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World Juniors

10 players who excelled at Summer Showcase, according to NHL.com

Beecher, Byram, Caufield make case for 2020 WJC roster spots

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

PLYMOUTH, Mich. -- After 11 games in eight days, the United States, Canada, Sweden and Finland left the World Junior Summer Showcase at USA Hockey Arena with the first bit of research done toward picking the teams that will play in the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship in the Czech Republic from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5.

"All in all, I think it went well," U.S. general manager John Vanbiesbrouck said. "The arena is a great host. I thought the games were good for the most part and we saw what we had to see."

There's a lot of hockey between now and when the rosters are finalized in December, but here are 10 players who made their marks (listed in alphabetical order):

 

John Beecher, F, U.S. (Boston Bruins)

The 18-year-old was a bottom-six forward with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team last season. With a chance to play in a top-six role during the WJSS, he used an outstanding mix of size (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) and impressive speed to score four goals in five games, including two in a 33-second span of a 7-1 win against Finland on July 28.

Tweet from @StarsStripesHKY: Here is Beecher's second of the game, third of the tourney. Beecher does a great job of jumping in to the play, goes backdoor and finishes. #WJSS #NHLBruins #GoBlue #NTDP pic.twitter.com/wOWcSWH01Z

"He had four goals and I think he had probably eight breakaways," Vanbiesbrouck said. "Even when he's killing penalties, he's a threat, when he's playing north/south he's a threat. ... He's in the mix for sure to make this team."

 

Bowen Byram, D, Canada (Colorado Avalanche)

The No. 4 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, Byram (6-foot, 193) showed enough skill and poise that he might have a chance to play in the NHL this season. The 18-year-old had two assists and was plus-4 in two games.

"Great skater, but the hockey sense is a big part of it," Canada coach Dale Hunter said. "He moves the puck, he works the net, he makes the right play. Power play, he's very deceptive up top. He doesn't telegraph the puck, where it's going, and for penalty killers that's hard."

Video: Byram on feeling of hearing name called by Avalanche

 

Cole Caufield, F, U.S. (Montreal Canadiens)

Caufield (5-7, 162) tied for the WJSS lead with four goals and seven points in five games, and his three goals in the final three games all were highlight-reel scores.

The 18-year-old beat Canada goalie Hunter Jones (Minnesota Wild) over his right shoulder short side from a sharp angle Tuesday and stutter-stepped Finland defenseman Ville Heinola (Winnipeg Jets) to create a shooting lane and beat goalie Jasper Patrikainen with a low-glove shot Friday. Caufield then found the tiniest bit of space over the shoulder of Canada goalie Alexis Gravel (Chicago Blackhawks) for a short-side goal Saturday.

Tweet from @StarsStripesHKY: Cole Caufield doing Cole Caufield type things. On the PP, Caufield just snipes on top shelf to put Team USA back in the lead. #WJSS #GoHabsGo #NTDP #Badgers pic.twitter.com/imIMn6XAIa

"He gets in the right spots on the rink," U.S. coach Scott Sandelin said. "He's sturdy, he's strong on his feet and he's got some grit to his game. I've been impressed how strong he is on his feet. Just the way he finds areas of the rink and knows where to go to get the puck, get opportunities. And the better part is he's not afraid to go into the hard areas."

 

Kirby Dach, F, Canada (Chicago Blackhawks)

The 18-year-old found instant chemistry on Canada's top line centering Joseph Veleno (Detroit Red Wings) and Alexis Lafreniere in two games together. Dach's best game was against the U.S. on Tuesday when he scored two goals and made a behind-the-back pass from the slot for an assist on Veleno's power-play goal.

"I think he's a complete player," Veleno said. "He plays well in both areas of the ice, he can make plays, he can score goals, he's physical, he's a big body (6-4, 197) out there. Makes a lot of nice plays. I think he's a complete centerman who's going to be a real good player in the NHL. He's going to make a big mark one day."

