Once again, Team USA has won the world under-18s thanks to a roster made up almost entirely of NTDP kids. Though one interesting takeaway from the tourney was goaltending. The Americans went with underager Evan Sarthou of WHL Tri-City, while Canada had a tandem of underagers in Moose Jaw’s Zach Sawchenko and Saginaw’s Evan Cormier. Sure, 2015 looks like a thin goalie draft, but this was a pretty interesting trend. With that point behind us, let’s look at some of the other prospects making noise in the hockey world right now.
Jack Eichel, C – Boston University Terriers (Hockey East)
Team USA is going very young at the World Championship this year, with Eichel part of a crew that also includes Jimmy Vesey, Connor Hellebuyck and even Auston Matthews (at least for an exhibition game). For a player who has lived the NTDP life and repped his country many times, Eichel is down for another go.
“It’s a huge honor; it always is to represent your country,” he said. “But this particular event, it’s a really nice compliment to be considered at this point in my career. I’m just really excited for it.”
Eichel’s last game was the crushing Frozen Four loss to Providence. And though the team and related families all rallied around goalie Matt O’Connor, it’s still a tough memory for the consensus No. 2 pick this summer.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever fully recover,” Eichel said. “That one stung a lot. But after a few days, we were able to look back at our season and realize what accomplishments we had.”
That included a Beanpot trophy, Hockey East regular season and playoff titles and a Frozen Four regionals win – not bad for a team that won 10 games the year prior.
“Out of the five trophies we played for, we won four of them,” Eichel said. “I don’t think any other team can say that.”
Can the young Americans make a shocking run at the worlds now? They did win bronze a couple years ago with John Gibson, Alex Galchenyuk and Jacob Trouba on board, after all. And based on the size, skill and skating that Eichel possesses, anything is possible. Draft eligible in 2015.
Colin White, C – U.S. NTDP (USHL)
The Boston College commit netted the golden goal for Team USA at the world under-18s, kneecapping the Finns in overtime. Speedy, talented and responsible, White helped shut down the Canadians in the semifinal, dominating possession on his shifts. Draft eligible in 2015.
Veini Vehvilainen, G – JYP (Fin.)
Finland has been known for goalie prospects in recent years and though Vehvilainen doesn’t have the size of his predecessors, he did step up huge at the world under-18s, stopping 60 shots in the heartbreaking 2-1 OT loss to the Americans. Strangely enough, Vehvilainen usually plays better locally than internationally. Draft eligible in 2015.
Hunter Shinkaruk, LW – Utica Comets (AHL)
The rookie sniper has been in on three of Utica’s first four goals in the playoffs, as the Comets are tied 1-1 with Chicago. Shinkaruk has always been a gifted shooter, but his rookie pro season has encouraged him to up his battle level and get to the net more, too. Drafted 24th overall by Vancouver in 2013.
Ryan Graves, D – Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
The Remparts are red-hot, owning a 3-0 series lead over Moncton and the towering Graves has played a big part. The 6-foot-5 blueliner has points in his past four games, which is great since he’s known better as a shutdown man. Graves also has championship experience as a member of last year’s Val-d’Or squad. Drafted 110th overall by the New York Rangers in 2013.
Kasperi Kapanen, RW – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL)
A player who has been up and down in his career many times already, Kapanen has risen to the occasion early in his AHL stint. The quick and talented son of Sami Kapanen has three goals in two post-season games for the Baby Pens, who hold a 2-0 series lead over Syracuse. Drafted 22nd overall by Pittsburgh in 2014.
Jan Kostalek, D – Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
The Czech national, who was very good for his nation at the world juniors, is continuing his excellent pressure play in the post-season for Rimouski. The Oceanic blueliner has points in his past three contests (all wins) and also plays a smart defensive game. Drafted 114th overall by Winnipeg in 2013.
Nick Moutrey, RW – North Bay Battalion (OHL)
Brought in from Saginaw to bolster the Troops, Moutrey has done his part – especially in the post-season. Never a fun player to line up against, Moutrey is big and hard-nosed, while also possessing the offensive skills that have allowed him to put up a point per game in the playoffs so far. Drafted 105th overall by Columbus in 2013.
Cooper Marody, C – Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)
Sioux Falls is in tough against a stingy Tri-City squad and if the Stampede has a chance, Marody will play a big part. The University of Michigan commit has great puck skills and instincts, while functioning as either a shooter or a playmaker. He has seven points through six playoff games. Draft eligible in 2015.
Jayce Hawrlyuk, C – Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
Hawrlyuk has been held off the scoresheet just once in the playoffs so far – and that was in the opening game. Since then, the smart and tough pivot has been running and gunning, registering multi-point games in every second game for the high-flying Wheaties. Drafted 32nd overall in 2014.