By: Bryan Thiel
Hockey Canada made a series of announcements on Monday, naming the players who will attend the National Teams’ Summer Showcase.
Overall, 45 Ontario Hockey League prospects were named to the National Under-17 Development Camp, 21 were announced as part of the Men’s Summer U-18 Selection Camp, and 13 will have the opportunity to state their case for a spot on the World Junior team at the National Junior Team Summer Development Camp. Ultimately, 79 OHL’ers made the cut.
While there are some names to pay attention to when it comes to the U-18 camp (Michael DiPietro of Windsor should make a strong case to start while Nick Suzuki’s 38 points would lead this team) and the U-17 Camp (The first five Ontario-born players selected in the most recent OHL Priority Selection all made the cut among many others), the roster for the NJT Summer Development Camp is typically where most of the attention will fall.
Here are the 13 OHL’ers that will attend camp in late July in Toronto.
Anthony Cirelli, Oshawa Generals (GP: 62 / G: 21 / A: 38 / FO%: 54.2%)
The Skinny: Cirelli nearly doubled his point production from his rookie season (36 points in 68 games in 2014/15), and led the Generals in scoring. He also finished the playoffs with five points in five games.
Lawson Crouse, Kingston Frontenacs (GP: 49 / G: 23 / A:39 / PTS/G: 1.27)
The Skinny: The 11th overall pick in 2015 may have a shot at cracking the Florida Panthers’ roster, so his inclusion on Team Canada could come down to a phone call. If he were to go to the World Juniors, it would be the rare third time for Crouse, who has eight points (three goals) in 12 games at the World Jr. Championship.
Graham Knott, Niagara IceDogs (GP: 68 / G: 12 / A: 30)
The Skinny: While Knott’s goal totals fell (He scored 25 in 2014/15), he set a career-high in assists with 30 this year. Knott also has experience on the international stage at lower levels: he won a gold medal at the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup and a bronze at the 2015 U-18 World Hockey Championships.
Travis Konecny, Sarnia Sting (GP: 60 / G: 30 A: 71 / PTS: 101)
The Skinny: While Konecny’s playoffs were cut short because of a shoulder injury, it should do little to dampen what was an outstanding season overall (especially following his move to Sarnia at the deadline). A would-be returning player (two points in five games at the most-recent WJC), Konecny’s status for the tournament will likely depend on whether or not he can earn a spot with the Philadelphia Flyers this year.
Mitch Marner, London Knights (GP: 57 / G: 39 / A: 77 / PTS/G : 2.04)
The Skinny: His stats from the playoffs read like a video game, and yet the player who dominated the OHL playoffs and Mastercard Memorial Cup still elicits the question of whether or not he’s NHL-ready. If he proves to the Toronto Maple Leafs that he is, it will be an interesting decision for the team; one that they also made this year when they allowed top-prospect William Nylander to compete at the World Juniors.
Michael McLeod, Mississauga Steelheads (GP: 57 / G: 21 / A: 40 / FO%: 58%)
The Skinny: A top-rated prospect for the 2016 NHL Draft who will probably go somewhere in the middle of the first round, McLeod has the tools to be a dangerous player internationally. It’s those tools that earned him a look (along with teammate Nathan Bastian) in Owen Sound at the Canada/Russia Super Series this past season, and a strong showing at camp will go a long way for him. His brother, Ryan, earned an invite to the U-18 camp as well.
Zachary Senyshyn, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (GP: 66 / G: 45 / A: 20 / Shots: 263)
The Skinny: Senyshyn likes to shoot the puck. The Boston Bruins’ first rounder upped his goal total from 26 in 2014/15 to 45 this season, while firing 263 shots on goal (good for fifth in the league). It would be Senyshyn’s first time representing Canada internationally.
Mitchell Stephens, Saginaw Spirit (GP: 39 / G: 20 / A: 18 / FO%: 53.7%)
The Skinny: Stephens would be another returning player for this team, after coming away with two points in five games during the most-recent World Juniors. Stephens is another player with gold medal experience at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup and a bronze medal at the U-18s.
Dylan Strome, Erie Otters (GP: 56 / G: 37 / A: 74 / FO%: 62.5%)
The Skinny: Strome and Marner were pitted against each other heading into the 2015 NHL Draft, and they could be going head-to-head once again. Not for a spot on Team Canada, but (potentially) to see whose NHL team gets called first, asking them to loan a high-end talent to the National Program, as Strome could be headed to Arizona in the fall. The youngest Strome, Matthew, continued the family tradition of getting a National Team invite, as it was announced on Monday that he’ll be attending U-18 camp.
Jakob Chychrun, Sarnia Sting (GP: 62 / G: 11 / A: 38 / PPG: 8)
The Skinny: While Chychrun has fallen off a little bit in the lead-up to the 2016 NHL Draft, some team is going to end up very happy with the man-sized defender. Chychrun was invited to Team Canada’s December camp last year, but was ultimately cut from the team…a move that definitely shook him. Regardless of what happens at the draft, you can guarantee that every time he dons the Canadian flag in practice or exhibition, Chychrun will do so with the goal of making last year a distant memory.
Matthew Spencer, Peterborough Petes (GP: 60 / G: 5 / A: 19 / +/-: -4)
The Skinny: Spencer is another member of the Ivan Hlinka Gold/U-18 Bronze club, and is a second round pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning. A former third-overall pick in the OHL Priority Selection, Spencer has gradually improved over his three years in the OHL, and has a chance to earn a little extra attention from the National Program.
Mitchell Vande Sompel, Oshawa Generals (GP: 46 / G: 10 / A: 28 / PPG: 6)
The Skinny: Vande Sompel finished the season strong with four 2-point games over his last six games, and wound up two power-play goals shy of the lead among defencemen. A staple of the 2015 OHL/Memorial Cup Champion Oshawa Generals, Vande Sompel has built a strong resume across junior hockey and will want to top it off with a spot on the Canadian Junior team.
Evan Cormier, Saginaw Spirit (21-27-1 / 3.72 GAA / 0.890 SV%)
The Skinny: Before the season, Cormier had played in a grand total of 33 games. In 2015/16, he played in 58 games and helped the Saginaw Spirit sneak into the playoffs, but then succumbed to the high-powered Erie Otters. The camp will help make a strong impression with the coaching staff, but he’ll need to combine that with a good start to the upcoming season as well.
Bryan Thiel is a freelance broadcaster who has covered the OHL from rink-side and the broadcast booth. He has also helped produce OHL features for the past four seasons. You can follow him on Twitter @BryanThiel_88.