The World Junior Summer Showcase just ended and there were plenty of highlights and impressive performances among all the countries that participated. While there were many top performers, NHL.com’s Adam Kimelman picks out 10 players who stood out at the WJSS, putting quite a bit of emphasis on the play of Montreal Canadiens and U.S. prospect Cole Caufield, who tied for the WJSS lead with four goals and seven points, including three highlight-reel goals in each of his final three games. Early indications might suggest that the Canadiens may have gotten a steal with the 15th pick in this year’s draft after slipping a bit because of his size (5-foot-7).
While a number of first-round picks from both the 2018 and 2019 drafts are mentioned in his top 10, three players from the incoming 2020 draft were also on his list, including projected top pick Alexis Lafreniere as well as Alexander Holtz and Lucas Raymond, both who are considered potential top-10 picks next season and were considered to be some of the most gifted forwards on Sweden’s team.
The only non-first-rounder mentioned in his top 10 was forward Sampo Ranta, a fourth-round pick in 2018 by the Colorado Avalanche. Raanta was the final player to get cut from last year’s Finnish WJC gold medal team and scored four goals and six points for Finland last week. He will return to the University of Minnesota, but could be a top prospect for the Avalanche to keep an eye on.
- Speaking of the Avalanche, the Denver Post’s Mike Chambers writes that trainer Ian Mack, who is known for helping Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane last summer have a career-high 110-point season last year, is working with a number of prospects, including Colorado Avalanche forward J.T. Compher. The 24-year-old forward has yet to have that breakout season the team has been waiting for since the team acquired him in the Ryan O’Reilly trade in 2015. A second-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres back in 2013, Compher finished last year with 16 goals, but is hoping that Mack will get him to another level after he signed a four-year, $14MM extension this summer. “I worked out with him for a full month before I got on the ice,” Compher said. “Once I got back on the ice, I felt more explosive and better on my lateral movements — and even better on my edges. I can move quicker.”
- In a Q&A with new Florida Panthers defenseman Anton Stralman, The Athletic’s Joe Smith (subscription required) writes that the blueliner claims to be healthy after an injury-plagued year with the Tampa Bay Lightning last season. Stralman, who had surgery in May on both sides to correct a sports hernia injury that he tried to ignore, but was forced to sit out some time at the end of the season last year. Stralman finished the season playing just 47 games last year and only appeared in two games after March 5. He hopes he can make a difference with the Panthers defense after signing a three-year, $16.5MM deal this summer.