Young Stars Tournament Wrap-Up: Team Profiles

Kevin McCartney
September 11 2013 11:23AM

With the Young Stars Tournament now over and professional camps opening this week, we look back at the stand-outs from each team and the players of the future for each franchise. 

Calgary Flames

The Flames came to Penticton on a mission. They came to the tournament with a roster full of high draft picks and experienced pros, and even 2011 Young Stars stud Sven Baertschi. Their practices were much more intense and professional. They played to win, and fell only to the under-dog Sharks in the final game. They allowed the fewest goals of any team in the tournament with 6, and tied Vancouver for second with 11 goals for.

Best Forward

Markus Granlund: Powerful off the half wall and hard to contain on the end-boards. Granlund used a very professional approach to scoring, with few unnecessary movements and constantly attacking the net. Cycled well too.

Best Defender

John Ramage: Excellent escapes and transition plays. Above average transition skating, and a professional demeanor that led to efficiency with the puck.

Best Goalie

Joni Ortio: Only played one game, but it was the best game by a goalie the whole weekend. Exceptional athletics bailed out his rebound-inept defence group, while even better rebound control made it rare he had to.

Best Invite Player

Linden Penner, W: Only got one game, and it wasn’t spectacular. Still, he used his size (6’4”, 220) to open up space for his linemates and showed tournament average speed and hands.

Most NHL Ready

Markus Granlund, C: Lacks the quickness of an NHL forward, but consistently drove the play the right direction and established possession for extended portions of his shifts. Looked good with various linemates. Very good strength for his age.

Best Practice Moment

The Flames ran the most intense practices, with just a half-hour on the ice and no breaks. Drills were explained beforehand in the dressing room, and changing from one drill to the next was prepared by the coaches while the players did hard laps. Very organized and serious feel to their approach to the tournament.

Biggest Surprise

Keegan Kanzig, D: Much smarter than expected, read back-door plays and forward movements extremely well. Also better range, supporting the play up ice often, and even throwing a few hits on the offensive end boards without being trapped. His turning and pivots are slow, and he uses large gaps as a result, but a very good showing for the big bear.

Biggest Disappointment

Sven Baertschi, W: I considered Baertschi’s attendance at the tournament an expression of the team’s desire to win by bringing their best eligible players, but he managed to turn that around with this play. Didn’t score a single point and looked frustrated and lost often.

Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers brought mostly face punchers in their forward compliment, electing not to bring their most skilled forwards from Russia or the AHL. On the backend, however, the Oilers boasted 6 NHL hopefuls among their 8 exclusively left-handed defencemen. Not surprisingly, the Oilers were beaten in every game and lost goal differential a whopping 17-6. 

Best Forward

Marco Roy: Creative, anticipation-based game with good puck skills and two-way play. Got better with each game and ended with 13 shots on.

Best Defender

Brandon Davidson: Puck supports well, good transition passes, and excellent blue line skills. Thinks the game at a high level and remains calm in his own end. Needs to work on his in-close defending.

Best Goalie

Frank Palazzese: 40 saves (ignore the scoresheet) to backstop the Oilers’ only lead of the tournament and best chance at a win. Tracked the puck well, maintained positioning and form in lateral movement, and controlled rebounds a little better than Bunz.

Best Invite Player

Chase Schaber: Good range, makes smart contact, plays his position well in both ends of the rink, and carried his line in games 2 and 3. Showed some offensive spark in game 2, but doesn’t have the pure skill to create.

Most NHL Ready

Martin Marincin: Perhaps not surprising given his year in the AHL, but Marincin did all the little things a pro defenceman does in game one – closing out lanes, pushing forwards off-balance before pivoting to go after a puck – while showing high-end skating and stick skills. Played his off-side the whole tournament. Didn’t adjust well to a new system in game two.

Best Practice Moment

Tyler Bunz does the move where you scoop the puck, spin, and throw it off your stick… with a goalie stick in full goalie gear. And then does a Crosby pull through his own legs, shoulder drop, and back hand roof job... with a goalie stick in full goalie gear.

Biggest Surprise

Greg Chase, W: A tremendous pest, but also a pretty impressive possession player. Was one of the few fowards to get the concept of the Oilers offensive system in the first game, and executed it well on their first goal to earn an assist. Had at least three head-scratching moments in the tournament, but generally showed good awareness for the game at both ends.

Biggest Disappointment

Oscar Klefbom, D: Missed most of the season with injury, and is new to smaller ice. Still, Klefbom showed the skill that made him a 1st round pick in flashes, in particular elite level skating. Overall though, looked lost in both ends and read the play slowly.

