Here is a list of which OHLers are playing where at this year’s World Junior Hockey Championship.
#9 Dylan Strome F Erie Otters
Strome was returned to the Otters on November 20th after playing in seven games for the Arizona Coyotes. He had one assist in his first taste of the National Hockey League. Back in Erie, Strome has been piling up numbers, putting up 16 points in seven games. He is one of five returnees from last year’s team that finished sixth and is wearing the “C” this year and being counted on for big minutes and production.
#16 Taylor Raddysh F Erie Otters
Here’s how well Raddysh’s season has been going: He left Erie for Canada’s World Junior Selection camp on December 11th and he was leading the OHL in scoring. He is still leading the OHL in scoring with 61 points in 28 games. Raddysh’s production has dropped off only slightly since Dylan Strome’s return. His points per game dipped just below two points per game is riding just over two. Raddysh packs his excellent scoring ability alongside a responsible game at both ends of the ice.
#27 Mitchell Stephens F Saginaw Spirit
Stephens is the consummate Canadian hockey player. He combines outstanding skill with a excellent work ethic and just the right amount of grit. If you need him to put up points, he can. If you need him to lead the charge on a hard forecheck, he can. He will be a player who many OHL G.M.s are considering making offers for as the OHL trade deadline approaches.
#22 Anthony Cirelli F Oshawa Generals
Cirelli became famous as an OHL rookie when he scored both goals for the Oshawa Generals in their 2-1 overtime victory in the 2015 Memorial Cup final. Cirelli tends to be a player who you notice on the ice whenever he is out there because he tends to make things happen in all three zones. He can elevate his game and is not bothered by the big stage. He, Stephens and Raddysh are all Tampa Bay Lightning prospects.
#21 Blake Speers F Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Speers began the year in New Jersey with the Devils. He has the ability to create offense, but his strength is his versatility. He appeared in three games for the Devils before being returned to the Greyhounds. In His first game for Sault Ste. Marie, Speers was checked into the boards behind the Windsor net and suffered a broken wrist. Despite only playing one game of junior hockey this season, he excelled in Canada’s pre-tournament games and will no doubt make himself a factor during the tournament.
#20 Michael McLeod F Mississauga Steelheads
McLeod may not play enormous minutes in Toronto and Montreal, but he will learn and will be counted on to be one of the core leaders next year. McLeod is incredibly skilled with great speed and the ability to finish. He is making better use of his teammates this year and stepped up on the international stage, putting in a great performance at the Ivan Hlinka two summers ago.
#1 Tyler Parsons G London Knights
Parsons has the resume and skill set to make the United States a tough out. If you can find a higher pressure experience than the one he had in overtime at the 2016 MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament, then you have done some major digging. Parsons made four very large saves before the winning goal was scored. Add in the rest of his performances during the Knights’ 17-0 run to a championship last season and you have a very impressive collection. Parsons is an outstanding athlete, who is as committed and focussed as they come and his flexibility and post-to-post ability is off the charts. The Flames selected the Chesterfield, Michigan native in the 2nd round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
#17 Jeremy Bracco F Kitchener Rangers
Bracco is a Toronto Maple Leafs’ prospect who knows how to put up points and does it regularly. He put up a 26-game point streak this year, the longest so far this season in the OHL. Bracco is very quick and can make moves that leave you dizzy. He also has some sandpaper in his game and has the ability to get other players off their game. He is not the biggest guy in the world, but that hasn’t hurt him a bit to this point.
#7 Olli Juolevi D London Knights
There are almost as many OHLers on Team Finland as there are on Team Canada. Juolevi will be the backbone of a much younger Finnish squad than the one that won Gold last season. As a 17-year old at last year’s World Junior tournament in his home city of Helsinki, Juolevi was named to the tournament all-star team and set a record for assists by a defenceman with nine. He went on to win the Memorial Cup with the Knights and was selected fifth overall by the Vancouver Canucks in the 2016 NHL entry draft. He will wear the “C” for Finland on a club with 13 draft eligible players, four of who were born in 1999.
#9 Janne Kuokkanen F London Knights
Kuokkanen is a second round pick of the Carolina Hurricanes in 2016 and has had a fantastic start to his first season in the Ontario Hockey League. The Oulunsalo native has 40 points in 28 games and is one of those players who the puck seems to follow around. Kuokkanen has a very accurate shot and goes to the grey areas to make plays and score goals. He helped Finland to Gold at the Under-18 World Hockey Championship last spring, playing alongside Jesse Puljujarvi.
