With the 2016 MasterCard Memorial Cup underway in Red Deer, Alta., a few notable prospects look to use the attention they’ll receive to make a name for
themselves – or maybe just pad their portfolios – in hopes of playing in the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship in Montreal and Toronto.
Here are a few World Juniors hopefuls from each of the four teams competing at the Memorial Cup:
BRANDON WHEAT KINGS (WHL)
Kale Clague (Canada)
Clague is a steady two-way defenceman with offensive flair. After winning a gold medal with Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team at the 2015 U18
Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup, Clague started the season by earning an A from NHL Central Scouting as a 2016 Player to Watch. He’s a smooth skater who makes a
strong first pass, and has been lauded for his responsible play and rocket from the point.
Nolan Patrick (Canada)
Still 17 and a year away from being drafted, Patrick has been compared to fellow Manitoban – and two-time World Juniors gold medallist – Jonathan Toews: no
flash, just results. The centre, named MVP of the Western Hockey League playoffs, possesses skill and smarts, as well as the knack for knowing exactly
where he needs to be to swing a play, a period or even a game in his team’s favour.
Ivan Provorov (Russia)
An offensive defenceman, Provorov is known for his calmness and competitiveness, pinpoint passes and poise under pressure. He’s trusted on the ice in all
situations and has the ability to create offence anytime he jumps over the boards. A first-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers in 2015, Provorov
contributed eight assists in Russia’s silver-medal-winning effort at the 2016 World Juniors.
LONDON KNIGHTS (OHL)
Mitchell Marner (Canada)
Fun to watch, Marner seems to make at least one highlight-of-the-night play every game. Gifted with great hands, the Ontario Hockey League’s most
outstanding player – regular season and playoffs – shows creativity in spades, whether going to the net himself or setting up his teammates. Marner already
has one World Juniors appearance to his name, as do linemates Christian Dvorak and Matthew Tkachuk.
Victor Mete (Canada)
Often matched up against the other team’s top line, Mete isn’t the biggest presence physically on the blue line, but he uses superior positioning and stick
work to keep opposing players to the outside. He’s an elite and effortless skater who’s confident in the decisions he makes, shift in and shift out. Mete
won a gold medal with Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team at the 2015 U18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup.
Olli Juolevi (Finland)
Juolevi won a gold medal with Finland at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship, where he had nine assists and was named to the media all-star team. He’s
an intelligent player – he knows just when to pinch in and when it’s best to play back. A solid two-way defenceman, Juolevi effectively takes away passing
lanes while showing a knack for finding his own teammates through traffic.
RED DEER REBELS (HOST)
Brandon Hagel (Canada)
Hagel was a late addition to the Rebels roster but the 17-year-old sure hasn’t disappointed since his arrival. Only 165 pounds, Hagel plays a much more
physical game than some would believe and isn’t shy about sticking up for teammates when necessary. A high-energy player who has put up nearly 50 points in
his rookie WHL campaign, Hagel is a versatile player who can play in all situations.
Josh Mahura (Canada)
Mahura may be one of the most underrated prospects entering the Memorial Cup for one simple reason: he missed all but the first two season games after
tearing his MCL. But his return in the playoffs showed the Rebels exactly what they had missed all year: a two-way defenceman who can log big minutes, who
makes a crisp first pass and who can be relied upon in all situations because of his low turnover totals.
Michael Spacek (Czech Republic)
Playing in the last two World Juniors and through a first full season in North America, Spacek has shown why the Winnipeg Jets think they got a steal in
the 2015 NHL Entry Draft by selecting him in the fourth round, 108th overall. Spacek’s a mid-sized forward who’s hard to knock off the puck. His strong
vision allows him to see plays before they develop and his sound positioning leads to prime scoring chances.
ROUYN-NORANDA HUSKIES (QMJHL)
Beaudin may not be the flashiest player on the ice, but his hockey smarts and hard slap shot are undeniable, and allow him to play the point on the power
play. His work ethic makes him a well-respected two-way player who excels in all three zones. Beaudin is a speedy centre who never gives up on the
back-check and is a constant threat on the penalty kill.
Jérémy Lauzon (Canada)
A staple on the Huskies blue-line with more than a point-per-game average during the season, Lauzon is a key piece of the power play and brings a physical
presence that keeps his opponents on edge. One of the last defencemen to be cut from Canada’s National Junior Team last winter, the smooth-skating veteran
is making his anticipated return at the Memorial Cup after missing half of the playoffs due to a neck laceration.
Martins Dzierkals (Latvia)
Selected by Toronto in the third round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft (68th overall) before playing his first North American season in Quebec, no player seems
as ready to have an impact at the 2017 World Juniors than Dzierkals. Known for his blazing speed and above-average skill set, the Latvian racked up 67
points in 59 regular season games and added another 17 points in 20 playoff games as a QMJHL rookie.