The 2019 World Junior Summer Showcase concluded this past weekend with six Colorado Avalanche prospects suiting up for their home countries at the camp.
With the NHL season looming around the corner, the showcase brought together some of the best under-20 players from each nation and provided fans with some action. The annual camp serves as a platform for players to display their skills and for coaches to evaluate players before the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship in December and January.
The week-long showcase ran from July 26-Aug. 3 and took place at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan. It consisted of 11 exhibition contests between Canada, Finland, Sweden and the United States.
For the Avalanche, 2019 draft picks Bowen Byram (No. 4 overall), Alex Newhook (No. 16 overall) and Luka Burzan (No. 171 overall) suited up for Team Canada, while Drew Helleson (No. 78 overall) represented the United States. Justus Annunen (No. 64 overall) and Sampo Ranta (No. 78 overall), members of Avs' 2018 draft class, also played for their home country of Finland.
Forward Sampo Ranta made his presence known throughout the showcase and finished the camp tied for second overall in scoring with six points (four goals, two assists) in five games. His point total tied Canada's Nolan Foote and was behind only fellow Finn Anttoni Honka, who recorded seven points. Ranta tallied a goal in each of Finland's first four games while recording multi-point games by adding an assist in each a 3-2 win over USA White on July 27 and in a 8-3 victory over Team Canada on July 31.
Goaltender Justus Annunen was also on display as he started in three games for Finland. Annunen picked up a 3-2 win against USA White as he stopped 36-of-38 shots in the contest and helped Finland earn an 8-3 victory versus Team Canada on July 31, making 23-of-26 saves. He also had one loss at the camp when his country fell 6-3 to Sweden on Saturday. The goaltender finished the weekend with a 3.35 goals-against average and a .881 save percentage.
For Team Canada, defenseman Bowen Byram brought his skill and poise to his country's blue line as he finished the week with two assists and a plus-4 rating in two games for his country. He posted a plus-1 rating in a 4-1 victory over the United States on July 30 and tallied two assists in a 5-2 victory over Sweden on Friday.
Fellow Canadian's Alex Newhook and Luka Burzan both got ice time during the week. Newhook competed in three games for Team Canada as he played in the victory over the United States on July 30, an 8-3 loss to Finland on July 31 and in the win versus Sweden on Friday. Luka Burzan also suited up against Finland and Sweden, recording a total of three shots on goal in the contests.
Finally, the Avs third selection at the 2019 NHL Draft, Drew Helleson, suited up in two games for USA White. Helleson put on the red, white and blue in a 3-2 loss against Finland on July 27 and a 2-1 defeat versus Sweden on July 28.
The final rosters for the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship won't be set until December, a few weeks before the World Juniors, which will take place from Dec. 26, 2019 to Jan. 5, 2020 in Ostrava and Trinec, Czech Republic.