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World Juniors

Jack Hughes, Quinn Hughes could make quick jump from 2019 WJC to NHL

Wahlstrom, Poehling, Samberg also capable of rapid rise to League after playing for U.S.

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

EVERETT, Wash. -- Several players here for USA Hockey selection camp starting Saturday could be in the NHL in the not-so-distant future.

The selection camp is the first step to naming the 23-player roster for the United States at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship, which will be held Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia. For a few players it could be their final opportunity to play in the World Juniors, as they could be busy with their NHL teams by the time the 2020 WJC comes around.

Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk, Buffalo Sabres center Casey Mittelstadt and New Jersey Devils right wing Joey Anderson were part of the U.S. team that finished third at the 2018 WJC in Buffalo that are now in the NHL (Anderson is on injured reserve with a broken ankle). Tkachuk, 19, could play in the 2019 WJC had the Senators allowed it.

Here are five players taking part in select camp who could be starring in the NHL within two seasons:

Jack Hughes, C, USA U-18 (USHL): The 17-year-old center (5-foot-10, 168 pounds) leads USA Hockey's National Team Development Program under-18 team with 48 points (10 goals, 38 assists) in 25 games. Hughes can create offense every shift because of his dynamic speed, quick thinking and playmaking ability. He received an A rating on NHL Central Scouting's November Players to Watch list and is projected to be the No. 1 choice in the 2019 NHL Draft.

Quinn Hughes, D, University of Michigan (BIG 10): The 5-foot-10, 170-pound left-shot defenseman led the U.S. with six points (one goal, five assists) at the World Junior Summer Showcase in August, and had three assists in seven games for the U.S. at the 2018 WJC. Selected by the Vancouver Canucks with the No. 7 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, Hughes has 20 points (three goals, 17 assists) in 17 games. He has high-end skill and offensive ability and likely will quarterback a power play when he reaches the NHL.

Ryan Poehling, C, St. Cloud State University (NCHC): Poehling (6-2, 183) was the youngest player in college hockey when he was chosen by the Montreal Canadiens with the No. 25 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. He had three points (one goal, two assists) in seven games at the 2018 WJC, and has 17 points (three goals, 14 assists) in 16 games. He plays with an edge and mature consistency to his game that allows him to fill any role in a lineup.

Dylan Samberg, D, University of Minnesota-Duluth (NCHC): Samberg combines NHL-ready size (6-3, 190) and offensive ability. Selected by the Winnipeg Jets in the second round (No. 43) of the 2017 NHL Draft, Samberg has four points (two goals, two assists) and 23 blocked shots in 15 games. He had four points (one goal, three assists) and a U.S.-best plus-10 rating in seven games at the 2018 WJC.

Oliver Wahlstrom, RW, Boston College (H-EAST): Wahlstrom already has an NHL-caliber shot. He led the NTDP under-18 team in goals (48) and points (94) in 62 games last season, and has five points (four goals, one assist) and 45 shots on goal in 14 games at Boston College. Selected with the No. 11 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft by the New York Islanders, Wahlstrom (6-1, 205) has good hockey sense, is tough to handle 1-on-1 and knows how to hit a one-timer. He was one of the last cuts from the 2018 WJC team.

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