Young Stars Tournament All-Stars

 

 

One of the most interesting parts of the annual Young Stars tournament is seeing the talents of these young prospects relative to each other. With different systems in place, different ways of organizing lines, and even different levels of intensity about the tournament between franchises, wins and goals mean less than the process in evaluating player success. As one of the Nations Network scouts at the tournament, I thought I’d give my standouts, but in the hockey honoured tradition of naming All-Star teams. 

It’s a small sample size, so these aren’t necessarily the best prospects, but instead the prospects who had the best showing in the tournament. Still, I bet we see the majority of these names in NHL sweaters within a few years. 

1st All Star Team

Sean Monahan

Thinks hockey on a very high level. Only credited with two points, but was a dominating offensive force in game one against the Oilers and showed exceptional hockey awareness in adjusting to new defensive schemes in subsequent games. Uses team mates well and creates offence in new ways seemingly every shift. Did all the little things well and managed the game with his position as the best centres do.

Nic Petan

His first game against San Jose was the best single-game performance of the tournament among skaters, but he was a force throughout. Controlled play in both ends, with and without the puck. Outrageously quick hands, elite anticipation for this level, and a scorer’s instinct. Backs off defenders with his skating and puck control. Distributes expertly from the middle lane to break traps. His two-way play was impeccable and his puck-support exceptional. A coach’s dream at an extremely young age.

Hunter Shinkaruk

Led Canucks’ forwards in scoring and looked dangerous with the puck the moment in touched his stick. Too fast for defencemen to handle in transition. Deceptive change of pace step low in the offensive end lets him avoid contact. Creates chaos for defenders. Shockingly physical with a nasty edge to his game and a mouth that just never stops. Got under the skin of every defender he faced and exploited their lapses in focus like a grade-A pest.

Brandon Davidson

Though his boxcars are not All-Star worthy, Davidson was a stand-out defender for the under-skilled Oilers. Strong puck movement, great sense for how to develop offence, and impressive blue line work were his most visible contributions. In fact, an excellent defender at both ends, with a mature awareness of passing lanes and stick placement, control of the play with angles, and tight gaps. Excellent skater, though a notch below the elite skaters in the tournament.

Brenden Kichton

Two goals in his first game, added two more assists and was +4 in the tournament while powering the Jets high-octane offence. Good-for-the-NHL level blue line control, excellent speed and control in his skating, and the puck skills to put drool on your chin. Lacks power in transition skating so can’t battle while pivoting and uses looser gaps than ideal. Wasn’t afraid to take contact to make plays, though, and trusted his reads to play a hesitation-free game.

Joni Ortio

A show-stopping performance against the Canucks with 39 saves on 40 shots. A large step ahead of the other goalies at the tournament. His athletics were impressive with two stolen goals on Kipper-esque drives and he tracked the play well, but it was his rebound control that set him apart. Didn’t put a puck into danger during the game and even intentionally cleared the puck once by directing a hard shot around the glass.

2nd All Star Team

Markus Granlund

Powerful off the half-boards, strong in the cycle, and hard to beat on the end boards. Led the Flames in scoring and shots on. A dangerous powerplay player for the fact that he can create offence from anywhere in the zone and rotates well. Plays the simplified game of a pro player with the killer instinct to score with every play. Lacks the quickness of an NHL forward, but played the part well otherwise.

Bo Horvat

Sometimes hard to tell where his impact began and Shinkaruk’s ended, but his chemistry with the quick winger came from excellent anticipation for both offence and defence. Cycled well. Quick release on his shot. Very high hockey IQ. He and Shinkaruk added complexity to their reps in practice and looked a cut above.

Adam Lowry

One of the few truly powerful skaters at the tournament with a compact, efficient stride, Lowry drove his giant 6’5" frame up and down the ice to great effect and with remarkable mobility. Full 200ft game, controlling the centre of the ice with his size and positioning. Pro-level strength already. Good anticipation and created offence from his two-way play, giving up little and driving the play the right way. A corsi-monster at this level.

John Ramage

Very effective transition game with smooth escapes, hard outlet passes, and puck support up ice. Uses good edge control and quick transition skating to keep play in front of him and maintain tight gaps. Made the position look easy in his second game against Vancouver and ended the tournament with 3 points in 3 games.

