Ryan Kennedy

Ryan Kennedy is the associate senior writer and draft/prospect expert at The Hockey News. He has been with the publication since 2005 and in that span, Don Cherry, Lil Jon and The Rock have all called his house. He lives in Toronto with his wife and kids where he listens to loud music and collects NCAA pennants.

There are some bad omens for Canada’s junior program right now

Ryan Kennedy
World junior heartbreak  (Photo credit should read Markku Ulander/AFP/Getty Images)

On Wednesday, Canada was eliminated from medal contention at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament in Slovakia. Russia and Sweden will move on from the pool, and hey; those are both great national programs. But Canada has won the under-18 event (which also has games in the Czech Republic) 18 of the past 20 years. Yes, only twice have they lost the gold medal game in that span.

Now, call it a one-off if you will, but ignore the trends at your own peril: Canada’s junior dominance continues to slide.

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San Jose Sharks reveal new logos and ‘Los Tiburones’ jersey

Ryan Kennedy
(Image courtesy of the San Jose Sharks)

It wasn’t so long ago that the San Jose Sharks updated their predatory logo, but the more the merrier, right? Coming off the franchise’s first-ever appearance in the Stanley Cup final, the Sharks have released new logos and a special ‘Los Tiburones’ jersey for 2016-17. As you can see above, it’s a pretty sweet jersey. ‘Los Tiburones’ is a local nickname for the team and, duh, means ‘Sharks’ in Spanish. I love the font used and it’s worth noting that the man who designed it, Terry Smith, also created the Sharks’ very first logo. As for the other marks, you’ll notice the shark is a lot more toothy:

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Kristian Vesalainen is Finland’s power forward threat for the 2017 draft

Ryan Kennedy
Kristian Vesalainen  (Photo by Tommy Holl/Frolunda Gothenburg/Champions Hockey League via Getty Images)

It’s impossible to watch Kristian Vesalainen right now and not get excited about where he’ll be once the world juniors roll around almost five months from now. Already 6-foot-3 and 203 pounds, Vesalainen has a gold medal under his belt from Finland’s world under-18s victory in North Dakota this past season and has already played against men in the SHL.

Yes, one of Finland’s best prospects is playing in Sweden.

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The top 40 players at the National Junior Evaluation Camp

Joel Eriksson-Ek (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

There was a lot of international talent in Plymouth, Michigan last week. Team USA hosted its summer National Junior Evaluation Camp (NJEC) in the town, with the dual purpose of seeing what the Americans have for the upcoming world juniors and facing great competition from Canada, Sweden and Finland.

In the end, Canada lost all three of its games, while the other nations went 2-1. Is that a concern for the Canucks, who host the world juniors in Toronto and Montreal this winter? Not so much. As coach Dominique Ducharme pointed out, it was August. There’s still a lot of hockey to be played and his charges hadn’t seen meaningful competition in months.

On the other hand, what do you say about players who had great performances in Michigan? Surely that says something about those teens’ preparation.

Here’s a look at the top 40 players that I saw in Michigan – with a caveat. I saw each team play twice and in the case of Canada and the U.S., sometimes I saw a player once or not at all. So I’m not going to rank those kids, as it wouldn’t be fair. That means players such as Pierre-Luc Dubois, Travis Konecny and Anthony Beauvillier aren’t eligible.

Others, such as Carl Grundstrom and Lucas Carlsson, got injured either before I got there or within the first few shifts.

So if you don’t see your favorite prospect here, that could be the reason. Or, they just didn’t distinguish themselves to me. Doesn’t mean they’re a bust, doesn’t mean I hate them. With that out of the way, let’s get to the list:

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Meet the trainers: These six men help NHL stars get ready to shine

Ryan Kennedy
Tyler Seguin and Matt Nichol. (BioSteel)

It takes expert knowledge to create finely tuned NHL machines. Here are six of the best builders in the business.

MATT NICHOL

Big Clients: Tyler Seguin, Mike Cammalleri, Wayne Simmonds

There’s a lot of noise in the training world, and for an experienced vet such as Nichol, it’s important to straddle the line between innovation and data clutter. “Everything has been about analytics lately, and that has trickled down to sport science and guys like me,” he said. “But the fundamentals are still really important. That has been my revelation.”

Nichol’s first concern when the summer arrives is to make sure his client-athletes are actually ready to perform. He does this through musculoskeletal assessments. Players may come into Nichol’s care with a specific off-season goal – gain five pounds of muscle, increase their explosiveness – but it becomes irrelevant if the client isn’t ready. A bad knee, poor sleep patterns or nutrition and movement issues are barriers that must be dealt with first. So Nichol deals with them, ensuring he is working with “healthy, happy human beings.”

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World junior camp: Canada must rely on stars

Mitch Marner (photo courtesy Markku Ulander/AFP/Getty Images)

PLYMOUTH, MICH. – It was a desultory loss for Canada, dropping their second-last contest of the summer world junior camp tournament 5-1 to Sweden. And to be fair, only some of Canada’s best players were in the game. Dylan Strome, Mitch Marner and Tyson Jost made up the marquee top line, but big performers such as Lawson Crouse, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Travis Konecny sat out.

But if Canada is going to win the real thing this winter, it’s players such as Strome and Marner who must lead the way.

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