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World Juniors

World Junior Summer Showcase Day 5 notebook

U.S. goalie Knight not focused on being NHL-ready; Dach has two goals, assist for Canada

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

PLYMOUTH, Mich. -- Spencer Knight wants to pump the brakes when it comes to people saying how the Florida Panthers goalie prospect is ready for professional hockey.

John Vanbiesbrouck, the general manager of the United States team that will play in the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship and an NHL goalie for 20 seasons, was the latest to rave about Knight.

"I think he can play (in the NHL) now," Vanbiesbrouck said Monday during the World Junior Summer Showcase at USA Hockey Arena. "As a person who played (in the NHL) as a young guy, got an opportunity, he's pretty good. ... I think maturity, very calm in goal but he's very big (6-foot-3, 192 pounds), can move. All the standard terms. He's athletic. I have great admiration for him, his abilities."

Vanbiesbrouck was 18 years old when he made his NHL debut with the New York Rangers on Dec. 5, 1981. Knight, who turned 18 on April 19, said his focus is getting ready to play for Boston College in the fall.

"I haven't even done anything yet," he said. "Everyone's saying I'm ready for the next step and I haven't even played (in) college yet."

The Panthers chose Knight in the first round (No. 13) of the 2019 NHL Draft, then agreed to terms with goalie Sergei Bobrovsky on a seven-year contract July 1.

Knight said Bobrovsky's presence doesn't change anything for him.

"I'm going to do what's right for me, that's all I'm really focused on," he said. "We talked at development camp (last month) and they told me they were going to sign a goalie. Good, they needed a goalie, they needed someone good and they had a chance to get him. I'm still young. For me to say I'm ready to make the jump, I still have a long way to get there. I'm just trying to do everything I can to perform at that level."

 

Dach off to strong start with Canada

Kirby Dach (Chicago Blackhawks) had two goals and an assist for Canada in a 4-1 win against the United States on Tuesday. It was the first game for Canada at the WJSS and Dach's first test at the under-20 level.

"I felt like I was right on top of it right from the start," said the 18-year-old forward, who was taken No. 3 by the Blackhawks in the 2019 NHL Draft. "Warmup was good for myself. I felt like I was ready to go and I was ready to play. We've all been itching to get it going. When we got the chance to play, we were all pretty excited and it was a lot of fun."

Joseph Veleno (Detroit Red Wings) gave Canada a 1-0 lead at 12:11 of the first period with a power-play goal after a behind-the-back pass from Dach, who made it 2-0 in the second period when he tapped in a Veleno pass at 10:16.

Tweet from @StevenEllisTHN: Kirby Dach makes a beautiful pass to Joe Veleno, who opens the scoring at 1-0. #WJSS pic.twitter.com/mfLwgPt7Nl

Dach made it 4-1 at 10:13 of the third with a power-play goal on the rebound of a shot by forward Alexis Lafreniere (2020 draft eligible).

Tweet from @StevenEllisTHN: Kirby Dach has his second goal of the night after some great puck movement by everyone on the ice. Alexis Lafreniere with a couple of touches. 4-1 Canada. #WJSS pic.twitter.com/2MkSCKr8C4

"He's a good guy, he's got a powerful stride," Canada coach Dale Hunter said of Dach. "He's only going to get stronger though the years. He definitely played very well."

Dach said his time at Blackhawks development camp this month, including some post-practice ice time with veteran Chicago forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, gave him an indication of what he would face at the WJSS. 

"It was weird at first," Dach said. "Those are guys you looked up to as a kid and you get to meet those guys and hang out with them, it's fun. They're tremendous players and great people off the ice, so to learn from them was awesome."

 

Heinola could play Wednesday

Finland defenseman Ville Heinola expects to play Wednesday against Canada (1 p.m. ET; NHLN) after practicing Tuesday for the first time since injuring his right wrist against the USA White split-squad team Saturday.

Heinola, selected by the Winnipeg Jets in the first round (No. 20) of the 2019 draft, said the injury occurred when he got tangled with a U.S. player and his wrist got caught between them. X-rays showed no fracture.

"It felt really good," Heinola said. "I had a little bit of a break to rest my wrist. Good to get back on the ice."

After the WJSS, Heinola will prepare for Jets training camp before it is determined where he plays this season. The NHL is the goal, but he could play for Manitoba, the Jets' American Hockey League affiliate, or return to Luukko in Liiga, the top league in Finland.

The 18-year-old had 14 points (two goals, 12 assists) for Lukko last season. 

"I'll go to camp with Winnipeg and we'll see from there," he said. 

Video: Jets draft D Ville Heinola No. 20

 

Ginning brings different dimension to Sweden

Sweden is known for producing quality offensive defensemen, but Adam Ginning (Philadelphia Flyers) brings a unique element. The 19-year-old (6-foot-3, 196 pounds) is more of a physical, stay-at-home presence. 

"When I play my best hockey I play physical, really tough hockey," said Ginning, selected by the Flyers in the second round (No. 50) in the 2018 NHL Draft. "I need to do that all the time. When those games I played a little bit not so good, those were the games I didn't stick to that plan and play my tough game. ... Just stick to my game all the time, not try anything else, just do what I do best, keep it simple and do that every game.

"I try to help the team in the defensive zone instead, leave the offensive stuff to some other guys."

Sweden coach Tomas Monten said Ginning seems more confident than he did at this time a year ago. And with active defensemen with high-end offensive skills like Philip Broberg (Edmonton Oilers), Tobias Bjornfot (Los Angeles Kings) and Victor Soderstrom (Arizona Coyotes), who isn't at the WJSS but likely will be part of the WJC team, a defensive-minded presence will be needed.

"We don't have many of those kind of defensemen," Monten said. "He's a big guy, he needs to get his feet moving, needs to move the puck quick. I think if he does that he's a real force for us."

 

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