#18 Vili Saarijarvi D Mississauga Steelheads
Saarijarvi is a third round pick of the Detroit Red Wings and made the move from the Flint firebirds to the Steelheads in June. He missed the first month and a half of the OHL season after injuring his wrist at a prospect camp in the summer. Saarijarvi is a fantastic skater who can move the puck and also run a power play.
#15 Petrus Palmu F Owen Sound Attack
Don’t spend too much time looking at Palmu off skates if you are trying to judge what he will be like on them. He is a generous 5’7. But, if you are looking for a player who plays big and finds ways to step up his game at key moments in games, he will always stand out. Palmu averaged just shy of a point per game last year and this year has gone over that pace. He is smart and crafty on the ice and continually makes plays that give his team a chance to win.
#25 Julius Nattinen F Windsor Spitfires
Nattinen is a great blend of skill, speed and smarts. He has a wickedly good shot and he will use it. Like Juolevi, he is one of the few returning players for the defending gold medal winners. The Spitfires acquired him after they won the bid to host the 2017 MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament and he has been solid for them. Nattinen can play all three forward positions and is known for being good on face-offs. Most importantly for the junior game, he understands the value of puck support.
#11 Renars Krastenbergs F Oshawa Generals
Krastenbergs has been in North America since the age of 17. He spent last season with TPH Thunder before joining the Generals for the start of 2016-17. So far he has put up 10 points in 31 games. He impressed Oshawa at the Under-18 World Hockey Championship where he averaged better than a point per game and added 12 penalty minutes.
#3 Jacob Moverare D Mississauga Steelheads
Moverare is playing in his first year in the OHL. His is seen as a defensive defenceman who uses his strength and smarts to excel, but has already put up some numbers in his first year with the Steelheads with a goal and 14 assists. Moverare won two silver medals for Sweden last year at the Under-18 World Hockey Championship and the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.
#3 Mikhail Sergachev D Windsor Spitfires
Began the year with the Montreal Canadiens. They selected him 9th overall in 2016. Owns a baby face, but a man’s body. Has a great shot from the point, skates well and will play very physical. Has a great knack for knowing when to play the body. His return to Windsor helped to bolster an already strong blue line for the Memorial Cup hosts.
#29 Filip Hronek D Saginaw Spirit
Another high pick of the Detroit Red Wings, who nabbed him the second round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Has good offensive instincts and an excellent IQ for the game. Hronek is a great skater. The questions about him will always centre around his size. He is 6’0 and 163 pounds. He is off to a great start in Saginaw where he logs all kinds of ice time and is playing in his second World Junior tournament.
#14 Erik Cernak D Erie Otters
Cernak has excellent size at 6’3 and 205 pounds and a skill set to go with it. He was a 2nd round pick of the Los Angeles Kings in 2015. He has been playing internationally for Slovakia since 2012 and is entering his third World Junior tournament. Had an assist in Slovakia’s bronze medal win over Sweden in 2015.
#20 Adam Ruzicka F Sarnia Sting
Ruzicka is a top prospect for the 2017 NHL Entry draft. He has become more and more consistent for the Sting as his first OHL season has worn on. Owns excellent size and skill and has good defensive instincts. Sarnia selected him 107th overall in the 2016 CHL Import Draft.
#12 Marian Studenic F Hamilton Bulldogs
Studenic is an offensively gifted player who was traken 11th overall by the Bulldogs in the 2016 CHL Import Draft. Played in the Slovakian men’s league last year with HK 36 Skalica and recorded 16 points in 35 games.
*Denmark and Switzerland do not have any OHL players
**Alexander Nylander is part of Team Sweden. He played for the Mississauga Steelheads last year and was drafted by Buffalo in June. They elected to send him to the Rochester Americans of the AHL. Nylander had nine points in seven games for Sweden last year.
***Christian Mieritz is part of Team Denmark. He split last year between the Hamilton Bulldogs and the Guelph Storm before signing to play professionally this year for Leksands IF in the Swedish Hockey League.
Photo Credit: (Minos Panagiotakis/Getty Images)