The Hlinka Gretzky Cup is often a short and sweet tournament, and this year’s was no exception. In this season’s first major showcase for the 2024 NHL Draft Class, Canada’s U18 contingent won their second straight gold medal by defeating Czechia in overtime yesterday thanks to a rather brilliant effort from forward Malcolm Spence of the OHL’s Erie Otters, who’s still just 16 years old and won’t be NHL draft-eligible until 2025.
While Canadian forward and presumptive 2024 first-overall pick Macklin Celebrini wasn’t with the team at this event, perhaps their second-best draft-eligible talent next season was – forward Berkly Catton of the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs. Projected by some to be a top-five selection, he didn’t disappoint, leading the Canadian contingent with ten points in five games at the tournament. Another likely top-ten pick, defenseman Henry Mews, did quite well, leading Canadian defensemen in scoring with seven points. For the silver medal-winning Czechs, 2025-eligible center Adam Benák was undoubtedly the star of the show, recording two goals and eight assists for ten points in all five games. Potential 2024 first-round selection Adam Titlbach, who’s set to join the WHL’s Vancouver Giants this season, led the team in goal-scoring with five goals and three assists for eight points. The United States took home the bronze medal at the tournament led by 2024-eligible forward Trevor Connelly, who notched five goals and five assists for ten points.
Other notes from around the hockey world to kick off this Sunday in August:
- After settling their final arbitration cases with Drew O’Connor and Troy Terry, the second buyout window this offseason for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Anaheim Ducks closes today, respectively. While the Ducks are extremely unlikely to utilize a buyout at this point in the offseason, Pittsburgh will be a team to watch today. As covered at length this week, the team’s salary cap situation is being kept a close eye on by almost everyone as the team closes in on trying to acquire defenseman Erik Karlsson from the San Jose Sharks. Their most likely buyout candidate is 2023 trade deadline acquisition Mikael Granlund, who’s locked in for this season and next at a $5MM cap hit and had just five points in 21 games with Pittsburgh after arriving from the Nashville Predators. Per CapFriendly, a Granlund buyout would provide the Penguins with over $4.1MM in savings this season.
- The QMJHL’s Shawinigan Cataractes acquired New York Rangers forward prospect Maxim Barbashev from the Moncton Wildcats via trade earlier this month, according to the league. The Rangers selected the Moscow-born left wing in the fifth round of the 2022 Draft, and he went on to have a rather strong campaign in 2022-23 with 32 goals, 33 assists and 65 points in 67 games with Moncton. All those numbers were career highs. He joins Los Angeles Kings defense prospect Angus Booth as the second NHL-drafted prospect on the Cataractes in 2023-24.