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World Juniors

10 players who impressed at World Junior Summer Showcase

Sweden's Andersson, Dahlin among those who stood out competing to play in 2018 WJC

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

PLYMOUTH, Mich. -- The players, coaches and executives at the World Junior Summer Showcase know that summer hockey results have little bearing on how a season could unfold.

"It's summer," United States coach Bob Motzko said. "All the athletes here, you're not in midseason shape."

However, many players stood out during the eight days of games and practices at USA Hockey Arena and made strong first impressions in their goal of playing at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship, which will be held Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Buffalo.

 

[RELATED: Dahlin displays superior skating, poise at Summer Showcase | Complete World Juniors coverage]

 

Here are NHL.com's top 10 players from the World Junior Summer Showcase, in alphabetical order:

 

Lias Andersson, F, Sweden (New York Rangers)

Andersson scored three goals in five games, including two in a loss to the U.S. on Wednesday. He played a role at the 2017 WJC but has the look of someone who wants to be a leader in 2018.

"Lias was here last year and he was good but he didn't make the same impression he does now," coach Tomas Monten said. "Lias is a player that leaves everything on the ice every time. That's a big key factor for your team. We need the leadership, that kind of work ethic on the ice."

Video: Andersson reacts to being picked 7th overall

 

Rasmus Dahlin, D, Sweden (2018 draft eligible)

Dahlin, expected to be a top pick at the 2018 NHL Draft, played two games because of an illness, but he showcased his dazzling skating and puck-handling skills. He also didn't shy away from physical play and had a game-saving shot block in the third period of a tie game against USA Blue on July 29, his first game.

"For us he's a two-way defenseman," Monten said. "He's always going to be recognized for his puck movement and his skating. He made some nice plays on the blue line as well. We feel that in Rasmus we have a player that can play both ends of the ice. He's going to play our penalty kill, he's great at the man-on-man play down low. I think he could be a complete defenseman."

 

Adam Fox, D, U.S. (Calgary Flames)

He was used solely in an offensive role at the 2017 WJC but showed during camp he can also be relied on defensively and could slide into the all-situation role Charlie McAvoy (Boston Bruins) filled for the U.S. He had nine points (three goals, six assists) and was a plus-3 in five games.

"He's taking it to another level," Motzko said. "Last year he was a designated hitter on our team, coming off the bench from an offensive standpoint and making plays for us. He's at a whole other level for us right now. … He's comfortable now playing the game in any situation for 60 minutes. That's a pretty special player. We all see it from the offensive side but he can handle tough minutes too."

 

Carter Hart, G, Canada (Philadelphia Flyers)

He's looked like the same calm, smooth goaltender who helped Canada reach the 2017 WJC gold medal game. And his play since that shootout loss to the U.S. showed how easily he put it behind him.

"I don't think last year can faze him," Canada coach Dominick Ducharme said.

Video: Carter Hart joins the guys live on NHL Tonight

 

Quinton Hughes, D, U.S. (2018 draft eligible)

His dominant skating, vision and puck skills were on display every time he stepped on the ice, and he had five points (two goals, three assists) in five games.

"He's definitely a special player," Fox said. "He's a real smart player out there, really good skill. He's definitely dynamic. He has the ability to change the game on one shift."

 

Jordan Kyrou, F, Canada (St. Louis Blues)

He brought speed and energy to almost every shift. His best game was Friday, when he had two goals and an assist against Sweden. He finished camp with four goals in three games.

"He's got really good habits," Ducharme said. "He's doing little things that provokes turnovers. He's got the speed and the skills to be making the most of them."

 

Timothy Liljegren, D, Sweden (Toronto Maple Leafs)

He missed the 2017 WJC because of mononucleosis but is healthy now and making the most of his opportunity. He had four points (two goals, two assists) and a team-high 17 shots on goal in five games.

"I'm healthy, feel good," Liljegren said. "Been on the ice now for a couple weeks and it feels good. Just looking forward to next season."

Video: Steve talks with Timothy Liljegren


 
Casey Mittelstadt, F, U.S. (Buffalo Sabres)

He tied Fox for the lead among all players with nine points (three goals, six assists) in five games. Mittelstadt was dominant every game, and his line with center Logan Brown (Ottawa Senators) and right wing Kailer Yamamoto (Edmonton Oilers) was explosive.

"Everywhere I go I want to be one of the main contributors and make a lot of plays on the ice," Mittelstadt said. "That's what I think I do best."

Video: Casey Mittelstadt on Team USA's win in the WJSS

 

Brady Tkachuk, F, U.S. (2018 draft eligible)

Tkachuk was a wrecking ball in the offensive zone and had five points (one goal, four assists) in five games.

"He plays the game at an extreme high level with energy," Motzko said. "You can see as he gets stronger he's going to be a player that's not very fun to play against. He's rugged, he's going to bang around, he's got hockey sense. He's going to get better and better. He's the type of player you want to have around."

Video: Brady Tkachuk talks with Morosi about the WJSS

 

Juuso Valimaki, D, Finland (Calgary Flames)

He had one assist in five games but was second on Finland with 18 shots on goal. He played in all situations and already has been named captain for the 2018 WJC.

"He has big-time leadership qualities," Finland coach Jussi Ahokas said. "He takes charge on the ice, defends well, also can make smart plays with the puck. The big thing is on the team he is a leader and we need those kind of guys."

Video: Juuso Valimaki talks with Steve Mears

 

Honorable mention: Logan Brown, F, U.S. (Ottawa Senators); Sean Dhooghe, F, U.S. (2018 draft eligible); Kasper Kotkansalo, D, Finland (Detroit Red Wings); Matthew Phillips, F, Canada (Calgary Flames); Aarne Talvitie, F, Finland (New Jersey Devils).

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