By Andy Eide
The eagle has landed. Or, perhaps, 29 of them have landed.
The USA World Junior Championship camp will kick off Saturday morning at the Angel Of The Winds arena in Everett. There will be three days of practice skates before the camp moves on to Kamloops to further prepare for the tournament which kicks off on Boxing Day.
The US team will play its group play on Vancouver Island, in Victoria, and the medal rounds will take place in Vancouver.
Not as popular in the United States as it is in Canada, the World Junior Championships is one of the most prestigious annual international tournaments. Name an NHL star and the chances are pretty high that he played in this tournament.
Of the 29 players in Everett this weekend, 25 of them have already been either drafted or signed as a free agent with an NHL club. One of the non-drafted players just happens to be the presumptive number one pick in the upcoming 2019 NHL Draft.
These are top players.
With the practices open and free to the public, this is a chance to see future NHL stars now. Here is a breakdown of who these guys are:
2019 Draft Eligible
Jack Hughes, C, USA National Development Team — There are four players in camp this weekend that are eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft. The marquee name, of course, is Jack Hughes. Currently playing with the U.S. National Development Team in the USHL, Hughes is going to be the top pick in June’s draft. Blessed with speed, skill and an elite play-making ability, Hughes is the real deal and would be the second American selected first overall in the past four drafts. He’ll obviously be the guy to watch this weekend in Everett.
Spencer Knight, G, USA National Development Team – While all eyes will be on Jack Hughes this weekend, Knight could be one of the more intriguing players. Its not often that a 17-year-old goalie makes a World Junior team, but Knight might just end up on the squad. He is considered one of the best American goalie prospects in a long time – think John Gibson and Jonathan Quick. Most draft mocks have him going in the second round of the upcoming draft.
Sean Dhooghe, RW, Wisconsin – As a 19-year-old who went undrafted during his initial draft year, Dhooghe still has a shot to get selected in June. With the Badgers this year he has nine goals and 14 points in 18 games. Those are fine numbers, but he’s listed at 5-foot-3, which may be what has kept him off of NHL scouts’ lists.
Cole Coskey, RW, Saginaw Spirit – Another 19-year-old who was passed over in the draft. Playing in the Ontario Hockey League, he’s coming off a 27-goal campaign last year and is off to a strong start this year with the Spirit as he has 34 points in 29 games.
Mike Callahan, D, Providence College — A fifth-round pick of the Coyotes in 2018, the 6-foot-2, 188-pounder is in his first year with Providence and has five points in 16 games so far. He is known more as a stay-at-home defender rather than a big offensive producer.
Ty Emberson, D, Wisconsin – Another Coyotes defenseman prospect, Emberson was taken in 2018 with Arizona’s third round pick and has extensive experience playing with USA Hockey. Most recently, he was an alternate captain in the 2018 U18 World Championships where he helped earn the Americans a silver medal by recording four assists. He’s in his freshmen year for the Badgers and has a pair of goals to go with four assists in 18 games.
Kyle Keyser, G, Oshawa Generals – Keyser singed as a free agent with Boston prior to the start of the 2017 season. He is in this third season with Generals and leads the OHL with a .931 save percentage and is second in goals-against at 2.34. The US net appears to be an open competition and Keyser has a shot at grabbing the spot.
Mattias Samuelson, D, Western Michigan – The big, 6-foot-4 defenseman was selected in the second round by the Sabres in 2018 and should be one of the more physical players in camp. He is the son of former New York Ranger Kjell Samuelson and is off to a decent start with Western Michigan. Just a freshman, he is playing on the top defensive pair and has eight points in 16 games.
Jack Drury, F, Harvard – Drafted in 2018 by the Hurricanes in the second round, Drury has experience playing for the US and has a great hockey lineage. His father Ted played on the 1992 and 1994 US Olympic team as well as eight seasons in the NHL. Chris Drury is his uncle and he played on three different US Olympic teams as well as 14 seasons in the NHL. Jack played for the US in the 2017 Hlinka Cup as well as the World Junior A Challenge and is currently off to a four-goal, 12-point start with Harvard.
Evan Barrat, F, Penn State – Playing in his second season in Hockey Valley, Barrat has 13 goals and 29 points in just 17 games. He was taken by Chicago with the 90th overall pick (third round) and played for the US in the 2017 U18’s and helped win a gold medal.
Jason Robertson, F, Niagra Ice Dogs – This will be Robertson’s first experience playing for the national team, but he has put up some strong numbers in the OHL. The Stars second-round pick in the 2017 draft started the year with Kingston but was traded to Niagra and has combined to 31 goals, 28 assists in 31 games to date.
Phil Kemp, D, 210, Yale – The Oilers’ seventh-round pick in 2017 is big. He’s listed at 6-foot-3 and over 200 pounds and is in his second season at Yale where he as two points in 11 games.
