My notes on the Under-20 World Junior camps that took place a few weeks ago got backed up due to trying to get all the Top 10 Prospects columns done. I have notes on the U-20 players from Team Canada, Finland, Sweden, and USA from the two camps that took place. First up are Canada and Finland.
I'm not going to do full profiles on these three, but the reports on elite forward prospects Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Ryan Strome, and Jonathan Huberdeau are all about the same. Each had moments of very impressive offensive skills, but they didn't really dominate on a consistent basis. I'm not concerned in the least.
Michael Bournival, Center, Montreal Canadiens: I got a lot of reports on Bournival's skating the last year or so that have said things like, "good straight line skater, below-average at all his other skating elements", but I think his skating has gone to the next level. He didn't show a laggy first step, he and was moving at an average if not above-average level at times. If the improvement is for real, it could do a lot for his prospect stock.
Sean Couturier, Center, Philadelphia Flyers: He wasn't dynamic, but he was certainly impressive, and that's what Couturiers' game is. He protected the puck very well, showed nice physical progression over the summer, and was exhibiting plus level two-way hockey sense and playmaking ability. His skating is below-average, but it's not fringe, and there's enough there that I'm not overly concerned about his elite overall skill set.
Brendan Gallagher, Right Wing, Montreal Canadiens: Gallagher looked really good at this camp. He displayed solid hockey sense, anticipating the play well, and making good decisions. He flashed some above-average hands consistently, which is a big thing for his offensive projection, as I did not hear a lot about his hands from scouts last year. His skating was solid, although a little below-average for what you want a diminutive player to be. His work ethic was off the charts, though, as Gallagher showed tremendous hustle disturbing and breaking up plays all over the ice.
Jerome Gauthier-Leduc, Defense, Buffalo Sabres: He's an above-average skater with a really good first step and overall mobility who can move the puck well, but he has so much work to do physically and defensively.
Brandon Gormley, Defense, Phoenix Coyotes: I didn't get a lot of notes on Gormley, but he did what I expected. He played a quiet game, was decent defensively, made quick decisions, and made some plus passes.
Scott Harrington, Defense, Pittsburgh Penguins: Harrington was quite impressive at the camp. He was showing above-average four-way mobility, made smarts play at both ends of the rink, and showed a nice level of physicality that some scouts wished he demonstrated more last year. If he plays like that all year, his stock will rise.
Joe Morrow, Defense, Pittsburgh Penguins: Morrow has always been a good skater, but he looked at another level with his speed at this camp and certainly has taken his skating up a grade since last season.
Ryan Muphy, Defense, Carolina Hurricanes: Same old, same old for Murphy. Elite skater with plus hands who just oozes offensive upside and excitement in his game, but he overdid it with his rushes at times and turned the puck over too much.
Jamieson Oleksiak, Defense, Dallas Stars: Oleksiak showed some notable improvement in his skating since I saw him last season. He's not an average mover, but he's well above-average for a defender with his massive frame. He got involved a little bit on offense; I had wondered if he could sustain his college offense with fringe feet. If the mobility I saw in this camp is for real, there may be more offensive upside to Oleksiak than I originally thought.
Mark Scheifele, Center, Winnipeg Jets: Scheifele was fine, but not overly impressive. He's an average skater, who showed solid hands and above-average passing ability, but never displayed a dynamic element to his game. He's a fine all-around player, but there's not a ton of upside.
Jaden Schwartz, Center, St. Louis Blues: Schwartz simply looked brilliant. His hands and creativity looked off the charts and he made some ridiculous plays with the puck. He also made some nice defensive plays as well.
Dillon Simpson, Defense, Edmonton Oilers: I thought Simpson played fine, showing his above-average puck-moving skills. He showed some decent defensive awareness too. His skating still hurts him, as the speedy forwards could pressure him too easily.
Devante Smith-Pelly, Left Wing, Anaheim Ducks: Smith-Pelly played well in the first game. He showed solid skating and some improvement over what I was hearing from scouts last year in that aspect. He was very physical, throwing his body around a lot, and was creating a lot of disturbance. Offensively, he showed some sparks of life in that aspect such as a fine pass or displaying his impressive shot, but I'm still not buying significant offense coming from DSP.
Joel Armia, Right Wing, Buffalo Sabres: Wow. He simply looked amazing at the camp, showing elite offensive skills and coordination with the puck that very few big men have. Armia also showed plus vision, good puck protection skills, and the kind of upside that should get Sabres fans excited. I'm still not a fan of his skating, but that's just a kink in an otherwise tremendous offensive arsenal.
Joonas Donskoi, Right Wing, Florida Panthers: Don't be surprised if Donskoi ends up on my 2012 Top NHL 100 Prospects list. His hands are very impressive, his speed is solid, and his agility is above-average. He was moving the puck well and just gave so much reason for optimism.
Markus Granlund, Center, Calgary Flames: The other Granlund showed the solid playmaking abilities I'm used to seeing from him, but he also displayed above-average hands and offensive flair that I wasn't as accustomed to seeing. He's on my radar as a potential riser.
Jani Hakanpaa, Defense, St. Louis Blues: I wasn't that enthralled by Hakinpaa's performance at the camp. There's certainly some fine defensive and physical projection to his game and he can flash some average puck-moving abilities, but he's a fringe skater without much puck possession skills.
Olli Maatta, Defense, 2012-eligible: The fact that a 1994 birthdate is even at this camp should tell you where the projected first round pick's stock is at currently. Maatta wasn't overly impressive at the camp, but it's usually hard for 17-year-olds to stand out in these environments outside of the elite few. He was given a lot of power play time, showing above-average puck-moving skills, fine physical aspects given his age, good instincts, offensive awareness, and decent agility.
Simo-Pekka Riikola, Defense, 2012-eligible: Riikola went undrafted in 2011. I admit I had no idea who he was prior to this camp, but I think he may be worth a look in 2012. There's not a lot of wow to Riikola, but there's a decent amount of "average" to his game that can get him picked in the mid to late rounds. He can move the puck somewhat, has fine hands, a solid shot from the point, and an average frame.
Teemu Pulkkinen, Right Wing, Detroit Red Wings: Pulkkinen was up and down in my viewings of him. He certainly has the top-end if not elite skills to be a heck of an offensive creator. He made a lot of top-end plays with the puck, usually in the passing department and sniped a goal with his plus plus shot with a one-timer from the point on the power play. However, he was forcing plays a little too much resulting in a high number of turnovers. His skating was also as underwhelming as always.
Miikka Salomaki, Center, Nashville Predators: Salomaki played very well defensively, showing a pretty advanced game in that regard. He was solid physically, with decent flashes of offensive skill, but certainly didn't show a lot in the latter and it's hard to see significant offense coming from him.
I obviously didn't do a profile on every player at this camp, so if you want notes on someone not mentioned, use the contact tab or leave a comment.
Next up is Team USA.
Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
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