U-18 gold: Canada makes it 8 straight at Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament

Josh Elliott
Pierre-Luc Dubois

Though it’s named for a Czechoslovakian player, make no mistake: the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament has historically belonged to Canada.

That was once again the case on Saturday, as Canada’s latest under-18 squad dropped Sweden 7-3 in the championship game. It was Canada’s eighth straight win at the tournament, and its 20th championship in the tournament’s 25-year history.
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Get your first look at Jack Eichel in full Sabres gear as rookie signs with Bauer

Jared Clinton
Jack Eichel (via Bauer/Twitter)

Thanks to additions such as Evander Kane, Ryan O’Reilly and coach Dan Bylsma, the anticipation for the new-look Buffalo Sabres is high. But it’s the excitement around potential star Jack Eichel that really has Sabres fans anxiously awaiting puck drop.

Eichel has taken part in scrimmages, development camp and has been around the team for more than a month at this point, but finally fans can get their first look at what the young No. 15 will look like in Sabres blue and gold.

As part of a promotional announcement for Eichel joining the Bauer Hockey roster, the 2015 draft’s second overall selection took part in a photoshoot in which he donned full gear. Here it is, Sabres fans: Read more

Devils sign first-rounder Zacha to entry-level deal, rookie wants roster spot in 2015-16

Jared Clinton
Pavel Zacha. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The New Jersey Devils are without a doubt going to get younger as a team and they took one of the first big steps towards that Tuesday, signing 18-year-old first-round pick Pavel Zacha to a three-year entry level deal.

Zacha, 18, was selected sixth overall by the Devils in the 2015 draft. Suiting up for the Sarnia Sting this past season, Zacha registered 16 goals and 34 points in 37 games and took off to play internationally for the Czech Republic at both the under-18 and under-20 World Junior Championships. At the U18 tournament, Zacha notched five goals in five games, adding another goal and two points at the U20 competition.

“It’s my goal for this season to play in the NHL, and now I just have to show everyone I can make the team and I’ll do everything for that (chance),” Zacha told NHL.com. “Camp is coming up and I am going there and I am going to get ready now for it. I’ve never been in a full camp of the NHL before; I was just at Devils (development) camp.” Read more

Blue Jackets prospect Peter Quenneville looking to land contract overseas

Jared Clinton
Peter Quenneville (Melissa Baecker/Getty Images)

One season after captaining the Brandon Wheat Kings to a WHL-best 53-win, 114-point season, Peter Quenneville is looking to take his game across the pond.

Rumors surfaced Monday that Quenneville, 21, was seeking a contract in Finland after his agency, 2112 Hockey, posted that the Edmonton native was under contract in SM-Liiga. While he doesn’t yet have a contract in Finland, it appears that could be the next destination for Quenneville, whose NHL rights are owned by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

“We’ve targeted him to hopefully play (in SM-Liiga),” said Darryl Wolski, Quenneville’s agent. “We’re working with a few teams to get an official offer for him pretty soon.” Read more

How slow and steady won the race for Canucks prospect Cole Cassels

Oshawa's Cole Cassels  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Kelowna’s Leon Draisaitl was the Memorial Cup MVP, but in two games (plus a minute and a half of overtime), the Edmonton Oilers prospect didn’t have a single point against the Oshawa Generals, who raised the major junior trophy thanks to a 2-1 overtime win over the Rockets. Instant hero Anthony Cirelli, a 2015 draft prospect, scored both goals in the final, but Cole Cassels was the embodiment of a Generals squad that grinded, smothered and physically punished teams all year long.

Cassels, taken 85th overall by Vancouver in 2013, helped suffocate Connor McDavid in the OHL final, holding the Erie Otters phenom to one point in the first two games of Oshawa’s five-game series triumph. Oh, and Cassels wasn’t on the ice for that power play assist.

A premier two-way center who also packs a physical wallop, Cassels was a revelation for the Generals.

“He’s the guy that makes our team go,” said coach D.J. Smith. “Offensively, defensively, penalty kill, power play; he’s the first guy on the ice for every situation and he’s the last guy on at the end of the game. He’s the heartbeat of this team.” Read more

Goaltender Dylan St-Cyr, son of Manon Rheaume, commits to Michigan

Jared Clinton
Dylan St. Cyr & Manon Rheaume (Photo by Ken Campbell)

It’s not all that rare to hear of an NHLer who has followed in his father’s footsteps, but 16-year-old goaltender Dylan St-Cyr is trying to follow in the footsteps of someone else: his mother, Manon Rheaume, who was the first woman to play in an NHL pre-season game.

To get there, St-Cyr is going to be going the college route.

