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World Juniors

United States defenseman Hughes sees stock rise for 2018 NHL Draft

Prospect scores game-winner against Sweden at World Junior Summer Showcase

by Adam Kimelman and Mike G. Morreale / NHL.com Staff Writers

PLYMOUTH, Mich. -- United States defenseman Quinton Hughes continued to show why he's a top prospect for the 2018 NHL Draft.

Hughes' second-period power-play goal held up as the game winner in a 3-2 victory against Sweden at a World Junior Summer Showcase game at USA Hockey Arena on Wednesday.

His hard shot from above the circles went through traffic and past goalie Filip Larsson (Detroit Red Wings).

The goal was the second in four games for Hughes, 17. Despite being one of the younger players for the U.S., he's had little problem keeping up with the pace. His effortless skating and poise with the puck has been obvious, and he's also played well defensively.

"Definitely the first couple shifts the first game you have to get into it," Hughes said. "By now everyone is pretty much caught up. I feel like I've played really good competition [last season] so it feels kind of the same thing."

 

[RELATED: World Junior Summer Showcase schedule]

 

Hughes said his goal for the Summer Showcase was to show the USA Hockey staff the full range of his abilities and make a strong first impression in his quest to play for the U.S. in the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship in Buffalo in December.

With the U.S. looking to replace No. 1 defenseman Charlie McAvoy (Boston Bruins), Hughes could be in line to absorb some of his ice time.

"Offensively absolutely," U.S. coach Bob Motzko said. "Right now we don't have any concerns. The snapshot we have from this week, we're very excited."

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

Forwards Riley Tufte (Dallas Stars) and Kailer Yamamoto (Edmonton Oilers) scored for the U.S. Keith Petruzzelli (Red Wings) started and made 15 saves on 16 shots in 30:11. Dylan St. Cyr (2018 NHL Draft eligible) relieved him and made 21 saves on 22 shots in 29:47.

Forward Lias Andersson (New York Rangers) scored two goals for Sweden. Larsson made 19 saves.

Here are four other things we learned Wednesday:

 

Illness sidelines Rasmus Dahlin

Sweden defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, a projected top-five pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, was out against the U.S. because of an illness.

Dahlin, defenseman Erik Brannstrom (Vegas Golden Knights) and forwards Jesper Bratt (New Jersey Devils) and Isac Lundestrom (2018 NHL Draft eligible) also were out ill.

"Bratt and Lundestrom got sick [Tuesday] so they are feeling a little bit better and are probably more hopeful for our next game on Friday [against Canada, 1 p.m. ET, NHLN]," Sweden coach Tomas Monten said. "Dahlin and Brannstrom got sick [Wednesday] so they are a question mark for Friday. If they can't go Friday, maybe they'll play Saturday if everything goes well."

Monten also said forward Linus Lindstrom (Calgary Flames) is out because of an undisclosed injury.

"He has bumps and bruises from the first two games so we had to hold him off, but we'll see [Thursday] at practice where he stands," Monten said.

 

Joseph Anderson a role model for released U.S. players

At last year's Summer Showcase, U.S. forward Joseph Anderson (Devils) was among those cut. He ended up playing on the top line and helping them win the gold medal at the 2017 WJC.

That was the message Jim Johannson, general manager of the United States National Junior Team, gave to the 10 players that were cut Wednesday. Just because they were released, they can still earn a roster spot for the 2018 WJC.

"In making these cuts, part of it was what we wanted to see from other players the rest of this camp," he said. "I think some guys really enhanced and played well enough for us to say, 'We have to see more of them this week.' There are some guys that went home who actually performed pretty well at this camp, but part of it is we know them and we know where they're going. There are also a couple guys who disappointed a bit and have these next four days to pick it up, and that message has been sent pretty loud and clear both individually and as a group."

 

Matthew Phillips thankful for visor

The crack of the puck off the visor of Canada forward Matthew Phillips echoed around USA Hockey Arena, but the Flames prospect was able to skate away after being hit by a dump-in attempt by Finland defenseman and fellow Flames prospect Juuso Valimaki.

"Went visor and then got a piece of my cheek," Phillips said. "But it hit visor first. I got pretty lucky. It's something that happens. I know Juuso well. It was an accident. ... He was standing there and he was checking [on me]."

Phillips recovered and scored two of Canada's three goals in 2:29 late in the third period that turned a 4-2 deficit into a 5-4 lead. Canada won 6-5 in overtime on a goal by Michael McLeod (Devils).

The second goal saw Phillips take the puck behind the Finland net, fake like he was going all the way around, then cut back and stuff it between goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (Buffalo Sabres) and the post.

"Things like that are instinct," Phillips said. "The goalie had pretty much every angle covered on my shot so I just tried to wait him out. Those things come with playing in the garage and being creative. Just an instinct-type thing."

Coach Dominique Ducharme said Phillips has been one of his team's better players at the Summer Showcase.

"He's involved," Ducharme said. "He's not the biggest guy but he gets in there and he's in the action for sure. … There's a reason why he's scored so many goals [50 in 70 games with Victoria of the Western Hockey League]. And I think the more he goes, you see him a little bit more comfortable from one time to another. We like what we're seeing right now."

Canada defenseman Samuel Girard (Nashville Predators) had a goal and an assist, and Taylor Raddysh (Tampa Bay Lightning) and Cliff Pu (Sabres) scored. Stuart Skinner (Oilers) started and allowed four goals on 11 shots in 29:23. Dylan Wells (Oilers) made 22 saves on 23 shots in 33:01.

Forward Janne Kuokkanen (Carolina Hurricanes) had a goal and an assist for Finland, and Jere Innala (2018 NHL Draft eligible), Jerry Turkulainen (2018 NHL Draft eligible), Robin Salo (New York Islanders) and Otto Koivula (Islanders) scored. Luukkonen allowed six goals on 23 shots.

 

William Bitten different kind of second-generation athlete

A number of players at the Summer Showcase are the sons of former athletes.

Canada forward William Bitten's parents were Olympians -- in badminton.

His father, Mike Bitten, played men's doubles for Canada at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and his mother, Doris Piche, played for Canada in 1992 and at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Both are badminton coaches.

Bitten said he played the sport for a number of years but eventually picked hockey.

"They let me choose," he said. "They are really happy with my decision and I'm really happy with it."

The decision appears to be the right one. Bitten, 19, was chosen by the Montreal Canadiens in the third round (No. 70) of the 2016 NHL Draft and had 57 points (23 goals, 34 assists) in 65 games with Hamilton of the Ontario Hockey League last season.

"My dad loves it," Bitten said. "When I'm home we always talk about hockey. My mom's really competitive and she loves it too."

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