The 2014 MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament is underway in London, Ont., and while the main focus is the chase for a national championship, it’s also a chance for players to showcase their skills on the junior game’s biggest stage ahead of the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Here are three World Juniors hopefuls from each of the four teams:
EDMONTON OIL KINGS (WHL)
Mads Eller (Denmark)
Although Eller doesn’t have the jaw-dropping numbers most prospects have, he should be a leader for the Danes in Toronto and Montreal. At 6-foot-1 and 196 pounds, Eller possesses a smooth pair of hands and plays a solid two-way game, much like his older brother – Montreal Canadiens forward Lars Eller.
Curtis Lazar (Canada)
A member of Canada’s National Junior Team in 2014, Lazar is the true definition of a leader and a power forward. He is a constant battler that leads by example and has great offensive skills to accompany his rugged style of play. Lazar has led his team in playoff scoring and finished second during the regular season.
Dysin Mayo (Canada)
Mayo’s game continues to grow as his skill and maturity develops. He is an average-bodied defenceman who skates smoothly and has tremendous passing abilities. Despite being only 17 years old, he does not shy away from the physical play, despite playing big minutes against bigger and older opponents.
GUELPH STORM (OHL)
Jason Dickinson (Canada)
Although he averaged over a point per game this season, Dickinson is known for his two-way game. He is a fierce backchecker who plays a solid positional game and does not underestimate the importance of his defensive duties. He has soft hands along that allow him to have above-average puck protection.
Robby Fabbri (Canada)
Known for his insanely quick feet, shifty nature and elusiveness, Fabbri has a tremendous wrist shot and a great vision. He loves to score goals – as evidenced by the 45 he netted this season in the OHL – and has a knack for finding open spaces in the offensive zone and getting in position to score.
Pius Suter (Switzerland)
Suter’s strength is in his skating – his first few strides are explosive, and he gets up to top speed quickly. A tremendous puck-handler, he has decent goal-scoring qualities, but is best served as a two-way playmaker. Suter isn’t afraid to play in traffic, using his skating and stickhandling to elude defencemen.
LONDON KNIGHTS (OHL)
Max Domi (Canada)
Domi is a rare breed of player: he possesses a unique combination of speed, skill and grit. He is a powerful skater who is very hard to move off the puck, loves to dangle through opponents and has tremendous hands that allow him to score goals and complete passes that sometimes look impossible to make.
Mitchell Marner (Canada)
The youngest player on the Knights’ roster and one of just a handful of born in 1997 at the tournament, Marner has tremendous skating abilities that give him great short area quickness. His high hockey IQ and astounding vision make him a tremendous playmaker, whose shot arsenal is lethal.
Nikita Zadorov (Russia)
A 6-foot-5, 228-pound colossus, Zadorov is anything but a gentle giant on the blue-line. He loves to throw his big body around, craves contact and intimidates opponents with massive open-ice hits. Zadorov has a big shot from the point and is developing into more and more of an offensive threat.
VAL-D’OR FOREURS (QMJHL)
Nicolas Aubé-Kubel (Canada)
A hard-working player who never has a shortage of energy, Aubé-Kubel is good in all three zones, going to the dirty areas to score goals in the offensive zone, while keeping pressure on the puck carrier in the defensive zone. He is a good skater who makes good, quick decisions with the puck.
Julien Gauthier (Canada)
A physically-imposing power forward at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, Gauthier is a tremendous skater for a player his size, possessing a powerful and fluid stride. Although just 16 years old, he doesn’t shy away from the physical side of the game, and can match strength with much older players.
Anthony Richard (Canada)
Simply put, Richard is fast, and he seems even faster because he’s always in motion. He sees the game tremendously well in the offensive zone, and has fantastic puck control at top speed. Richard gets rid of the puck in a big hurry, catching opponents off guard with a quick release.