While the World Junior Championships are the best place to get a good look at upcoming and recent draftees (in the U18 and U20 tournaments respectively), NHL scouts are searching far and wide much earlier than that. Today, Hockey Canada released their roster for the upcoming World U17 Hockey Challenge tournament that will be held from November 5-11 in British Columbia. At the event, Canada will ice three teams while the United States, Russia, Czech Republic, Finland and Sweden will each also be represented.
Canada’s roster is made up almost entirely of players recently drafted and playing in the CHL, though there are a few from other leagues like the USHL or BCHL—often to maintain college eligibility. There are several notable last names that will stand out to hockey fans, as players like Tag Bertuzzi (son of former NHLer Todd Bertuzzi) and Ryan Suzuki (brother of Vegas’ prospect Nick Suzuki) will play big roles on the squad.
Suzuki and Bertuzzi were selected first and second overall in the most recent OHL bantam draft, to Barrie and Guelph respectively, and each have huge upside as offensive players. Obviously, there is so much hockey left to play before any of these 2001 birthdays are eligible for NHL draft selection—even the oldest among them can’t be taken until the 2019 draft—but don’t doubt the impact tournaments like this have on early scouting reports.
One player to watch out for is Alexis Lafreniere, an early favorite to go first overall in the 2020 draft. Lafreniere turned 16 just last week, but has already put up 11 points in nine games for the Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL. Amazingly, he leads the team in scoring despite playing against players that are sometimes almost five years older than him. His talent is obvious to anyone that watches, and he’s already 6’0″ and still growing. Over the next few years, you’re sure to hear the name a few more times.
Here is a link to the full 66-man roster that will make up the three Canadian teams.