A Devils-Centric Recap of the World Junior Summer Showcase

The 2018 World Junior Summer Showcase ended this past Saturday with the USA being edged by Canada 6-5 and Sweden defeating Finland 5-3.

The games were played at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops, British Columbia and featured those four teams playing a series of games from July 30 to August 4.

The Devils had five players in the showcase, including Fabian Zetterlund of Sweden, newly-drafted Ty Smith of Canada, Reilly Walsh of the US, Aarne Talvitie of Finland and Eetu Pakkila of Finland. This showcase acts as a kind of warmup to the World Junior Championship, to be played this December and January in Victoria and Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Zetterlund of Sweden played in five games in the tournament, notching two goals and six penalty minutes. Those two goals placed him second on the team in goals, and tied with three other players for third in total scoring with two points.

Canada’s Smith played in all three of their games and notched two assists for two points. That tied him for second in team scoring with seven others. Note that the US and Canada had split squads with Canada having a “red” and “white” team and the US having a “white” and “blue” team in addition to their main teams. Some players got playing time on multiple teams.

Reilly Walsh of Team USA played in five games, netting an assist. The lone assist put him in second place in scoring tied with 11 other players in the short-format tournament.

As for the Finns, Talvitie was the player of the tournament for the Devils, potting four goals in five games to pace all Finnish skaters in scoring. He also had two penalty minutes. Pakkila played in four games but did not register on the scoresheet.

Overall Ty Smith was getting rave reviews from people who saw every game, as was Talvitie. We will find out more about these players as training camp gets underway next month.

The results of the tournament saw USA-Blue fall to Sweden 3-1 and USA-White defeat Finland 5-2 (Talvitie had a power play goal in this one) on July 30. July 31 had Finland get by Sweden 4-3 in a shootout (Talvitie had a goal and missed in his shootout attempt) while USA-Blue beat Canada-White 3-2 and USA-White beat Canada-Red 7-5.

The tournament proper got started on August 2 with USA defeating Sweden 5-4 (Zetterlund scored in the third period of this one for the Swedes) in overtime and Canada notching past FInland 4-3 also in OT. Talvitie scored a clutch shorthanded goal in the third period that tied things up at three, eventually forcing the overtime period.

On August 3, the US beat Finland 2-1. Here, Walsh had the primary assist on a power play goal by Grant Mismash in the second period. Also, Sweden fell to Canada 4-1. Smith had the primary assist on Alex Formenton’s goal with three seconds left in the second period.

On August 4, the final day of the tournament, Canada defeated Team USA 6-5 while Sweden took out Finland 5-3. In the Canada-USA game, Smith had the secondary assist on a first period power play goal by Nick Suzuki and Talvitie had a first period power play goal in the Finland-Sweden game.

As you can see, this is a very evenly matched series of games which bodes well for the competitive nature of the World Juniors this winter.

Devils Finish Up at Day 2 of 2018 Draft

The Devils made five more picks in the 2018 NHL Draft as the second and final day concluded down in Dallas. They had a pick in the fourth round (110th overall), two in the fifth round (136th overall and 141st overall), one in the sixth round (172nd overall) and one in the seventh round (203rd overall).

In the fourth round, the Devils selected Xavier Bernard 110th overall. According to the Last Word on Hockey website prospect report, Bernard is a left-hand shooting defenseman from Mercier, Quebec. He was born January 6, 2000, making him 18-years old. He is 6-feet, 3-inches tall and weighs 208 pounds. He was taken out of the QMJHL from the Drummondville Voltigeurs.

The Last Word on Hockey article, written by Ben Kerr, mentions that Bernard struggled in his first junior season in 2016-17, but “broke out in his second season” in the Q. He had 35 points in 2017-18 (11 goals and 24 assists) “in 66 games and improved to a +35.” He “added a goal and two assists for three points in 10 playoff games.”

Kerr also mentioned that he represented Canada internationally at the 2016-17 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge, scoring “one assist in five tournament games” and “also played in the CHL Top Prospects Game.”

With the 136th overall pick, the Devils took a goaltender, Akira Schmid. According to EuroHockey.com, Schmid is an 18-year old Swiss-born goalie, born May 12, 2000. He catches left and spent last season with the SC Langnau Tigers of the Swiss National League. He represented Switzerland in the World Junior Championships, playing two games for them with a 6.50 goals against average and a .865 save percentage. He also posted a shutout.

Schmid becomes the second Swiss goalie taken by the Devils in the last few years (Gilles Senn is the other) and the fourth Swiss player in the Devils organization along with Mirco Mueller and Nico Hischier.

The Devils stayed in Europe for their next pick, also in the fifth round, as they took Yegor Sharangovich 141st overall. According to EliteProspects.com, Sharangovich is a little bit older at 20 years old (he was born June 6, 1998). The native of Minsk, Belarus is a left-shooting center who played for Dinamo Minsk of the KHL last season. In 47 games with them, he notched four goals and eight assists for 12 points to go with 11 penalty minutes. He was ranked 51 by the NHL Central Scouting Department among European skaters. He is 6-feet, 2-inches tall and weighs 196 pounds.

The Devils returned back to North America for their sixth round pick, taking Mitchell Hoelscher 172nd overall. Hoelscher is 18-years old, born Janury 27, 2000 and is a native of Waterloo, Ontario. He is a left-shooting center and is 5-feet, 11-inches tall and weighs 165 pounds.

He played last season with the Ottawa 67’s of the OHL where he had 10 goals and 18 assists for 28 points in 67 games played. He also posted 46 penalty minutes and was a plus-1. In the playoffs, he played in five games and had a goal and an assist for two points and a pair of penalty minutes. He was also a minus-3. Hoelscher was ranked 62 among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting. All of this information comes from EliteProspects.com.

The Devils’ final pick of the 2018 Draft was Eetu Pakkila (taken 203rd overall). Pakkila is an older 18 year old, born October 3, 1999 in Oulu, Finland. He is a lefty-shooting left winger ranked 123 by NHL Central Scouting among European players. He split last season between Karpat U20 of the Jr. A SM-Liiga where he played 48 games and scored 23 goals and 17 assists for 40 points. He also played one game (a playoff game no less) for the big club (Karpat of LIiga) where he was a minus-1. By contrast he was a plus-15 for his junior team.

Pakkila is 6-feet tall and is 168 pounds. All information on him comes from EliteProspects.com as well.

So that wraps up a busy day at the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. The Devils filled some needs that will hopefully pan out. Congratulations to all of the players chosen and good luck to them.

In another bit of news semi-related to the Devils. Mark your calendars for February 5 and get your voices ready. That is the night that the Los Angeles Kings come into town with an old friend.

Yes, the Ilya Kovalchuk saga is over. Kovalchuk signed a three-year deal with LA that sees the 35-year-old Russian star return to the NHL and bring his talents to Tinseltown.

Hey, at least it’s over and he is in the Western Conference. We only have to see him once a year and can boo him out of the building for that night. But most importantly, he’s the Kings and their fans’ problem now.