The Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament brings some of the best Under-18 players in the world together in Slovakia and the Czech Republic each summer for a quick and ferociously competitive week of hockey.
The tourney also becomes a springboard for NHL prospects about to enter their draft year and exposes them to scouts, even though media coverage is still sparse. In order to correct this, The Hockey News commissioned three of North America’s top players in the tournament to keep us updated on all the talent they are facing over there and provide quick scouting reports on the top players. From Team Canada and the Ontario League’s Windsor Spitfires, we have center Taylor Hall and defenseman Ryan Ellis. Representing Team USA and the Western League’s Kelowna Rockets is defenseman Collin Bowman.
Despite being thick in the middle of the tournament, Hall found time to give a breakdown of a loaded Swedish team Canada defeated 4-3 to secure an inside track to the gold medal game.
Robin Lehner, G – Sweden: “He was just awesome,” Hall said. “We had a lot of shots and the game would have been lopsided if it wasn’t for him. He was big and challenged the shooter so well.” Lehner plays for Frolunda in Sweden and is draft eligible in 2009.
Magnus Svensson-Paajarvi, LW – Sweden: “Very skilled player,” Hall noted. “He was a threat when he was on the ice, but I see him as more of a set-up guy than a shooter. Big kid and skates well.” Svensson-Paajarvi plays for Timra in Sweden and is draft eligible in 2009.
Anton Lander, C – Sweden: “Rocked the ‘C’ for them,” Hall noted. “He was a solid player who excelled in all three zones.” Lander also plays for Timra in Sweden and is draft eligible in 2009.
Jacob Josefson, C – Sweden: “A big player who can skate, but he really didn’t get as much ice time as he should have,” Hall said. “Sweden always has a tendency to underplay their best players for some reason, like Nicklas Backstrom when he was at the world juniors.” Josefson plays for Djurgardens in Sweden and is draft eligible in 2009.
Taylor Hall, Ryan Ellis and Collin Bowman will provide their own scouting reports as they play through the Ivan Hlinka Tournament, which concludes August 16.
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