Ahead of the 2016 Young Stars Classic in Penticton, BC (Sept. 16-19), CalgaryFlames.com has highlighted five players from the Edmonton Oilers, Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets to keep an eye on at the tournament.
Here are five Oilers prospects to keep tabs on when the Calgary Flames face off against the their provincial rival on Saturday (8:30 PM MT, CalgaryFlames.com, Flames app).
Jesse Puljujarvi, the No. 4 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, is one of the tournament’s top headliners this year. He had 13 goals and 28 points in 50 games with Karpat last season, and dominated the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship to help Finland to gold. At the tournament, Puljujarvi had five goals and 17 assists in seven games to lead the tournament and become the highest-scoring under-18 player since Jaromir Jagr recorded 18 points in 1990. He was named the tournament’s top forward and also became the youngest player to earn tournament MVP honours. Puljujarvi also had five goals and seven points in four games to help Finland to gold at the 2016 IIHF World Under-18 Championship in April.
Though injuries slowed Tyler Benson in his draft year, it hasn’t taken away from the upside in the 18-year-old forward. Benson, who had nine goals and 28 points in 30 games with the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League in 2015-16, was drafted 32nd overall in June. His resume is extensive. Benson was a first overall pick in the WHL Bantam Draft in 2013, and has AMBHL Rookie of the Year (2012), AMBHL Most Valuable Player (2013), CSSHL Rookie of the Year and NAPHL 18U First All-Star Team (2014) honours leading into the start of his major junior career.
The trajectory in the development of Caleb Jones continues to show promise. The 19-year-old finished 11th in scoring in the Western Hockey League in 2015-16 with 45 assists and 55 points in 72 games with the Portland Winterhawks. His point totals led all rookie defencemen in scoring, while his assists paced all rookies regardless of position. Jones, the brother of Columbus Blue Jackets defenceman Seth Jones, also participated in the U.S. National Evaluation Camp over the summer.
The highly-coveted Drake Caggiula became a member of the Oilers when he signed a two-year entry-level contract in May, capping a four-year career as a national champion with the University of North Dakota. The 5-foot-10 forward had 25 goals and 51 points in 39 games as a senior at North Dakota, and was named as an NCHC second-team all-star, and MVP of the Frozen Four tournament.
Nick Ellis landed himself a contract with the Oilers in April following a standout season as a starter with Providence College. His first two years served with the school were behind Calgary Flames prospect Jon Gillies. With Gillies graduated to the pro ranks in 2015-16, Ellis posted a 1.80 GAA and .936 save percentage in 36 games.