Los Angeles Kings
Mikey Anderson, D, Minnesota-Duluth – After being drafted by the Kings in the fourth round of the 2017 Draft, Anderson was part of the Minnesota-Duluth squad that won the NCAA Championship in 2018. He also played in the 2018 World Junior Championships in Buffalo where he recorded one assist. As a return player its safe to assume that he should make the squad again this go around.
Cayden Primeau, G, Northeastern – Primeau was named Hockey East Goaltender of the Year in 2018 after being taken by Montreal in the seventh round of the 2017 NHL Draft. In his second season with Northeastern he has posted a 2.40 goals-against and .918 save-percentage. His father Keith played over 900 games in the NHL.
Ryan Poehling, F, St. Cloud State – Another returnee for the US squad, Poehling played in all seven games during last year’s World Juniors in Buffalo. He picked up three points in those games and was a first-round pick of the Canadiens in the 2017 NHL Draft. He has 17 points in 16 games so far this season with St. Cloud State.
New York Islanders
Oliver Wahlstrom, F, Boston College – He was the 11th overall pick in the 2018 draft after a 40-goal season in the USHL with the National Development team. Has been off to a slow start with Boston College, only recording four goals and five points.
Logan Cockerill, F, Boston University – The 5-foot-9 forward was picked in the seventh round of the 2017 draft by the Islanders. He’s in his sophomore season with Boston and has a couple of goals and five points.
New York Rangers
Joey Keane, D, Barrie Colts – New York’s third-rounder in the 2018 draft is a dynamic, puck-moving defenseman and should make the squad this year. Playing in his second OHL season with Barrie he already has 20 points from the blue line in the Colts first 28 contests. He’s following up on a 44-point campaign the previous year.
K’Andre Miller, D, Wisconsin – Another US National Development Team product, Miller was taken in the first round (22nd overall) of the 2018 draft by the Rangers. He’s tall, listed at 6-foot-4 and is a physical player. As a freshman at Wisconsin he’s shown off his offensive abilities as well, piling up 17 points in 18 games.
Josh Norris, F, Michigan – Originally a first-round pick by the San Jose Sharks in the 2017 Draft, Norris was sent to the Senators in the Erik Karlsson trade this off season. He was part of Team USA in Buffalo at last year’s World Junior Championships and had three assists. An obvious choice to make the team again, Norris has 19 points in 17 games for the Wolverines.
Jack St. Ivany, D, Yale – Leads the Bulldogs defensemen in scoring with eight points during his freshman season at Yale. The 2018 fourth-round pick of the Flyers is the only California native in camp this weekend.
Noah Cates, F, Minnesota – Drafted in the fifth round of the 2017 draft, Cates is trying to make his first national team this weekend. He has seven points so far in his freshman year with the Gophers but is coming off a big year in the USHL with Omaha that saw him pot 21 goals and rack up 55 points in 60 games.
Joel Farabee, F, Boston University – Farabee had a big year in 2017-2018 with the National Development Team in the USHL. He scored 33 times and added 43 assists in 62 games and that got him drafted with the 11th overall pick in this past June’s NHL Draft. He’ll be attempting to make his first World Junior team this weekend and with numbers like that, he should have a good shot.
Jay O’Brien, F, Providence – Another Philadelphia first-rounder in 2018, O’Brien was selected straight out of high school where he put up an absurd 90 points (43g, 37a) in just 30 games. He has not been involved in any previous international tournaments with USA Hockey.
San Jose Sharks
Sasha Chmelevski, F, Ottawa 67’s – Chmelevski played for the US at the 2016 Ivan Hlinka tournament – where he picked up 10 points in five games — and was taken in the sixth round of the 2017 draft by the Sharks. He’s also had a bit of pro hockey experience, appearing in six games with the AHL San Jose Barracuda at the end of last season.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Sammy Walker, F, Minnesota – Walker was named Mr. Hockey in the state of Minnesota after the 2018 season and is a seventh-round pick of the Lightning in the 2017 Draft. He’s appeared in 15 games with the Gophers this season and has 10 points.
Quinn Hughes, D, Michigan – While he may get out-shined by his younger brother in the media this weekend, don’t sleep on the Canucks first-round pick (7th overall) from 2018. A dynamic offensive defenseman, Hughes is making his second World Junior Championship appearance after recording three assists last year. He has 20 points in 17 games this year with Michigan and is expected to sign, and join, the Canucks once his season is over in college.
Tyler Madden, F, Northeastern – The son of former NHL’er John Madden, the 5-foot-11 forward was taken by the Canucks in the third round of the 2018 draft. With Northeastern, he has 15 points in 14 games as a freshman.
Dylan Samberg, D, Minnesota Duluth – A big, 6-foot-4, 221-pound bruising defenseman, Samberg was selected by the Jets in the second round of the 2017 Draft. He was part of the USA’s bronze medal team last year in Buffalo and will be a lock to return this go around. Was part of the 2018 NCAA Championship team and this year has four points in 15 games.