San Jose Sharks

One of the Sharks' two stars for the tournament - 2013 1st rounder Mirco Mueller - was injured early in game one and didn't return to the tournament. The Sharks played a conservative game, with a single forechecker and neutral zone trap, but were out-scored 11-7 and managed just one win. Most glaringly, the Sharks lacked scoring talent and relied on an opportunistic attack. 

Best Forward

Matthew Nieto: Was outscored by Rylan Schwartz, but played a better two-way game to my eye. Quick, uses his linemates well, and good in the neutral zone. Strong transition play and regroup support.

Best Defender

Konrad Abeltshauser: Ended the tournament with an unsightly plus/minus, but played the toughest competition and managed the puck well. Good shot, strong blue line play. Among the best transition defencemen on the Sharks. Doesn't make much contact in the defensive zone, and didn't do well at boxing out or clearing defenders despite ridiculous size (6'5", 225lbs).

Best Goalie

J.P. Anderson: It wasn't a strong tournament for Shark goalies, but Anderson had fewer holes in lateral movement. 

Most NHL Ready

Kyle Bigos, D: This team isn't exactly star-studded, but I was impressed with a lot Bigos's game so he goes in this category. Yes, he knows his way around an opponent's face with his fists and elbows, but it was his passing and lane control by which I was most impressed. Transitioned the puck well, consistently making efficient choices out of the defensive end. Good stick placements. Played passing lanes well from both sides. Ended the tournament +2 on a team with only 6 even strength goals for while playing tough minutes after Mueller went down. Slow in his skating transitions, however, and Hunter Shinkaruk turned him a number of times in the first game. Got a little more comfortable at managing his gaps as the tournament went on but still needs to add foot-speed to play the pro game. 

Best Practice Moment

Held a long pratice on the Okanagan Hockey School ice during Penticton's minor hockey jamboree day. Eventually, with kids in gear circling the glass, the zamboni just drove onto the ice during the Sharks practice and started cleaning while the Sharks plays and straff scrambled to get all the pucks, cones, and bottles off the ice surface.

Biggest Surprise

Max Iafrate, D: This guy is mean and while his skating was below average to average for the tournament, he still managed to line some people up. May have stock in an ice-pack company. At 6'2", 220 as a '94 birthday, Iafrate could be an effective physical defender, but needs to build on his technical skating and foot quickness.

Biggest Disappointment

Tomas Hertl, W: Aside from causing scrums with dirty hits, Hertl was almost never at the centre of any play. Average to above average speed for the tournament, but lacked quickness or power in his skating. Didn't show much talent for offence and wasn't exactly a dynamo in his own end either. In transition he lagged. If you took the name off his jersey, you'd swear he was a bruiser with limited skill.

Vancouver Canucks

The Canucks played every team in the tournament as the hosts, and brought a large roster of 28 skaters. They boasted a star-packed forward group, but their defence was less impressive. Jordan Subban of Canada's second family of hockey and Frank Corrado were the two NHL hopefuls on the back end. The team played a very high-tempo style and more sophisticated special teams than most of their opponents. The Canucks went 3 and 1 with 11 goals for and 9 against.

Best Forward

Hunter Shinkaruk: One of the most dangerous forwards in the tournament offensively and with violence. Put Mirco Mueller out of the tournament in game one with an offensive zone cross check after throwing a hit in the neutral zone and steaming through two defenders on the dump and chase. Much more edge to his game than reported, and all the skill and speed imagined on draft day.

Best Defender

Frank Corrado: Guimond had 4 points in 4 games, but turnovers and defensive coverage to make your cringe. Subban showed excellent skills, but made odd decisions and struggled to use his team mates. Corrado had a stellar game against the Flames, a bit of a loose and angry game against the Oilers, and tightened it up again to face the Jets. Looked too good for the tournament.

Best Goalie

Joacim Eriksson: Aside from the split seconds of a John Ramage goal and an Eric Roy shot that may have hit a Canuck en route, Eriksson turned in 180 minutes of excellent hockey. Excellent reads, efficient movement, good rebound work.

Best Invite Player

Zach Hall, F: Hall showed tremendous speed and fit in well on scoring lines. Clearly had good puck skills and scoring sense, but struggled to create off the wing. Would have liked to see a game at centre for Hall. Recorded no points, but had a very good tournament.

Most NHL Ready

Niklas Jensen, W: The speedy forward showed a love for contact and the rare ability to create in traffic as well as with space. Only credited with 1 point but tied for the tournament lead with 14 shots in three games.

Best Practice Moment

Former Oiler prospect Jeremie Blain was fantastic at practice, and in two reps of a drill with three 1-on-1 battles managed to win them all. The only defender to come close to that. Great foot work in small spaces, active stick. Didn’t play in a game for reasons of which I’m not aware.

