SCOUT SURVEY: 2021 World Under-18s roundtable
It’s never not been a big deal on the scouting calendar, but the IIHF World Under-18 Championship will be watched closer than ever before.
With limited action in most leagues, if any at all, the 2021 tournament will be an opportunity to hone in on certain players, build deeper books on some, or simply get to see first glimpses — at least in 2020-21 — of others. And while a single two-week event wouldn’t normally be the be-all, end-all for a player’s portfolio, it might be the only action to draw and determine from.
With the tournament about to begin, we posed some questions to a handful of FCHockey’s scouts to get their thoughts on the exciting event.
Who are you most excited to watch at the U18 and why?
“I am most excited to see Mason McTavish from Canada at the U18 tournament. McTavish had a strong OHL rookie season in 2019-20 and followed it up with a nice stretch in Switzerland this year while waiting for the OHL’s decision on a 2021 season. McTavish is a player that brings a lethal shot and is not afraid to get physical and under the skin of his opponents. He’s always smiling and running his mouth during games and has the on-ice ability to back it up, seeing him against the best players of his age group is extremely exciting for me.” — Video scout Austin Broad
“I’m incredibly intrigued by Simon Edvinsson. I’ve had some really impressive viewings of him so far this season, but his level of competition was different each time. This tournament will be a great opportunity to measure him a little more directly against some other top players in this draft class, especially since he should log a lot of minutes.” — Head crossover scout Derek Neumeier
“I think I’m most excited to watch Chaz Lucius, mainly because of his past performance history at the international stage. The majority of rankings have Lucius somewhere in the teen’s, but he now is being viewed as a potential top 10 pick. He will have many eyes on him to see if he can prove his worth, and I believe he will have a very successful tournament.” — Regional scout Dylan Krill
“One of the players that I am most excited to watch at this year’s U18 tournament is Conner Roulette of the Seattle Thunderbirds. He has made a huge improvement during his limited sophomore season, and could play a key role in Team Canada’s depth up front. His play in this tournament will likely give scouts a better indication of Roulette’s ability to play anywhere in the line up.” — Regional scout James Henry
“Olen Zellweger. I’ve been a big fan of him as I started weeding through tape from D-1 to recent games and I’ve really loved his development and impact in Everett. He’s got so many details to his game that translate nailed down and has kept adding ancillary tools that has added to his offensive game. A strong tournament on the world stage will be a big boost for his draft stock and open some eyes.” — Head Western scout Justin Froese
RELATED: 10 TO WATCH AT THE UNDER-18s
Which player do you think can impact his draft stock the most with a strong U18?
“Corson Ceulemans has a huge opportunity to improve his draft stock at the U18 tournament. Playing in the AJHL can be a knock against his draft position but coming to the U18’s gives him a chance to play against the highest competition in the world at his age. With a strong showing for Canada Ceulemans can cement himself as a first round talent and potentially raise his stock from a mid-late first round choice to a possible top-15 choice.” — Broad
“This event will be especially big for all of the OHL guys who played in Europe. McTavish and Brennan Othmann were in Switzerland, Brett Harrison was in Finland, Chase Stillman was in Denmark. It’s good that they all got to play games, but their situations were tricky to analyze. They’ll all be on the same level here.” — Neumeier
“I have to go with Benjamin Gaudreau here. I don’t think anyone will question that the players from the OHL will have the most eyes on them this tournament due to the unfortunate news of the cancellation of the OHL season. Their performance could have a major impact on their draft stock and I believe if Gaudreau has a strong tournament, he could make a statement that he also needs to be viewed as a top goalie prospect in this draft, with Jesper Wallstedt and Sebastian Cossa.” — Krill
“Roulette is a guy I’ve harped on a lot because I’m not sold on the lack of progress or his platform abilities. I feel as though if he gets favourable reps and shows he can keep pace and mesh offensively with his peers while carrying his weight he will stay relevant. If he struggles to get into a role to achieve I’m concerned that some of the detriments I’ve noted in the past will be exploited. Ceulemans impact will also be a point of interest.” — Froese
Who are you most disappointed in not seeing at the tournament?
