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Avs Prospects at 2019 World Junior Summer Showcase

Six players look to represent their countries at the under-20 tournament

by Niki Ardebili /

The summer of hockey camps continues for a few Colorado Avalanche prospects. 

In addition to attending the Avs' summer development camp at the end of June, several 2018 and 2019 Avalanche draft picks will take part in another camp--the 2019 World Junior Summer Showcase.

The week long camp will take place at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan, from July 26-Aug. 3 and will consist of 11 contests between Canada, Finland, Sweden and the United States. Some of the best under-20 players from each nation have been invited to participate and show off their skills, as they look to earn a spot and represent their respective countries at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship in December and January. 

From the Avalanche's prospect roster, 2019 draft picks Bowen Byram (fourth overall), Alex Newhook (16th overall) and Luka Burzan (171st overall) were all selected to be a part of Team Canada's roster, while Drew Helleson (47th overall) will play with Team USA. Justus Annunen (64th overall) and Sampo Ranta (78th overall), members of Avs' 2018 draft class, will be practicing with their home country of Finland.

Games on the final three days of the camp will be televised on NHL Network.

Colorado's first pick from the 2019 draft at No. 4 overall, defenseman Bowen Byram spent the 2018-19 season with the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League, where he recorded 71 points (26 goals, 45 assists) in 67 regular-season games.

The Cranbrook, British Columbia, native led all WHL defensemen in goals and ranked third in points, earning WHL first all-star team honors. Byram, 18, has accumulated 98 points (32 goals, 66 assists) in 138 career WHL contests, all with Vancouver, and has totaled 33 points (11 goals, 22 assists) in 29 playoff outings. 

Internationally, the 6-foot, 193-pound blueliner represented his country at the 2018 IIHF U18 World Championship in Russia, recording one assist in five contests. Additionally, Byram tallied four points (one goal, three assists) in five games to help Canada capture the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup (one goal, three assists) and suited up for Canada Red at the 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, registering five points (one goal, four assists) in six outings. 

Fellow Canadian Alex Newhook, who was the Avalanche's second pick at the 2019 NHL Draft at No. 16 overall, spent the last two seasons with the Victoria Grizzlies of the British Columbia Hockey League. With the Grizzlies, the left-handed center produced 168 points (60 goals, 108 assists) in 98 career regular-season games and 33 points (14 goals, 19 assists) in 27 total postseason contests. 

The 5-foot-11, 195-pound native of St. John's, Newfoundland, served as team captain in 2018-19 and led the league with 102 points (38 goals, 64 assists). The 18-year-old also paced the league in assists and ranked third in goals to earn the Vern Dye Memorial Trophy as the league's most valuable player. Newhook added a league-leading 24 points in 15 postseason games and ranked second in goals (11) and tied for fourth in assists (13) in the BCHL Playoffs. 

Newhook represented Canada at the 2019 IIHF U18 World Championship in Sweden, registering 10 points (five goals, five assists) in seven tournament contests to tie for the team lead in points. He suited up for Canada Black at the 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, finishing with four points (one goal, three assists) in five outings. Additionally, Newhook was a part of the Canada West squad at the 2018 World Junior-A Challenge where he tallied four assists over six games.  

The last Avalanche prospect that will be representing Team Canada is 2019 draft pick Luka Burzan, who was selected at 171st overall in Round 6. From Surrey, British Columbia, Burzan has spent the last three seasons in the Western Hockey League with the Brandon Wheat Kings and Moose Jaw Warriors. 

Over the past two seasons (2017-2019), the 6-foot-1, 190-pound right wing has produced 99 points (49 goals, 50 assists) in 98 games with Brandon. Burzan joined the team after being traded from Moose Jaw during the 2017-18 campaign.  

In total, the 19-year-old has played in 207 WHL regular season contests and has recorded 145 points (69 goals, 76 assists) between the two organizations.

Internationally, Burzan won a gold medal with Canada at the 2017 Hlinka Memorial Tournament (no points), a silver medal at the 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge (two goals) and a silver medal at the 2015-16 Youth Olympic Games (four goals, three assists). 

Colorado's third selection at the 2019 NHL Draft, Drew Helleson will feel at home practicing with several of his former teammates at their old facility as the camp is set to take place at the U.S. National Team Development Program. The defenseman spent the past two seasons with the NTDP, and he recorded 23 points (five goals, 18 assists) in 64 total games in 2018-19.

Prior to joining the NTDP, the 18-year-old spent two seasons (2015-2017) with Shattuck St. Mary's Preparatory School in Faribault, Minnesota, where he compiled 71 points (12 goals, 59 assists) over 98 contests.

Helleson won a gold medal with the U.S. at the 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and was a part of the bronze medal-winning team at the 2019 IIHF U18 World Championship. The 6-foot-3, 194-pound blueliner had three assists in seven games at the under-18 tournament.

One of two Avalanche 2018 draft picks that will be representing Team Finland is Justus Annunen. The goaltender is native to Kempele, Finland, and has spent the last three seasons training with the Karpat organization. With Karpat, Annunen has played in a total of 58 games between the under-20 junior and professional teams.

This past season, the 6-foot-4, 207-pound 19-year-old also played for Hermes, where he appeared in 22 games and registered 2.77 goals-against average and .891 save percentage. In the 2017-18 season, Annunen was named the Finnish junior league's best goalie and a first-team all-star while playing for Karpat's under-20 squad.

Internationally, Annunen was a part of Finland's gold medal-winning team at the 2018 IIHF U18 World Championship where he had a 2.00 goals-against average and .914 save percentage over six games. He also suited up at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in 2017, playing in three games until Finland lost to the United States in overtime during the fifth round. He also played at the 2015-16 Youth Olympic Games and 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.

Annunen's fellow teammate and 2018 Avalanche draft pick, Sampo Ranta, will be in attendance at the Finnish camp as well.

The 6-foot-2, 190 pound left wing spent last season playing for the University of Minnesota, where he tallied 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in 36 games and will return for his sophomore season next year.

Ranta, 19, is from Naantali, Finland, but spent two seasons (2016-2018) in the United States with the Sioux City Musketeers before going to college. With the Musketeers during the 2017-18 season, Ranta recorded 37 points (23 goals, 14 assists) in 53 USHL contests.

Ranta also won a gold medal with Finland at the 2018 IIHF U18 World Championship and suited up for his country at the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.

Each international squad will train in the United States and participate in several exhibition games during the under-20 showcase. The annual summer camp is a precursor to the teams' training camp in December where the final rosters for the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship will be decided.

This year's World Juniors will be held in the Ostrava and Trinec, Czech Republic, from Dec. 26, 2019 to Jan. 5, 2020.

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