It’s almost the end of July, and it’s hot and sunny! That doesn’t matter, there’s hockey to be played.
The World Junior Evaluation Camp runs from July 28th-August 5th in Plymouth, Michigan at the USA Hockey Arena. This year features Canada, Finland, United States and Sweden in a round robin format that allows teams to take a look at some of their hopefuls for the 2018 World Juniors this winter in Buffalo.
The full schedule of games is as follows:
|Sat., July 29||USA White vs. Finland||1 p.m.|
|USA Blue vs. Sweden||4 p.m.|
|Sun., July 30||USA Blue vs. Finland||1 p.m.|
|USA White vs. Sweden||4 p.m.|
|Tues., Aug. 1||Canada Red vs. USA White||4 p.m.|
|Canada White vs. USA Blue||7 p.m.|
|Wed., Aug. 2||Canada vs. Finland||1 p.m.|
|USA vs. Sweden||4 p.m.|
|Fri., Aug. 4||Sweden vs. Canada||1 p.m.|
|Finland vs. USA||4 p.m.|
|Sat., Aug. 5||Sweden vs. Finland||4 p.m.|
|USA vs. Canada||7 p.m.|
The players will then separate to their various leagues around the world, where they hope to continue to impress their respective countries coaches and receive invites to the training camps in December.
The Canucks will be well represented this year at the camp. There are some locks for their respective countries, some long shots, and some notable absences.
The Canucks will have a few of their 2017 draft picks trying to make a name for themselves for Team Canada Brass. The full roster can be found here.
33rd overall pick Kole Lind was not initially invited to the camp but was a late add in early July. It’s fair to think that he is a long shot to crack the roster in December, but getting an invite to this camp shows how far he has come. He was cut from the Ivan Hlinka roster to start his draft season, then started a little slow and took off from there.
Obviously, a lot of things could change between now and puck drop in Buffalo, but it would be an uphill battle for Lind to secure a spot. Given that the USA and Canada start with split squads, it’s fair to believe that Lind will get at least one game during this camp.
Since Lind has an early birthday in his draft season, he will be unable to represent Canada in 2019, so this is his last chance to represent Canada at the World Juniors.
55th overall pick Jonah Gadjovich was part of the original invite list and given his physical play could secure a bottom six role. He has the ability to play gritty, pot some goals and work well with others. Those all should work in his favour. This doesn’t mean he is a lock to make the roster, but his versatility is something that should help his case.
He will need to hit the ground running to start the OHL season after an impressive showing at the development camp this month. He is definitely someone to watch.
64th overall pick, goaltender Michael DiPietro is another Canucks draft pick that could make the final roster for Canada. However, it’s worth mentioning that the starting job is Carter Hart’s to lose. That means there is the backup spot up for grabs, and DiPietro is the most likely candidate over Stuart Skinner and Dylan Wells. Another goalie could emerge in the coming months, but I think it’s fair to believe that a Hart-DiPietro tandem will be there for Canada.
2016 3rd round pick William Lockwood will be representing the United States at the Summer Showcase. He has previously represented the US at the U17 in 2014-15 and U18 in 2015-16.
Michigan's Will Lockwood (VAN) will attend Team USA's world junior summer camp tourney, but will not play in games due to injury
— Ryan Kennedy (@THNRyanKennedy) July 18, 2017
The tireless and speedy winger is recovering from shoulder surgery that kept him off the ice for the Canucks development camp. As Ryan Kennedy mentions above, he will be in attendance but won’t play in any games.
The United States has shown a tendency to go with more skilled and speedy players to fill out their depth, rather than the bruising plodders. That means that Lockwood has a very good chance to secure a bottom six role that helps out on the penalty kill. He brings a speed element that can burn oppositions in transition.
The full team Sweden roster is below:
5th overall pick from the 2017 NHL Entry Draft Elias Pettersson will be there. It’s fair to believe that he will be a big part of the Swedish offence and is almost essentially a lock to make the team. The Swede’s are only bringing 14 forwards to this development camp, so you can already see where the roster is heading towards.
Another Canucks prospect Jonathan Dahlen is ineligible for this winter’s World Juniors as he turns 20 years old on December 20th. It’s unfortunate, as it would’ve been fun to have both Dahlen and Pettersson representing Sweden this winter.
Last but not least is the noticeable absence.
#WJEC: Detailed version of Finland's roster for upcoming U20 WJEC in Plymouth, MI.
Green=draft eligible overager
Blue=1st year eligible pic.twitter.com/Ast9X62FPj
— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) July 17, 2017
Canucks first pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Olli Juolevi is not listed as attending despite being eligible to play in Buffalo in December. At first glance, that may raise some eyebrows, but it’s fairly clear why he isn’t there.
Juolevi has been a mainstay of the Finnish defence at the World Juniors for the past two seasons, and he has gone through development camps, training camps and tournaments already. He really doesn’t have a lot to gain from attending this years development camp in Plymouth. His absence allows some other players a chance to prove themselves.
Juolevi likely has his eyes on securing a spot with the Canucks this fall and is focusing on the summer training with that prize as the focus. If Juolevi is available for Finland for the World Juniors, he will be there.
The Canucks could have as many as five prospects at the World Juniors this winter. That isn’t the likely outcome, but it is possible.
It’s fair to believe that Juolevi and Pettersson will be there, with DiPietro being the next likely option. Gadjovich and Lind have a chance, but given the depth of talent for Team Canada, it could go either way.
Once this development camp is over, it’s only a few short weeks until leagues in Europe start their seasons and CHL training camps open. From the draft eligible angle, the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament starts the day that this World Juniors Camp closes.
For teenage players, hockey has become a 12 month a year endeavour with limited amounts of downtime. Who said Millennials are lazy?