In 6 days the community of Penticton will once again open its arms and embrace the Young Stars hockey tournament. This tournament brings together some of the most dynamic young hockey players that the Western Canadian NHL teams (Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, and Winnipeg Jets) have to offer.
The full roster for Vancouver was announced last night. Take a look at it here. There are a lot of really intriguing names here, let’s take a glance at the Goaltenders and Defensemen who will be donning the Orca next weekend.
For the first time in a long time, the Canucks are supplying themselves with their own prospects in net. The past years have seen the organization use undrafted and unsigned goaltenders for the weekend. This is the result of a combination of strict attendance regulations in the NCAA and Age/Experience restrictions for players currently playing professional hockey in the lower pro leagues.
Former second round pick Thatcher Demko decided to forgo his remaining NCAA eligibility and start his progression to the NHL. Who can blame him? He has won the Frozen Four; been a member of Team USA at both the World Juniors and the World Championship; Finalist for the Hobey Baker award; and named Goalie of the Year in the NCAA (Mike Richter award).
One of the best College free agent scoops, Michael Garteig from Quinnipiac of the NCAA brings eerily similar numbers to the above mentioned Demko, Garteig comes to Penticton with the hopes of finding himself a long term spot in the Canucks family. Fresh off a trip to the NCAA finals, Garteig signed a 1-year ‘prove yourself’ free agent contract this offseason.
The third man in the crease will be camp invite Rylan Parenteau, who plays for the Prince Albert Raiders (WHL). The two year WHL veteran will likely see limited action, but if he impresses the coaching staff during the 4 day event he will be a player of interest at the conclusion of this season
How a year changes things! Last year Ben Hutton was a college graduate hoping to find a spot within the Canucks organization. This year, he’s nowhere to be found on the Young Stars roster because his solid Young Stars camp parlayed into a great training camp which turned into a good rookie season in the NHL. This is the prime example of why this tournament can change a young player’s fortunes. Here are some players hoping that this year they are able to make the same jump!
As everyone should know, the Canucks held the 5th pick in the draft this year and after reading the SBN Mock draft (that's twice we've got it right), Jim Benning and Co. decided to heed our advice and select Olli Juolevi. The big, smooth Finnish defenseman is just what the Doctor ordered and gives us that blue chip prospect on the back end that we haven’t had since Luc Bourdon (RIP).
Richmond, BC native Troy Stecher signed a 2 year contract with the team this year after the conclusion of his National Championship season at North Dakota. Stecher was the 6th highest point contributor in the NCAA last season posting 29 points in 43 games. The diminutive defenseman, plays a quick offensive minded game similar to Dan Boyle and Duncan Keith.
Our late round steal from this year’s draft might well end up being Cole Candella. Candella was at one time seen as a late first round selection which might lead you to believe that this was a buy-low moment in the 5th round. Candella is the model of consistency. He’s a player who has good puck skills and a decent skating technique to go along with a willingness to play shut down defence. His draft stock was hurt this year because of a injuries, but an injury free season in the OHL this year will help elevate his standing in the organization.
Let’s not forget about Jordan Subban! The youngest Subban has completed his first season of professional hockey amassing 36 points for the Utica Comets in 67 games. The questions about how his lack of height will hinder his aspirations of being an NHL player are starting to lessen. Anticipate another year of seasoning in the AHL before he takes a real run at a full time NHL spot in 2017-18.
One of the bright spots offensively for our prospects this year on defense was Carl Neill. While serving as Captain of the Sherbrooke Phoenix, Neill put together 8 goals and 42 assists to lead all ‘Nucks defensive prospects in scoring! I’ll admit, he looked like a fish out of water at last year’s tournament but after a nice season last year he should be more comfortable and present himself better this year!
Speaking of Captains from the QMJHL, Guillaume Brisebois had a relatively quiet season with the Acadie-Bathurst Titans with 26 points in 52 games. There’s nothing overly splashy about his game, it’s just really quietly solid and projects to be a middle pairing d-man if he all goes according to plan. Brisbois was traded in the offseason to the Charlottetown Islanders and will probably spend the 2016-17 on Prince Edward Island before turning pro.
In addition to the aforementioned players the defense corps has returned several players from last year’s squad. This includes: Olivier Galipeau, Mackenze Stewart, Evan McEnery, Ashton Sautner and Tate Olson.
There you have it! A look at those defending the back end for our entry into this year's Young Stars tournament. Who intrigues you? Who do you want to see the most from this group?
Originally this was going to be an all-in-one piece, but there are too many exciting prospects that need discussing to condense it into one piece without it being 85,000 words! The next article will have a detailed look at our forwards.