The World Under 18 Tournament is underway in *checks notes*
Switzerland. While this tournament lacks the fanfare of the World Juniors it’s
a great opportunity to get even more excited about potential draftees using a
small sample size. While most of the top North American players are still
committed to CHL tournaments, the U-18s give us a chance to learn about those crazy
European prospects who we haven’t seen since early January.
After the jump a few U-18 numbers worth knowing about
potential 2015 draft prospects before they move onto the semi-finals (featuring
a Canada vs. USA game by the way).
Matthew Barzal is tied for the tournament lead in points with Auston “Highlight
of the Leafs 2015-16 season” Matthews. Barzal was injured for a good chunk of
the 2014-15 season, but excelled when he was in the lineup. As a result of his
injuries he’s all over the place in first round draft rankings, but a healthy
Barzal would likely be in the conversation with Strome and Marner for that
level of skill. Unfortunately this high profile showing means the Leafs won’t
be plucking him with the Predators first round pick, though that wasn’t even
really a possibility before.
A player who has been in and out of the first round rankings is Team USA
forward Jeremy Bracco, but he’s making a strong case for why he should be in
the top thirty. Bracco has picked up 9 points in the first 5 games . His 5’9
stature is likely what is alienating potential suitors, but based on what we’re
seeing from Bracco he might be a great way to add high end offence with a late
first round pick.
A goal a game pace is certainly noteworthy, and that’s why I’m noting Joel
Eriksson Ek here. The Swedish center is tied for fourth in the tournament in
scoring with 5 goals. After spending time in the Swedish Hockey League this
season this was the opportunity for Eriksson Ek to showcase that he can put up
points. Mission accomplished. Like Bracco, Eriksson Ek is in and out of the top
30 ratings depending on source and may be a nice option for the Leafs with the
That is where the tournament goal leader ranks on Craig Button’s draft
list. That’s not a shot at Craig because he’s not first round in any scouting
lists, but Denis Guryanov’s six goals in four games will likely flag him as a
good option for teams looking for offence.
When you’ve seen your stock drop all year, there’s nothing better than a
chance to prove your critics wrong. That’s what number 13 of the Czech
Republic, Pavel Zacha, has done. He had difficulty putting up offence in his
first year with the Sarnia Sting, and his 5 goals in 5 games during the U-18s
are either telling people that he’s still capable of it, or possibly has scouts
thinking that he can only do this on international sized ice.
He wears number 4 and he has four assists, so Thomas Chabot gets a
mention here. Chabot is one of the guys who has been sneaking up draft rankings
over the past few months, and being Canada’s top scoring defencemen, second
overall in the tournament, he’s going to get even more credit for his versatile
While we’re talking scoring defencemen, Jeremy Roy has three goals which
has him tied for first in the tournament with goals by a defenceman. Roy has
been be a staple of the 10-20 rankings and this is only solidifying it.
The semi-final round takes place on Saturday, The finals are Sunday. Canada and the USA will be one of the Semi-Finals, and Finland will face either Russia or Switzerland. If for no other reason, tune into watch Auston Matthews of Team USA, who is treat, and watch Tyler Benson who will a nice Plan B after the Oilers win the 1st overall pick next draft lottery.