Brayden Point was by far the most productive member of the Western League’s Moose Jaw Warriors and now he’s joining Team Canada for the world under-18s in Finland.
A Hot List stalwart graduated from eligibility Monday night, as goalie John Gibson made his NHL debut with the Anaheim Ducks, notching a shutout for good measure. Elsewhere, Radek Faksa headed to AHL Texas while Henri Ikonen headed to Syracuse. Most importantly, the world under-18s are coming up in Finland, so here’s a look at some of the names to know there and around the prospect galaxy.
Brayden Point, C – Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
Canada has been tremendous at the under-18 level, dominating the summer’s Ivan Hlinka tournament for years and even snagging gold at the worlds last season despite facing a favored American squad in the final. Why were the Americans favored? Because Canada’s roster is hampered by the ongoing major junior playoffs. Fortunately, this year’s edition will have a good amount of experience and Point is part of that cohort. He helped the Canucks win gold in the summer and he learned from playing in Europe. That’s important since the under-18s are in Finland next week.
“I learned how to play on the big ice and what works over there, rather than in the CHL” Point said. “You learn how the pace is.”
And the international duty is also fun because Point gets to play on all all-star team from across three different major junior circuits – not to mention view his competition for the NHL draft this summer.
“It’s cool to see,” he said. “It’s cool to see what they’re good at and the skills they bring. It’s good to see some of the guys I know here and meet some new guys.”
A smaller player who models his game after Buffalo’s Tyler Ennis, Point rang up an awesome 36 goals and 91 points for Moose Jaw this season. Incredibly, the next-highest producer on the Warriors had just 55 points.
“Personally I had a really good season, but obviously I would have liked a few more wins and more team success,” he said. “Hopefully next year we can get to the playoffs.”
But Moose Jaw’s loss is Canada’s gain and when Point is distributing the puck, it usually ends up in the back of the enemy’s net. Draft eligible in 2014.
Kasperi Kapanen, RW – KalPa (Fin.)
Scouts have been empathetic to Kapanen’s plight this season, as the teen was overburdened on a KalPa team that leaned heavily on him. Now the responsible winger will get a chance to spread his wings at the under-18s, where he can show off his dazzling two-way abilities and dominate his age class. Draft eligible in 2014.
Daniel Muzito-Bagenda, LW – Modo (Swe.)
The middle of three hockey-playing brothers, Muzito-Bagenda is a thick winger with speed, which he uses to play an aggressive power game. He’s part of Sweden’s long roster for the under-18s and will most likely be an energy guy and possible penalty-killer on the final squad. Draft eligible in 2014.
Noah Hanifin, D – U.S. NTDP (USHL)
Already looking like a future franchise NHL defenseman, Hanifin will play for Team USA at the under-18s. Insiders were surprised with how long it took the NTDP to call him up from the under-17 squad this season and if he jumps to the Quebec Remparts next year, many will point to that alleged slight. Either way, the Boston College commit is big, poised and dominant at both ends. Draft eligible in 2015.
Nic Kerdiles, LW – Norfolk Admirals (AHL)
Leaving Wisconsin after his sophomore year, Kerdiles will be missed in Madison, but they’ll love him in Norfolk. A power forward who can really turn up the offense, Kerdiles will have a legit shot at a scoring role in Anaheim next year, especially if Teemu Selanne goes through with his retirement plans. Drafted 36th overall by Anaheim in 2012.
Devin Williams, G – Erie Otters (OHL)
The surprise water-carrier for Erie in the playoffs, Williams has usurped Swedish world junior starter Oscar Dansk and helped the Otters to a 3-0 series lead on potent Sault Ste. Marie. The young American has more shutouts (two) than goals-against (one) versus the Greyhounds and is known for making athletic saves and going post-to-post quickly. Draft eligible in 2014.
Brendan Leipsic, LW – Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
He may not have hit the offensive highs of his draft year, but 120 points is tough to do twice. Instead, Leipsic saved his best for the playoffs, where he has lit it up with six goals and 16 points through seven games. On top of his scoring prowess, Leipsic also plays the game with an agitating edge, getting a penalty recently for drinking out of the opposing goalie’s water bottle. Drafted 89th overall by Nashville in 2012.
Vaclav Karabacek, RW – Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)
The Piques may not be long for these Quebec League playoffs thanks to a certain Halifax juggernaut, but that might be good news for the Czech under-18 team. If Karabacek is available, his no-nonsense approach to the game and ability to put up points would be huge – he’s been great for Gatineau in his rookie campaign. Draft eligible in 2014.
Chris Tierney, C – London Knights (OHL)
Hard work and defensive attention helped Tierney climb the ladder in London, but so far in the playoffs, the best defense has been scintillating offense. The talented pivot has five goals and 16 points through six post-season games, scoring in every contest. Drafted 55th overall by San Jose in 2012.
Igor Shestyorkin, G – Spartak (Rus.)
A late 1995 birthday, Shestyorkin – which will probably be written “Shesterkin” in North America – has been locking it down for Spartak in the Russian junior league playoffs. Talented but not huge (he’s six feet tall, flat), he’s rocking a .941 save percentage for the semifinalists and even spent time in the KHL this season. Draft eligible in 2014.