Josh Morrissey

Looked way too calm to be 18, and ‘smooth’ skater doesn’t begin to describe his elite level technical control. Deliberate with the puck and often a step ahead of the play. Covered for Trouba often, who was pressing a little too hard in this tournament, and threw a gross hit on Jackson Houck that got him tossed from a game. Otherwise might have had more than just three points.

Joacim Eriksson

A couple weak goals against the Flames in which he lost the angle, but otherwise played a collected and controlled game. Efficient movements made for few gaps despite not having the size of some of the netminders in the tournament. Seven goals against on 102 shots in a tournament not known for its defence.

 

Honourable Mentions

  • Marco Roy: If he had played game one like he did game 3, he would have made the first team. Dynamic and creative attacker, strong-two way play. A cerebral player with puck skills to match.
  • Michael Ferland: Showed excellent vertical offence and protected the puck well. Good speed and physical. Cycled well. Hard shot, though not able to disguise his release. Lacked variety in his offence I think due to slow feet in changing direction (the power forward train tracks), but managed a point in every game and created room for his linemates.
  • Niklas Jensen: Looks like a professional-level player with elite speed, a love for contact, and a quick release shot. Owns his wing in transition by backing off defenders, which also opens up lanes across the top. Somehow the puck just wouldn’t go in for him, but looked like one of the dozen or so players who could make the jump this year.
  • Cole Cassels: Started the tournament looking like an energy forward on a checking line and slowly moved up the roster with three points in four games. Always seemed to be attacking the net. Wanted to keep the tempo high, putting opponents off balance, but showing little ability to adjust his game to circumstance.
  • Matthew Nieto: I didn’t cover the Sharks, but Nieto stood out in every game. Great range, mature two-way game. Generated a lot of offence and made veteran plays all over the ice.
  • Keegan Kanzig: Really surprised at this tournament with high-end hockey sense and good range. His size is unreal but his skating forces him to keep large gaps so he rarely gets his hands on people. Threw the kind of hits that make you glad you’re not a hockey player. Strong transition passing and supported the play up-ice.
  • Kyle Bigos: Another stand-out for the Sharks and a former Oiler prospect. Really big and physical in his defending. But the impressive part was his transition game. Kept tight gaps, used his stick well, and made choices for opposing forwards with his focus and positioning. Transitioned up quickly and precisely. Above average mobility, but not near NHL level. Was exposed by Shinkaruk in particular.
  • Juho Olkinuora: Even forgetting his great hit along the sideboards against Nieto, Olkinuora showed exceptional confidence. Tracked the play well, controlled rebounds. Very good with the puck. Didn’t communicate with this defence well.

Young Stars Coverage

You can check out our detailed game reports and a general overview at the links below.

  • Franko J

    Great article.

    Good to see Monahan and Grandlund selected as 1 and 2 centres in the tournament.

    For years and years this team clamoured for centres and although a very small size, the future at the pivot spot appears to be brighter than it has been in a very long time.

    When was the last time this team has been mentioned at the center position without talking about who was going to compliment a certain RW?

    I stand corrected and would like to apologize for my earlier remarks about Keegan Kanzig being no more than a “pylon” after he was drafted. With improved skating he will be scary to play against in the future. Just like Ferland, Kanzig has plenty of attributes it just a matter of time of figuring out what it will take to be a pro at the next level.

    If there is one thing that is most notable with this tournament is the fact the Flames drafting is improving. The team is beginning to draft players who fans can be excited about.

    • I think the skill is being drafted. As we are seeing guys like Ferland and Knazig may be a reach but could end up being home runs. And, they aren’t being drafted at the expense of drafting skilled guys but rather, as well as drafting skilled guys.

    • Prairie Chicken by-the-Sea

      Has anyone else looked at the rosters for the three teams? I’m trying to figure out who they have Sven playing with on the third team? He struggled so much in my mind at the tournie and now I’m not sure who he will be matched with. I look at the other teams as well and worry about building line chemistry when many of the possible lines make little sense to me.

  • Prairie Chicken by-the-Sea

    Kevin, indeed nice analysis. Agree with most of your selections.

    Having attended all the games in Penticton I certailnly have to say that Hunter Shinkaruk was outstanding and made a huge impact with his play. As much as I like Poirier no question Shinkaruk wins this battle hands down.

    In my view Ferland was the best Flames forward if not in the entire tournament. points and strong physical presence. Also a strong leader on and off the ice. Players gravitate towards him in the seats watching the other games. A strong leader and greatly recognized by his teammates.

