If you follow prospects on a weekly basis, you’re obviously a big fan of the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge, the first major international event of the year. The tournament, which is set to place in always been a great showcase of young talent, with the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Connor McDavid, Patrick Kane, John Tavares and Carey Price all suiting up in the event prior to becoming NHL stars.
The tournament, which is set to take place from November 1st-7th in Dawson Creek and Fort St. John, B.C., was won by the Russians in a 2-1 surprise victory over the United States a year ago. This year, the eight-team tournament returns with the Americans expected to do fairly well, while Canada will once again roll with three teams to help showcase their national talent.
To help get you ready for the fun tournament, let’s take a look at five potential 2018 NHL Draft stars to watch at the 2015 Under-17 World Championships.
5. David Levin, F (Canada): If you haven’t heard of David Levin before, you’ll definitely hear a lot about him in the future. Born in Israel, Levin moved to Toronto at the age of 12 to start his ice hockey career following years and years of playing over in Israel. Fast forward to April 2015, where the unlikely star found himself drafted first overall in the OHL Priority Selection, a huge statement to his drive and determination to become a star in the league. Levin shined with the AAA minor midget Don Mills Flyers last year, and so far things are looking rather solid for him with the weak Sudbury Wolves team this year. Levin has the credentials to allow him to play for Team Canada, so be prepared to see him participating in vital roles for the rest of his career.
4. Isac Lundeström, F (Sweden): Lundeström is quite the hockey talent. In fact, he’s been teetering on being a point-per-game in the Swedish Under-20 league despite being just 15 (he’ll be 16 by the end of the tournament). Potentially the best Swedish prospect in his age group, Lundeström found himself to be a lethal playmaker in every division he suited up for last season as a 14-year-old. This year alone, Lundeström had seven points in a three-game exhibition tournament against Russia, proving himself to be a worthy point producer on the international stage. Lundeström can truly be a leader for the Tre Kronor at the U17’s, and will likely be a big contributor at the U20 World Juniors in the future.
3. David Farrance, D (USA): From a Canadian perspective, you can look at Farrance being a sixth-rounder in the most recent OHL Draft as somewhat of a “who cares about this guy?” type situation. Well, Farrance, like many US National Team Develpment Program players, was so set on making the USNTDP that he made it clear he had no OHL interest. Had he decided to flip flop his choice, there is a good chance Farrance could have been a potential top ten pick instead of a late choice by the Guelph Storm. During his freshman year with Victor High two seasons ago, the offensive stalwart scored 33 goals and and 46 points…while playing on the blue line. Yeah, he knows what to do with the puck. An incredible option on both the power-play and the penalty-kill, Ferrance could end up leading the Americans in scoring at the tournament, something that would be spectacular considering he’s actually just a defenseman.
2. Filip Zadina, F (Czech Republic): There’s a really good chance Filip Zadina could be the next big Czech superstar in the NHL. Think about this: he has over a point-per-game against older competition in the U20 Czech league, something that would be almost unheard of in any other league at the same level. Zadina was also a star for the U16 Czech national junior team last year, posting 18 points in 18 games despite being an underaged forward. With Zadina being a scoring machine for the HC Pardubice organization for many years, it’s only a matter of time until we see the 2018 NHL Draft-eligible forward taking the Czech men’s league by storm. But for now, this tournament will be his first real chance to prove himself against the world’s best prospects born in 1999 or 2000.
1. Joseph Veleno, F (Canada): With Canada’s U17 bringing mainly players who were born in 1999, it’s interesting to note that they did, in fact, bring an underager in Saint John Seadogs star Joseph Veleno. The first ever player to earn exceptional status into the QMJHL, the first overall pick from the most recent draft finished 12th in Quebec midget AAA scoring last season with 52 points in 41 games for the Lac-St-Louis Lions. While that may not wow anybody, it’s interesting to note that he had been playing against competition as much as three years older, something that could really benefit a player down the road. He probably won’t be counted on too much early on in the tournament, but with Canada bringing in three teams and spreading out their talent, it’ll be interesting to follow how well he does actually play in his first international tournament for Canada.
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