The World Junior Summer Showcase took place last week in Plymouth, Michigan with Sweden, Finland, Canada and the US duking it out in a round robin format. The event serves as a measuring stick for many hopeful players that are hoping to secure a spot on their national team for the World Juniors in December.
It is August, and there will be three months of hockey to go before the tournament gets going, so a lot of what happened has to be taken with a grain of salt. However, players can make an impression that forces their countries management teams focus on them rather than others.
The Canucks were represented by five players, with four of them suiting up in game action. 2016 third round pick William Lockwood was unable to play as he recovers from shoulder surgery.
With that, we can look at how the other four did last week. I was able to do game reports on the majority of the main part of the tournament and can be found below:
- Canada Red vs. USA White (feat. Jonah Gadjovich and Kole Lind)
- Canada vs. Finland (feat. Jonah Gadjovich and Kole Lind)
- USA vs. Sweden (feat. Elias Pettersson)
- Canada vs. Sweden (feat. Elias Pettersson, Kole Lind, and Michael DiPietro)
- USA vs. Finland (feat. no Canucks prospects)
- Sweden vs. Finland (feat. Elias Pettersson)
- Canada vs. USA (feat. Jonah Gadjovich)
4GP – 0G – 2A – 10 SOG
*I’ve added two assists to his official scoring, as they were not given to him but were clearly assists*
Fans were rightfully excited to see how the recent fifth overall pick fared. It was the first time that they could see him in competitive game action against players that weren’t other Canucks prospects.
At times, Elias Pettersson flashed the skill and hockey IQ that sets him apart from his peer group. One of those plays was one of the missed assists:
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) August 2, 2017
Pettersson receives the pass with his head up and places a shot low blocker side that results in a rebound for Lias Andersson to put into the empty net. That shot was going in or creating a rebound, and Pettersson achieved the latter. It’s a smart play, taking advantage of the lane in a medium danger situation. His other assist was a chip up the boards in his defensive zone to Fredrik Karlstrom that led to a goal on the rush.
Despite not scoring, It’s encouraging to see Pettersson average 2.5 shots on goal per game.
Pettersson just wasn’t able to consistently get space to create offence. Teams appeared to be keying on him and Andersson — the latter of the two was able to break through. Pettersson didn’t seem to be overmatched regarding physicality, as there were quite a few times where he would just battle through the check.
Pettersson played the majority of the tournament on the wing with Andersson. They have been consistently together in that capacity on the international stage for quite some time. This makes sense given Andersson’s strong two-way play and Swedish Head Coach Tomas Monten mentioning that having Pettersson on the wing gives him more space to create offence.
Expectations are high for the Canucks draft pick, but need to be tempered. The kid is incredibly talented, but will just take some time to fulfill his full potential.
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) August 5, 2017
3GP – 0G – 0A – 3 SOG
Kole Lind was a late addition to the Team Canada roster due to Nolan Patrick being kept from the showcase with an injury. He started the tournament in a top nine role but saw his ice time diminish as things wound down.
Lind didn’t make the Ivan Hlinka tournament roster prior to the start of the 2016-17 season, so even being a late add shows how far he has come.
There were flashes of what Lind can do. On a couple of occasions, he was able to read the play and his opposition well, adjust his lane to create a shot. Or even adjust the way he attacked to create multiple chance opportunities. His best performance came in his second game against Finland where he was on the opposite wing of fellow Canucks prospect Jonah Gadjovich.
Like Pettersson, it would’ve been good to see Lind make a bigger impact but there is nothing to be concerned about at this stage. Lind will head to the WHL next season where he will build off a fantastic second half that vaulted him into the first round pick conversation.
4GP – 1G – 1A – 7 SOG
*I’ve added one assist to his official scoring – as you’ll clearly see in a gif below, he had an assist*
On the flip side, Gadjovich made the most of his chances and impressed. He was noticeable in almost every game and made his presence felt through a variety means.
Whether that was a nice pass:
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) August 1, 2017
Or by being a physical force:
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) August 2, 2017
Or even scoring a goal in front:
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) August 6, 2017
Each one of those highlights are all from different games over the course of the week. With his goal being from where he was used sparingly as the 13th forward. Unfortunately, there is no official shift chart to confirm, but I believe that was Gadjovich’s second shift of the third period, and it was late in the game. He just goes out and scores the goal to draw Canada closer.
The variety and how much Gadjovich impacted the game is how he is going to secure a spot with Canada this winter. There will be other players that are more skilled, but being a swiss army knife who can move up and down the lineup, creating offence and being physical is something that Team Canada could really use.
It’s not like Gadjovich can’t score, his 46 goals in the OHL are an indication that he does with high frequency, but doing all the little things elsewhere is what will force him into the conversation.
2GP – 1-0-0 – 0.893 SV% – 3.14 GAA
Dipietro also had a strong showing for the Canadians as he looks to secure one of the goalies’ spots. In my opinion, the battle for the backup job is between him and Edmonton Oilers prospect Dylan Wells, and at this moment DiPietro has the edge.
He played well throughout the entire week, appearing in two games, giving up three goals on 28 shots in just under 58 minutes of action. The two goals against Sweden were not really his fault.
In small sample sizes like this, it’s hard to get a read looking at just the numbers, but Dipietro looked cool, calm and collected when he was in the net.
It will ultimately come down to the CHL play of the goalies and DiPietro will just have to prove that his strong play at the Memorial Cup wasn’t a flash in the pan. I don’t think it was.
The Canucks prospects didn’t blow the doors off at the WJSS, but Gadjovich and DiPietro had strong showings that should help their cause immensely. Lockwood wasn’t able to get into game action but he has a legitimate shot of making USA due to his speed, penalty killing, and versatility. While Pettersson is a lock to make Sweden.
Yes, it’s just hockey in August, but it was nice to have some competitive hockey on TV. The real hockey season is rapidly approaching