    I thought Ortio has made great strides in the past year. I had him rated at the bottom end of Flame goalie prospects but has obviously leaped forward as a result of Penticton.

    Monahan is the real deal and smooth as silk. Nine Flames games, another year in Ottawa and playing world juniors will be all that his required for him to be a starting centre in 2014.

    In the future I think Ramage and Seiloff will be tough highly skilled defenseman for years to come.

    I would have liked to see the Flames vs Jets as I believe both franchises have the best young talent.

    Thanks again for the grat analysis!

    • Kevin McCartney

      Ferland is a good choice for best forward on the Flames. He was really great in game one, and was one the best forwards at gaining zone entry in the tournament for sure. I knocked him a bit for being a touch older and also for his offensive zone play in game two, where he looked a little confused by Monahan. I thought his vertical game and cycle game were impressive but that he didn’t show as much as Monahan and Granlund in terms of creating offence in other ways. Hardly a knock on a player to be in a conversation with those two, though. Didn’t see him in the stands – that’s a neat moment to witness, the social part of a tournament team.

  • beloch

    Shinkaruk might be a pest in the best case scenario, but he might just be a discipline problem. The way he threw his stick down on the ice and threw a tantrum while play was still live after Ortio robbed him… Not acceptable. He’s going to need to be quite exceptional for any team to put up with that crap.

  • BurningSensation

    So….the Oilers send Klefbom. Gernat and Marincin at defense, but it’s Keegan ‘Killdozer’ Kanzig who gets the honorable mention,

    Nice. 🙂

      • BurningSensation

        I’m more jacked by the sheer volume of prospects we have bubbling under. Monahan gets 1st team, Granlund and Ramage 2nd, Ortio, Ferland, and Kanzig HMs.

        And not an Oiler in sight (ok, ok, Marco Roy was an HM)

        As a rebuilding team having that many guys flashing strong potential is a serious cause for optimism!

        Monahan being our top pick in a deep draft is no surprise, and with Ramage being older he really isn’t either. But Granlund, Ortio, Ferland and Kanzig were all something of a surprise for me at the tournament.

        To steal from Andrew Sullivan, ‘know hope’

        • Kevin McCartney

          In fairness to Oiler fans, they are quick to point out that three of their skilled forward prospects stayed in Russia during the tournament, and they had a couple injuries coming into the tournament to Moroz and Petryk (an invite). Yeah, they’ve graduated a lot of young talent, but in contrast to the Flames (and others), I don’t we saw the best prospect team possible for the Oilers.

          The Oiler roster decision I’m most confused by is bringing 8 left handed defencemen and 0 right handed ones. Tough way to evaluate your blue line, never mind win games.

          • seve927

            The Flames were missing a lot of prospects too. Probably 5 of their top 15 in Gaudreau (2), Gillies, Klimchuk(top 10) and arguably Jankowski, Arnold and Agostino as well. And several others in DeBlouw, Gilmour, Rafikov, Harrison. I’d hardly say that this is the best prospect team they could ice.

          • Kevin McCartney

            Good point. My first thought was to the number of older players (young pros, college grads, etc) that the Flames brought (including guys like Knight and Baertschi and Ramage and Hanowski). But you’re right – the Klimchuk injury is a much bigger deal than the Moroz injury, and they have a few important guys missing as well.

            It’s definitely an exciting time to be a Flames fan if you like following prospects!

        • beloch

          To be fair to the Oilers, Yakupov (19), the Nuge (20) and Hall (21) are all young enough to have been in this tournament and probably would have topped everyone’s lists. The flipside is that they really don’t have many other kids left in their system to get excited about. Also, while they will be hard pressed to make the playoffs this year and may peak as a bubble team, the Oilers probably won’t pick in the top 5 again for quite a while.

          I’m a little worried about Vancouver personally. They have decidedly too many good prospects for a team that was recently a cup contender. If they choose to squander that in a bid to contend, I hope Burke and Feaster (Beaster?) are first in line to fleece them (so long as they don’t try to pick up Shinkaruk)!

          What I find encouraging for the Flames is that they made such a good showing with so many top prospects out of the picture! Gillies, Gaudreau, Klimchuk , and Jankowski (okay, I’m being optimistic about Janko.) were all unable to attend the tournament.

