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Observations and standouts from the World Junior Summer Showcase

World Junior Summer Showcase
Team USA vs Team Canada
Kyle McIlmurray

There were plenty of standout players in the Summer Showcase tournament, a handful of them being 2018 Draft eligible. I didn’t get a fair look at many of the Red Wings’ prospects in the tournament — Cholowski and Rasmussen didn’t play in the final game against Team USA. I have to believe that there is still concern for Rasmussen’s wrist, and Cholowski, while he impressed when I saw him Tuesday, he got surpassed by some bigger names... That or they know what they have in him and wanted to see more from others.

I’m going to dive into some observations I made throughout Saturday’s games from both Red Wings prospects, and 2018 Draft eligibles.

Kasper Kotkansalo
It’s hard to find much wrong with his game. He keeps it simple, not flashy, and you rarely see him making a “risky” play. If he has anything to work on, it would have to be his lateral movement. He has big, smooth strides which enable him to get up the ice quickly, but when it comes to closing the gap, he can get caught up. Despite that, he has a huge wingspan, which does help him with gap control. He didn’t make many high-danger plays — again, he’s a simple player. His bread and butter seems to be launching pucks at the net to create rebounds. He registered four shots on goal, but did have a pretty bad moment where he bit a little too hard and left a Sweden shooter wide open for an easy goal:

He looks to be a stay-at-home type of guy, but he’s still young. He’s decent with breaking up plays with his stick -- he did it a handful of times against Sweden. He’ll move to Boston University next year, and what sort of role he’ll play there remains to be seen.

Filip Larsson
Larsson had an interesting game. He started solid, showing lots of confidence, but as the game went on he seemed to become less aggressive. He has a habit of staying too far into his crease, which can hurt him when he’s facing sharp-shooters who can pick their shot well. It was a win for Larsson, but allowing five goals on 31 shots is far from a success, and he’ll be the first to tell you that. He’s no adept to the North American ice, so that could have something to do with how he’s tracking the puck. He’ll have plenty of time to acclimate in the USHL. At the end of the day, he’s a project goalie with high upside. He just needs to get more aggressive.

Givani Smith
Hard to complain with the way Smith plays. His skating has improved, he’s bigger, stronger, and seems to be more comfortable in high-leverage situations. He spent a lot of time playing top minutes with Team Canada, which is reassuring. There’s no doubt they like what he brings — which is a pure power-winger role. I’d say he may be a lock to play for his country in Buffalo at the WJC.

Rasmus Dahlin - 2018 Draft eligible
It’s hard for him to be as flashy with a much smaller workplace (North American ice), but Dahlin’s skill is every bit as advertised. Seems like every single one of his passes connected tape-to-tape. He’s especially good at threading the puck through the forecheck. His skating ability gives him a distinct advantage over his opponents. I’d say he was one of the better-skating defensemen in the entire showcase, next to Cale Makar. Another thing about Dahlin that really goes unsung is his size. He’s huge, and he knows how to use it quite well. There are a lot of connections to his style of play and Erik Karlsson’s, but I think if he develops the way I believe he will, we’ve got another Victor Hedman, but add in a dash of electrifying highlight-reel offensive skill. Hard to see him not going at 1st overall.

Quinton Hughes - 2018 Draft eligible
This Florida hockey product was one of the kids I couldn’t keep my eyes off when he was on the ice. He’s a fast, smart defenseman who specializes in a high-tempo puck-moving role. He has a smallish frame coming in under 6’0” and 170 lbs, but he’s got a lot of upside. He’s committed to the University of Michigan for this upcoming season, which is huge for the Wolverines. I see him as a no-doubt first-rounder in the 2018 NHL Draft. The Red Wings would be wise to keep an eye on them since a drafting a prospect like Dahlin is very unlikely to happen.

Brady Tkachuk - 2018 Draft eligible
The Tkachuk bloodline continues to impress with Brady — he plays a lot like his brother Matthew. He’s quick to get in your face and stir things up, but he’s still a smart player. I don’t think he’s destined to be as good as his brother, but he’s the same type of pain-in-the-ass to play against. The name alone will make him a first-round pick, but his soft hands and scoring touch will play a big part at Boston University. Give his size and style of play, the Red Wings would certainly have a lot of interest in drafting him.