Canada begins its quest for a ninth straight gold medal – and 13th in 14 years – at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament when play begins Monday with a game against co-host Slovakia.
For the Canadians to continue their dominance at the under-18 summertime event, they’re naturally going to need to score goals. Good thing they’re equipped in that department.
Here are the team’s top five offensive players, based on their point totals from this past season:
5. Jordy Bellerive – Lethbridge (WHL) – 36 points
Bellerive helped contribute to a revival in Lethbridge. The Hurricanes had missed the playoffs in every season since 2009 and were considered a laughing stock around the WHL with several players demanding trades out of town. The Canes won the Central Division in 2015-16 and Bellerive is part of a strong core with a team on the rise. At 5-foot-10, the center isn’t tall, but won’t get pushed around at 196 pounds.
4. Matthew Strome – Hamilton (OHL) – 38 points
The youngest Strome is proving he won’t have to be in the shadow of his older brothers for much longer. Strome is the third in a line of hockey playing boys. Ryan was selected fifth overall by the Islanders in 2011, while Dylan went third overall to the Arizona Coyotes in 2014. Strome got plenty of opportunity with a Bulldogs team that missed the playoffs after moving from Belleville. The 6-foot-4, 206-pound left winger will be counted on to expand his role in 2016-17.
T-2. Michael Rasmussen – Tri-City (WHL) – 43 points
It was a tough season for the Americans. They finished with the third-fewest points in the WHL and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2003. But, just like Carey Price back then, Rasmussen showed he is an exciting prospect. Rasmussen led all 1999-born players in scoring. He’s a 6-foot-6, 215-pound center and those don’t exactly grow on trees.
T-2. Joseph Veleno – Saint John (QMJHL) – 43 points
That Veleno is on this list is extraordinary. He’s the first player to play full time in the CHL as a 2000-born player. That’s because he joined the ranks of John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid and Sean Day, gaining exceptional status and entering major junior a year early. The first four on that list, however, are OHLers. Veleno is the first to step into the Q ahead of schedule. Veleno, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound center, isn’t eligible for the NHL draft until 2018.
1. Maxime Comtois – Victoriaville (QMJHL) – 60 points
The left winger finished his rookie season averaging nearly a point per game. He was the league’s top point-producer among 1999-born players. Comtois led the Tigres with 26 goals and was second in overall scoring. He finished eight points behind 2016 Philadelphia Flyers pick Pascal Laberge. THN’s Ryan Kennedy rated Comtois as the third-best player available for the 2017 draft in the sneak peek portion of the magazine’s 2016 Draft Preview issue. Kennedy describes Comtois this way: “fast, competitive and versatile, he can kill you with a variety of weapons.”