 

Joel Farabee, F, U.S. (Philadelphia Flyers)

Farabee (6-foot, 164) had five points (three goals, two assists) in four games, including the game-winning goal against Canada on Saturday, and the 19-year-old likely will have a major role at the 2020 WJC if he's not playing in the NHL. 

Tweet from @HeresYourReplay: Here's the beauty by @FarabeeJoel to make it 4-3 USA #WJSS pic.twitter.com/ujhGOOEZk1

"I think as far as last year to this year, I think I played the same exact way," Farabee said. "I played hard, good two ways. I think I left it all out there. I have no regrets after this week. I'm excited to hopefully get the chance to play for the USA again, but if I'm in the NHL that's probably a little better. I'm excited. It'll be good either way."

 

Ville Heinola, D, Finland (Winnipeg Jets)

Heinola (5-11, 178) had four assists in four games despite missing one game with an injured right wrist. In addition to his strong play on the ice, the 18-year-old was relied on in a leadership role after he helped Finland win gold at the 2019 WJC.

"Obviously he's a top player in the whole world," Finland assistant coach Tuomo Ruutu said. "He was already there last year, so we're really hoping that he can help us this year too."

Video: Jets draft D Ville Heinola No. 20

 

Alexander Holtz/Lucas Raymond, F, Sweden (2020 NHL Draft eligible)

Holtz (5-11, 192) and Raymond (5-11, 170), each 17, each had one assist in five games. Though neither produced much on the score sheet, Holtz led Sweden with 14 shots on goal and Raymond was second with 12, and each were noticeable and dangerous on nearly every shift. Teammate Jacob Olofsson (Montreal Canadiens), who centered their line for three games, said they were Sweden's most gifted forwards.

"We knew that they're really talented and skilled," Sweden coach Tomas Monten said. "But what helps their game is that they work really hard, they skate, they're not afraid of playing in the dirty areas. ... Raymond is more of a playmaker, Holtz is more of a shooter, a scorer. But they've been good for us. They've shown they want to be in the mix for the World Juniors."

 

Alexis Lafreniere, F, Canada (2020 NHL Draft eligible)

Lafreniere (6-1, 192) had two assists in two games, and the 17-year-old was dangerous almost every shift. His line, with Dach and Veleno, is one that could be reunited at the 2020 WJC.

"He makes incredible plays that even sometimes I don't even see, but he still manages to get the puck on my stick or get the puck on someone else's stick," Veleno said. "He's so dynamic, you never know what he's going to do. I learned to follow him around the ice and be ready, stick on the ice, and he'll find you."

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

 

Sampo Ranta, F, Finland (Colorado Avalanche)

Ranta (6-2, 190) had extra motivation after he was the final player cut from Finland's team that won the gold medal at the 2019 WJC. The 19-year-old had six points (four goals, two assists), all at even strength, in five games.

Tweet from @StarsStripesHKY: Golden Gopher Sampo Ranta puts Finland up 1-0 midway thru the opening period. Ranta chips the puck past Bode Wilde and beats Isaiah Saville with the pretty backhand. #WJSS #GoAvsGo #Gophers #Isles pic.twitter.com/MxUquR0Cu6

"I want to be here this year, make the (World Junior Championship) team, be a huge player for our team," he said.

 

Honorable mention: Samuel Fagemo, F, Sweden (Los Angeles Kings); Nolan Foote, F, Canada (Tampa Bay Lightning); Anttoni Honka, D, Finland (Carolina Hurricanes); Spencer Knight, G, U.S. (Florida Panthers); K'Andre Miller, D, U.S. (New York Rangers); Patrik Puistola, F, Finland (Carolina Hurricanes); Nicholas Robertson, F, U.S. (Toronto Maple Leafs); Joseph Veleno, F, Canada (Detroit Red Wings); Trevor Zegras, F, U.S. (Anaheim Ducks)

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