“Cole Sillinger missing the tournament is a huge disappointment in my eyes because of the year he was having. Sillinger was playing so well in the USHL and had a strong performance at the All-American Prospects Game. He’s such a gifted two-way player, not many kids with his offensive ability have the dedication to their defensive game like he does. It’s a shame that the world won’t get to see just how great of a player Sillinger can be at this tournament.” — Broad
“Carson Lambos for sure. I wasn’t crazy about what I saw out of him in Finland, and then he got hurt in his second WHL game. His stock has fallen and it’s a real challenge right now to determine exactly where the slide should stop.” — Neumeier
“I was really looking forward to seeing more of Sillinger against his top peers. Being one of the best goal scorers in the draft, it’s always nice to be able to have more views to evaluate how he handles different competition. I believe he would’ve had great success at this tournament and possibly taken a run for MVP, but unfortunately, we won’t be able to find out.” — Krill
“Over the last two seasons Sillinger has scored nearly .60 goals per game. I believe this tournament would have been the best opportunity for Sillinger to jump from the 15-20 range, up to the top 15 selections. His consistent offensive play in both the WHL and USHL has shown his skill level is something special. Missing this tournament shouldn’t hurt his draft rankings, but I feel like if he played, he had the chance to make a significant jump to an earlier pick.” — Henry
“I am selfishly glad I get to see more of him in league play as a result, but Trevor Wong has intrigued me in terms of where he fits amongst his peers. He’s taken a quick jump out of the gate and seems to be adjusting into an offensive minded, versatile player who could’ve had an impact up and down the line up. A Lambos redemption tour could’ve made my 2019 self feel better about my projections at the time, but Wong is the real mystery.” — Froese
Which non-2021 eligible are you most interested in seeing?
“While Connor Bedard, Shane Wright and Matvei Michkov are going to draw a lot of the eyes for non-2021 eligible players, I’m really looking forward to seeing American forward Rutger McGroarty at this tournament. All he does is score goals, he’s had success with the US National Development program at both the U17 and U18 levels this season and scored a goal in the All-American Prospects Game. Getting to see how his play will stack up against the other big non-2021 players is something that I’m really interested in.” — Broad
“I’ve already gotten to watch Bedard and Michkov this season, so I have to say Wright here. I fully expect him to be shot out of a cannon for his first game in more than a year and to keep a high pace until the end. He’ll be a guy looking to make a statement and leave his mark, and he certainly has the talent to do exactly that.” — Neumeier
“This is a tough one. With so much young talent coming up in the future, this is going to be a very exciting tournament to catch a glimpse of what is coming on the way. I think I am most excited for Wright, mainly because of the lost OHL season, it will be great to see where he is currently at with his development and to see how he does against strong competition.” — Krill
“Of all the non-2021 draft eligible players, I think you have to be most excited to see how Bedard performs. He has clearly been in the spotlight for quite some time now, and if he continues his red hot play, we could be looking at the next best thing since Connor McDavid. Scoring almost at will through his first 15 WHL games, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was able to do the same thing at the U18 level.” — Henry
“It probably would’ve been Savoie if he was going and the three of Bedard, Wright and Michkov is going to be a heck of a trip. Since those players will be on everyone else’s docket, I’m going to say Denton Mateychuk. Moose Jaw keeps passing the torch from one top D to the next and he’s the next solid option to come down the pipe. He may not get the hype with the blue chippers in this tournament but I feel he will hold his own and turn some heads.” — Froese
RELATED: FUTURE ON DISPLAY AT UNDER-18s
Who is your prediction for tournament MVP?
“My prediction for tournament MVP is Dylan Guenther from Canada. He’s been so good for Edmonton in the WHL and when you look at the things he does well I can see him having a breakout tournament for Canada. Guenther lives in the prime scoring areas on the ice and with his size, strength and shooting ability I can see him giving other teams fits every time he’s on the ice. He may not be the biggest name Canada has but I think Guenther’s ability makes him a great MVP candidate.” — Broad
“I’m going to go with Guenther. He’s going to get a lot of ice time, he’s going to put up a lot of points, he’s going to be a leader on a team that should challenge for the gold medal. It also helps that he will be coming into the tournament with plenty of momentum and confidence behind him after a red-hot start with the Edmonton Oil Kings.” — Neumeier
“My prediction for MVP is Guenther. Currently having an excellent season with the Edmonton Oil Kings, I believe Guenther will be riding high on confidence and come into this tournament with the mindset to dominate and display why he is in the conversation for going #1 overall. With him playing with highly skilled teammates, it could be deadly for opponents.” — Krill
“For this year’s tournament, match ups in Group A might have some higher scoring games through the round robin. I think that Canada’s Guenther will lead the charge, and will end up being the tournament’s MVP. His goal per game start in the shortened WHL 2021 season is the best way for him to lead up to this event. Look for Guenther to fill the net and take home the tournament’s top individual award.” — Henry
“I think it will be one of the younger kids, but part of me hopes it’s Guenther. His shortened season was nothing short of dominant and he showed a versatile, pro style approach. The numbers were there but the stigma that Edmonton was unfairly matched against weaker competition has created a bit of a tainted view of his body of work. A big tournament on this stage will surely rest doubts.” — Froese