The world under-18s are in full swing right now and boy, has it been an easy ride for North America. We knew going in that Team USA would be dominant, and the Jack Hughes/Cole Caufield Show has somehow exceeded expectations (Caufield is zeroing in on Alex Ovechkin's tourney record of 14 goals). But let’s also show some love for Team Canada, which has put together a potent offensive attack, despite only having access to some of its talent pool, due to the CHL playoffs.
The biggest surprise however, has been Belarus – which entered the final day of round robin play in second place of Group A, right behind Canada. With Latvia also qualifying for the quarterfinal, that meant that more traditional hockey nations Slovakia and either Finland or Switzerland will battle to avoid relegation.
Elsewhere, the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit were dealt a cruel blow when goalie and Arizona Coyotes pick Ivan Prosvetov was suspended five games for batting the puck into the crowd against Guelph. It’s an automatic suspension, with the rule designed to protect fans, but it’s a tough pill to swallow for the Spirit nonetheless. With all that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the other kids making noise this week.
Brayden Tracey, LW, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL): A standout rookie with the Warriors this season, Tracey has been very noticeable with Canada at the under-18s. The 2019 draft prospect has excellent hockey sense and anticipation, not to mention a sweet grab-bag of offensive moves. His six points through three games was tied for tops on the team. NHL arrival: 2021-22
Vladislav Kolyachonok, D, Flint Firebirds (OHL): The most high-profile name on upstart Belarus, Kolyachonok impressed scouts in Flint this season with his strong all-around game and his ability to rush the puck. At the world under-18s, the 2019 draft prospect has been one of the highest-scoring defensemen in the tourney with five points through four games. NHL arrival: 2021-22
Matthew Boldy, LW, U.S. NTDP (USHL): Since we’ve already mentioned Hughes and Caufield, let’s shift focus to another 2019 draft prospect having a dynamic world under-18s. Boldy, the Boston College commit, is an elite scorer with a big frame and incredible hand-eye co-ordination. Through three games, he had posted nine points. NHL arrival: 2021-22
Karl Henriksson, C, Frolunda (Swe.): Playing with young phenoms Alex Holtz and Lucas Raymond, Henriksson is a coach’s favorite, playing a smart, responsible game and ranking top-five in faceoff acumen at the under-18s with a 64.5 percent win rate. The 2019 draft prospect also has five points through three games to lead the Swedes. NHL arrival: 2021-22
Rasmus Sandin, D, Toronto Marlies (AHL): The Marlies are defending their AHL title and are up two games on Rochester early on. Sandin, the well-rounded and mobile rookie pro, has gotten off to a great start with four points in those two games, propelling him to the top of the league leaderboard for points by a defenseman. NHL arrival: 2020-21
Nick Suzuki, C, Guelph Storm (OHL): With Prosvetov out, the Storm have a great opportunity to come back in their series against Saginaw and Suzuki will be a key. The Montreal Canadiens prospect leads the OHL in playoff scoring with 24 points in 14 games, using his combination of skill and smarts to make opponents pay. NHL arrival: 2020-21
Isaiah Saville, G, Tri-City Storm (USHL): Not to be lost in everything else, the USHL playoffs have begun and the Storm continue to romp after running away with the regular season title. Saville, the 2019 draft prospect and University of Nebraska-Omaha commit, has stayed steady in net, rocking a 1.50 goals-against average and .936 save percentage in his first two wins over Des Moines. NHL arrival: 2023-24
Pierre-Olivier Joseph, D, Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL): The Volts have a tough task at hand with the Memorial Cup host Halifax Mooseheads, but Drummondville does have a lot of weapons, too. Joseph, the Arizona Coyotes first-rounder has three points in his past four games and the puckmoving abilities to really change a series. NHL arrival: 2020-21
Adam Beckman, LW, Spokane Chiefs (WHL): A bit of a sleeper for the 2019 draft, Beckman has been excellent for the Chiefs in his rookie campaign, breaking 30 goals in the regular season and putting up five points in his past five playoff games. Beckman is a smart player with great instincts and soft pair of mitts. NHL arrival: 2022-23
Filip Koffer, RW, Dynamo Pardubice (Cze.): I can’t pretend that Koffer was on my radar before the under-18s, but the 2019 draft prospect has certainly gained some spotlight, leading the Czechs in scoring with four goals and six points through three games. Koffer has displayed great patience with the puck and a knack for finding the scoring areas. NHL arrival: 2022-23.