Biggest Surprise

Alexandre Mallet, C: Started with a very good game against the Sharks in what was the most up-tempo, physical contest of the tourney. Showed some offence in game one, but by game three he was mostly aggitating for whatever reason. Very good vertical speed. Closes hits well. Rarely gets out of position to make contact, but always seems to be finshing his checks. Wins board battles, gets the puck to danger areas.

Biggest Disappointment

Brendan Gaunce, C: It seems his stock plummeted during this tournament in which he looked slow and very confused. His first game against the Sharks was played on the fourth line from which he was the Canucks’ worst forward. He improved as the tournament went along and showed some scoring instincts against Edmonton and managed his only four shots of the tournament against Winnipeg in the final game.

Winnipeg Jets

The Jets brought a highly skilled but very young group of prospects to Penticton, led by NHL hopefuls Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba. It wasn't those two who impressed in this short tournament, however, as the team was led by under-sized 2013 second rounder Nic Petan up front and the efforts of 2013 draft picks Josh Morrisy, Jan Kostalek, and former Islander draftee Brenden Kichton. The Jets were the highest scoring team at the tournament with 13 goals in two wins and one loss, while allowing just 7.

Best Forward

Nic Petan: Elite anticipation and dominating with the puck. A bag of tricks seemingly too big for his 5’9” frame. Controlled play at both ends of the rink, with and without the puck.

Best Defender

Brenden Kichton: It’s a tough category for the Jets, who had a number of stand-outs. Kichton scored 4 points and showed elite blue line work. Very good skater, great puck skills, not afraid to take contact to make a play. Played in all three disciplines.

Best Goalie

Juho Olkinuora: A confident showing that included a body check above the hashmarks on the side boards. Great puck handler, efficient movements, and very good rebound control. Needs to communicate more.

Best Invite Player

Axel Blomqvist, W: Blomqvist raised his stock for next year’s draft at the very least, using his massive 6’5” frame to protect the puck and drive the net. Drew double teams, caused panic for defenders. Scored two goals, one of which was a knocked down pass and breakaway that ended with the Hulk Hogan listening gesture at the stunned crowd. Needs to work on his skating. Youngest player on the roster.

Most NHL Ready

Adam Lowry, C: Huge, NHL-sized body at 6’5” and well over 200lbs. Powerful core, compact stride, makes contact with a bit of relish, and knows where to be in both ends. Managed the middle of the ice with good awareness. Would have liked to see more scoring. Mark Scheifele might be the obvious answer here, but he didn’t use his linemates well at all and tried to do too much, even to the point of getting rocked while trying to rag the puck on the penalty kill as though a super-star at beer league. The Jets can hope that by the end of pro camp, this answer will look foolish.

Best Practice Moment

Mark Scheifele’s wrist shot is so hard that the children of the family standing next to me complained to their parents about how loud it was when it hit the glass.

Biggest Surprise

Jan Kostalek, D: Dropped from a 1st round preliminary ranking to the third round in the 2013 draft, Kostalek showed a very complete game, albeit with a high-risk, high-reward styling. Played in all three disciplines, generated offence, and threw some enormous open ice hits. Very good skater, wins pucks along the boards, and maintains very good gaps. Made some gambles at the offensive blue line, but won more than he lost.

Biggest Disappointment

Jacob Trouba, D: Looked like a young Jack Johnson – tremendous athletic skill paired with confusing decision making and a dangerous lack of hockey sense. Played read-and-react hockey against other teenagers.

 

Young Stars Coverage

You can check out our detailed game reports at the links below.

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Kevin is a regular contributor to Jets Nation. His work has been featured on Bleacher Report, The Sporting News, and around the Nations Network. An enthusiastic over-analyst, his background and interests are diverse, but you might notice he's obsessed with hockey. Track him down on twitter @kevinmccart
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#1 Kent Wilson
September 11 2013, 11:31AM
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Thanks for the overview Kevin. Great work.

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#2 Baalzamon
September 11 2013, 01:01PM
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I thought Eriah Hayes (Sharks) was really good--at least in the game against Calgary. I was constantly peering at the screen saying "Who's that?" Big dude who can skate.

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#4 Baalzamon
September 11 2013, 01:41PM
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@Kevin McCartney

Sounds a lot like the criticism about Sean Kuraly. Interesting, I didn't know Hayes was that old--obviously I don't pay close attention to the players in San Jose's system.

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#5 KingQuong
September 12 2013, 12:15AM
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Who was it that fought Kanzig in the Calgary vs San Jose game? I can't quite remember and wan't to find a video of it.

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#6 Kent Wilson
September 12 2013, 11:17AM
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@KingQuong

Kyle Bigos.

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