It was announced Thursday that St-Cyr, who spent this past season with the Detroit Honeybaked program, has committed to play with the Michigan Wolverines for the 2018-19 campaign. Born in Las Vegas but having spent his past three seasons tending goal with Honeybaked, it’s not all that far from home for the 16-year-old netminder. Read more

Futures mailbag: best of the 2015 draft’s defensemen, Scott Laughton and more

Noah Hanifin (photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Thanks to summer world junior camps, prospects have been in the spotlight this week and for some, that meant reinforcing decisions on where they will play next season. Calgary’s Brandon Hickey says he’s going back to Boston University, Leafs pick Jeremy Bracco confirmed his commitment to Boston College and Zach Werenski is indeed headed back to Michigan. And speaking of Werenski, he’s part of our first mailbag question this week. As always, if you have a draft or prospect-related question, hit me up on Twitter at @THNRyanKennedy, using the hashtag #thnfutures with your question.

Let’s get to it.

Which of the first round 2015 defensemen has the biggest upside? And who is closest to being in the lineup?

– Tomas Djupsjobacka (@tdjupsjo)

In terms of upside, I’d go with either Carolina’s Noah Hanifin or Columbus’ Zach Werenski. Both have great size and skating ability, plus they can play in all situations. If you had asked me right after the draft who was closest to being in the lineup, I would have said Philadelphia’s Ivan Provorov, since he has the hockey IQ and physical edge to compete right away. But then Carolina signed Hanifin to his entry-level deal, ending his Boston College career after one stellar campaign. Perhaps he goes to the AHL this season, but given Carolina’s lack of depth on the back end, Hanifin may end up being the answer to both questions (Provorov also has more competition in Philly).

 

Very curious about your opinion on Sean Day’s development in Mississauga

– Alex Sloan (@Alex_Sloan)

Funny how that question became a flashpoint this week, what with Day missing the cut for Canada’s under-18 Ivan Hlinka squad. But I can also expand on the defenseman’s trajectory here. I think Day has been good so far in Mississauga, but this will be a huge year for him – and not just because he’s up for the draft. Conditioning was reportedly a factor in his national team cut, so that should be a priority. The Steelheads are also growing around him, so I need to see good offensive numbers, but also improvement in his own end. With his natural physical gifts, Day has great potential as an NHLer, if he can harness it and become a student of the game.

 

Which five NHL teams do you feel are in the best position when it comes to prospects and which five are in the worst position?

– Keenan Clarry (@KeenanClarry)

Here’s my best:

Edmonton – The high end of Connor McDavid and Darnell Nurse vaults the Oilers to the top since McDavid is such a sure thing. I’m also a big William Lagesson fan.

Buffalo – Jack Eichel is the Sabres’ McDavid equivalent, plus you have Sam Reinhart, Justin Bailey and some nice long-term catches in Will Borgen and Christopher Brown.

Winnipeg – The deepest pool. Nikolaj Ehlers, Josh Morrissey, Nic Petan, Connor Hellebuyck, Eric Comrie, Kyle Connor, Erik Foley…it’s almost unfair at this point.

Arizona – Another great assembly with Max Domi, Anthony Duclair, Dylan Strome, Christian Dvorak, Max Letunov, Brendan Perlini and Nick Merkley,

Anaheim – Already a great team, the Ducks have reinforcements ready in Nick Ritchie, Nic Kerdiles, Shea Theodore and Kevin Roy, plus longer-term gems such as Julius Nattinen and Jacob Larsson.

And my worst, with the caveat that some of these teams are in a win-now window and have therefore sacrificed prospects:

San Jose – Timo Meier and Nikolay Goldobin are solid, but not much depth behind them.

Pittsburgh – Derrick Pouliot used to be surrounded; now he’s one of the last elite prospects in the pipeline.

New Jersey – Pavel Zacha will help, but there isn’t much more scoring coming otherwise.

Toronto – Mitch Marner, Kasperi Kapanen and Scott Harrington have all really helped the Leafs’ outlook recently in this category, but they were thin before.

New York Rangers – Just don’t have the critical mass of prospects since they’re in their Stanley Cup window right now. Adam Tambellini and Pavel Buchnevich are good, though.

 

It’s been three years since he was drafted, but what can we expect from Scott Laughton?

– Vincent Mongrain (@vincentM10)

If the Flyers move out Vincent Lecavalier, Laughton is in a great position to make an impact on Philadelphia’s third line – which may not sound impressive for a first-rounder, but it’s a good role because Laughton can handle the responsibility. With Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier ahead of him, Laughton won’t be getting the big assignments in the early parts of his career anyway, but he can be a solid contributor and a two-way player.

 

Blue Jackets first-round pick Zach Werenski heading back to NCAA

Jared Clinton
Zach Werenski. (Tom Sorensen/USA Hockey)

The Columbus Blue Jackets made Zach Werenski the eighth overall pick in the 2015 draft, but the 18-year-old defenseman won’t be suiting up in Ohio quite yet.

Instead of playing for the Blue Jackets in 2015-16, Werenski will instead return to the NCAA, where he plays for the University of Michigan. This past season, on a Michigan team that finished third in the Big Ten, Werenski was a standout, scoring nine goals and 25 points in 35 games.

There were rumors that Werenski could be heading to the OHL, where the London Knights owned his rights after selecting him in the second round of the 2013 draft. But Werenski confirmed to NHL.com that he would be returning for his sophomore season with the Wolverines. Read more