          • Jeff Lebowski

            You nailed it. You very well should have great young talent with first overall picks. The life blood of a team is how fruitful later rounds are.

            Calgary seems to have done this with so many mentions. Sven not at all distinguished but it means less with the relative abundance of good showings that impressed McCartney. Recall how good the college kids were in dev camp. I can see it in Jankowski too. Gaudreau in the mix?! Agostino and Arnold would have impressed in Penticton just like they did in Calgary. Jooris might be better than Knight. Calgary is deep with prospects. I mean scary deep. Huge kudos to Weisbrod and scouts. It could get even better with upcoming drafts.

            I really believe they’re on to something special.

            With the comments on Poirier I think he didn’t get the opportunity to really showcase his game because Calgary just rotated special team personnel. Poirier on PK would really show how valuable his skillset is.

            My prediction is that Monahan, Poirier and Culkin with make the backbone of the future PK. It will be a weapon.

            If Ferland and Kanzig are actual players you have two very tough kids to make Burke happy. Not to mention police the front and back end. Wishful I know, but you can kind of see that they have what it takes (perhaps not right now but…).

            Ortio and it looks like Gillies too?! One word: assets. Valuable assets.

            Why worry about any other team with Calgary’s future prospects already looking good? Their fans should be worried about Calgary.

    • Prairie Chicken by-the-Sea

      Cheer up Kent. If I had to cheer for the Jets, and the Bombers, AND live in Winnipeg I’d tend to be bitter and lash out as well.

      That said, great analysis by Kevin. I especially appreciate the insightful comparison of Poirier and Shinkaruk. We will be watching that matchup for years.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    I’ve been impressed with your analysis of this tourney Kevin. To be able to pick out that much detail is difficult, as so much is happening so fast on the ice. It is also clear you have a fluent understanding of the game. Nice work.

  • Kevin McCartney

    Poirier was honestly hard to leave off and I maybe have cheated for balance a bit unintentionally.

    Shinkaruk and Poirier were both first (live) viewings for me, so maybe you’re right about their development arcs. Shinkaruk was a better player in this tournament (3 games, mind you) primarily because he creates offence for himself. Poirier has great hands and good sense in the offensive end, but uses a limited set of patterns to attack and most of them need a second person. His transition game and zone entries used a second player, while Shinkaruk backed defenders off the line with this speed. In defensive transition, Shinkaruk was harder on the puck on his wing. Poirier drives the net very well and read off Monahan in game one to great effect. He really creates havoc for defenders and has the hands to be a good scorer from dangerous areas. He’s just not as dynamic or creative. He got in the way of Granlund and Hanowski in cycle in game two and attacked better vertically than he did off the side boards.

    The knock of Shinkaruk, of course, is that perhaps his size will hold him back at the NHL level when his skating won’t necessarily be better than his opponent’s. So I can’t say Poirier won’t be better in 3 years time, but in three games this September, was Calgary’s fourth best forward after Monahan, Granlund, and Ferland.

    As for Kichton, I think we’ll see some conservative coaches squawk about his risk taking to the point that he’ll remain in an up-hill battle his whole career. For now, I think Kichton’s better in defensive coverage than advertised, and not as selfish as he might have been made out to be. As I said about him elsewhere, though, he has very little power in his transition strides, making it very hard for him to battle while pivoting. That’s a key skill for defencemen at the pro level in order to keep tight gaps and he’ll need to add core strength before he’s an effective defender.

  • McRib

    Nice piece only surprise is no mention of Emile Poirier. Especially when Hunter Shinkaruk was so highly regarded, head-to-head Poirier looked far more superior to me. I’m baised of course, but Hunter Shinkaruk just doesn’t seem to have improved his game much over the past year and a half (possibly even regressed). If he is going to make the NHL its with this current skill set is it enough? Where Poirier is only touching the surface after he improved his skating by leaps and bounds late in the second half last year.

    Nic Petan is a stud, still kind of wish we took him with that Klimchuk pick (not that I don’t like him) or if the Flames would stop trading our second rounder’s could have got him as well!!!! He is a Top. 10 talent except for size. I actually think having undersized forwards like Johnny Gaudreau, Markus Granlund in the ranks was a deterrent for drafting Petan. Why don’t teams just draft best available and then trade if necessary.

    Still wonder why NYI didn’t sign Brenden Kichton?!?! Everything else was bang on, Winnipeg is quitely putting together a solid crop of prospects.