Another world juniors is in the books and it was a pretty good one. Yes, Canada blew it in the quarterfinal, but Finland was masterful in the final against a very strong Team USA and the Finns deserved that gold. Do we have a real debate for the 2019 draft now, with Kaapo Kakko playing so well in Vancouver? For me, Jack Hughes is still the No. 1 because he’s a natural center (Kakko played right wing at the world juniors but has played down the middle with TPS in Finland) with incredible speed and he was hampered by an upper-body injury at the tournament, but still put up a point per game. This is looking like another Auston Matthews-Patrik Laine year: whoever picks second will not be disappointed.
So we look forward to Ostrava and Trinec in 2020, when the Czechs host the world juniors. In the meantime, there have been a heckuva lot of trades in the CHL since we last met and we may see a few more since the WHL and OHL trade deadlines are Thursday. Let’s take stock of who has moved so far.
Owen Tippett, RW, Saginaw Spirit (OHL): Tippett, the Florida Panthers first-rounder, wasn’t the only star traded to Saginaw from Mississauga recently; center and Edmonton Oilers prospect Ryan McLeod was also dealt in a separate swap. But I thought Tippett played very well for Canada at the world juniors – he actually played aggressively and got chances because of it. He brings top-notch offense to the Spirit. NHL arrival: 2019-20
Noah Dobson, D, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL): A puckmoving blueliner still on the ascent, the New York Islanders first-rounder won a Memorial Cup with Acadie-Bathurst last year and now he’ll try to help the Huskies do the same. Dobson had to play a lot of tough minutes with the rebuilding Titan this year, so it’ll be fun to see him on a contender again. NHL arrival: 2020-21
Alex D’Orio, G, Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL): D’Orio, the Pittsburgh Penguins prospect, was actually the second goalie acquired by the Drakkar, but the first one, Dereck Baribeau (MIN) got hurt. So in comes the erstwhile Saint John Sea Dog to save the day. D’Orio has weathered some heavy storms in his ‘Q’ career, but has great size. NHL arrival: 2022-23
Jack Studnicka, C, Niagara IceDogs (OHL): It’s basically a two-horse race in the Eastern Conference, with Ottawa and Niagara the contenders. The IceDogs shook things up Tuesday by grabbing Boston Bruins pick Studnicka from the Oshawa Generals. Studnicka is a heart-and-soul player who will bolster a Niagara offense that already has some nice weapons. NHL arrival: 2019-20
Pierre-Olivier Joseph, D, Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL): An excellent offensive defenseman who probably should have been on Canada’s world junior team, Joseph is an Arizona Coyotes first-rounder who came to the Volts by way of Charlottetown. Drummondville has a potent squad and the slick-skating Joseph makes them even more dangerous. NHL arrival: 2020-21
Joey Keane, D, London Knights (OHL): As per usual, the Knights are going for it and adding Keane from the Barrie Colts makes a stacked ‘D’ corps all the more intimidating – London already has Adam Boqvist and Evan Bouchard back there. Keane, an athletic New York Rangers pick, brings even more skating and skill to the blueline and has six points in his first five games in London. NHL arrival: 2020-21
Bobby Brink, RW, Sioux City Musketeers (USHL): This one is interesting because it’s a WHL trade that doesn’t have immediate consequences. Brink, the World Jr. A Challenge MVP, is a University of Denver commit who just had his rights traded from Prince George to Portland. Can the Winterhawks sway the 2019 draft prospect their way in the future? He’d be a gem. NHL arrival: 2020-21
D’Artagnan Joly, C, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL): Let’s face it – we’re always going to be a little interested in Joly thanks to his fantastic name, but the big Calgary Flames pick can legit play, too. Joly was actually traded twice recently, starting in Baie-Comeau, going to Victoriaville briefly and now to Rimouski, where he brings size and playmaking skills. NHL arrival: 2021-22
Markus Phillips, D, Guelph Storm (OHL): A defensive defenseman with lots of experience, Phillips had played all his junior hockey with Owen Sound before now, as he heads to Guelph. The Los Angeles Kings pick brings a steady presence to the Storm, which also acquired power forward and Chicago Blackhawks prospect Mackenzie Entwistle from Hamilton. NHL arrival: 2020-21
Nick Henry, RW, Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL): To be honest, the WHL hasn’t been very fun with trades yet, but Lethbridge did some big work at the end of November by acquiring Henry and Vegas pick Jake Leschyshyn from Regina. Henry, a Colorado Avalanche pick, is a great complimentary producer and has vaulted into the league’s top five thanks to 22 points in 15 games with the Hurricanes. NHL arrival: 2021-22