April 19. Together with the pre-season Hlinka Gretzky Match, the U-18s present the most important platform for draft-eligible prospects to point out their ability and compete in opposition to the easiest their draft yr has to supply.
Group Finland, the defending champions from 2018, had been dealt an enormous blow when potential top-five decide Kaapo Kakko introduced he would skip the event. Group USA, who’ve claimed three of the previous 5 tournaments, needs to be front-runners once more after a robust season led by prime prospect Jack Hughes. Group Canada, who haven’t gained since Connor McDavid led them to the 2013 gold medal, needs to be hungry to finish a protracted medal drought. The remainder of the sector is plagued by up-and-coming younger gamers and noteworthy names to look at main as much as the 2019 NHL Draft. Listed here are some gamers who might increase their inventory tremendously with a robust efficiency within the U-18 Match.
Alex Newhook, C, Canada
Alex Newhook took the street much less travelled to the draft, selecting to play within the BCHL relatively than main junior hockey as a way to preserve his faculty eligibility. All he did was dominate, main the league in factors whereas captaining the Victoria Grizzlies to the highest of the league standings.
Alex Newhook is heading to Boston Faculty subsequent season (Garrett James Pictures)
Newhook was snubbed for a spot on Canada on the Hlinka Gretzky Match previous to the season, however he has made his omission look even worse by rising as one of the dynamic forwards obtainable this season and a digital lock to be chosen within the first spherical. On a Canadian roster missing the star energy of potential top-five picks Kirby Dach and Bowen Byram, the stage is about for Newhook to steer Canada’s offense and vault himself into the dialogue for a top-10 choice come draft day.
Cam York, D, United States
Cam York of the U.S. Nationwide Improvement Program (Hickling Photos)
Cam York has gone wire-to-wire as a primary round-worthy prospect, taking part in for one of the prestigious pre-draft organizations in the US, the US Nationwide Improvement Program. Nevertheless, with a lot of the highlight targeted on high-profile teammates Hughes, Alex Turcotte, Trevor Zegras, and Matthew Boldy, York has flown underneath the radar a bit.
A smooth-skating defender who performed a key function in producing offense from the staff’s blue line and contributing in all conditions, York is dedicated to the College of Michigan for subsequent season. Nevertheless, he has the chance on this event to step up in opposition to higher competitors than he’s confronted all season and show that he’s worthy of being one of many prime defenseman chosen within the draft in June. In a draft yr that’s missing on top-end protection prospects, a robust efficiency on this yr’s U-18 Championships might persuade a defense-needy staff within the prime 10 that York has the instruments to turn into a star.
Anttoni Honka, D, Finland
The youthful brother of Dallas Stars defenseman Julius Honka, Anttoni has bounced round a number of groups and junior leagues this season, resulting in him falling out of consideration to be a first-round draft choice. As a late 2000 birthday, Honka barely missed out on being eligible for the draft in 2018, giving him a full season of expertise over lots of his friends on this class.
Anttoni is the youthful brother of Dallas Stars defenseman Julius Honka (Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports activities)
Regardless of his slight body (5-foot-10, 176 kilos), Honka has excellent skating skill and was in a position to showcase some offensive aptitude within the prime Finnish males’s league, producing eight factors over 27 video games cut up between two groups. As beforehand talked about, Finland shall be lacking their prime participant and main scorer from final yr’s gold medal staff, Kakko. As one of many few gamers eligible to return, and the main scorer amongst defensemen from final yr’s staff, Honka shall be relied on closely to assist decide up a number of the slack from Kakko’s absence.
Thomas Harley, D, Canada
The USA-born Harley has opened some eyes in an enormous approach this season, serving to lead a rebuilding Mississauga Steelheads squad to the playoffs regardless of the mid-season commerce of their captain, Ryan McLeod. Regardless of a stable rookie marketing campaign final season, Harley opened 2018-19 with out a lot fanfare in draft rankings, showing exterior the first-round rankings in most draft shops.
Thomas Harley of the Mississauga Steelheads. (Aaron Bell/OHL Photos)
A robust skater with a excessive hockey IQ, Harley makes a robust breakout move and could possibly be the important thing to Canada sustaining a constant offensive assault. With out the providers of top-ranked Canadian defender Bowen Byram, one in all Canada’s much less heralded blueliners should step up and declare vital minutes taking part in on particular groups and serving because the staff’s prime shutdown possibility. Harley struggled a bit with consistency and turnovers with the Steelheads this season, however a robust efficiency on the U-18 event whereas exhibiting off some offensive contact might vault Harley up draft boards and squarely into dialogue as a possible lottery choice.