Canada Sets West-Heavy Roster For Ivan Hlinka Tournament

Hockey Canada has announced its roster for the 2015 edition of the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. The country’s entry to the annual under-18 hockey showcase is heavy on two things: left-handed shots and Western Hockey League players.

Sean Monahan (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports)
Sean Monahan began his draft year at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports)

Here are the 22 players headed to Europe, courtesy of Hockey Canada’s site:

  • G Carter Hart – Everett (WHL)
  • G Dylan Wells – Peterborough (OHL)
  • D Jake Bean – Calgary (WHL)
  • D Kale Clague – Brandon (WHL)
  • D Dante Fabbro – Penticton (BCHL)
  • D Samuel Girard – Shawinigan (QMJHL)
  • D Josh Mahura – Red Deer (WHL)
  • D Victor Mete – London (OHL)
  • D David Quenneville – Medicine Hat (WHL)
  • F Tyler Benson – Vancouver (WHL)
  • F William Bitten – Flint (OHL)
  • F Dillon Dube – Kelowna (WHL)
  • F Pierre-Luc Dubois – Cape Breton (QMJHL)
  • F Brett Howden – Moose Jaw (WHL)
  • F Tyson Jost – Penticton (BCHL)
  • F Tanner Kaspick – Brandon (WHL)
  • F Jordan Kyrou – Sarnia (OHL)
  • F Beck Malenstyn – Calgary (WHL)
  • F Michael McLeod – Mississauga (OHL)
  • F Nolan Patrick – Brandon (WHL)
  • F Zach Poirier – North Bay (OHL)
  • F Sam Steel – Regina (WHL)

The 22-man roster features 12 players from the WHL, including three from the Brandon Wheat Kings and two from the Calgary Hitmen. The BCHL’s Penticton Vees also have a pair of representatives. Overall, the team features just two players from Quebec and six from Ontario. It’s a heavily western group, which is probably more a representation of the 2016 Draft class than any coaching staff bias – under-18 team’s head coach Stan Butler is from the OHL and his two assistants are evenly split between the WHL and QMJHL.

Notable players not on the tournament roster include Sean Day, Luke Green, Logan Brown, Jonathan Ang and Brandon Saigeon. All five players entered camp with a great deal of fan interest – particular Day, who was granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada for early entry into the OHL – but failed to crack the roster. For what it’s worth, I thought Saigeon was one of the better players in camp, but with such a deep crop of players that could play the right side, he was in tough to make the team.

In terms of the composition of the roster, it appears that the coaching staff tried to keep groupings together throughout the five-day selection camp and ended up taking several intact forward lines with them to the Czech Republic.

  • Howden and Malenstyn were together on a line for Team Red.
  • Patrick and Kyrou were together on a line for Team Red.
  • Kaspick, McLeod and Poirier were a line for Team White.
  • Benson, Steel and Dubois were a line for Team White.
  • Dube, Jost and Bitten were a line for Team White.

The blueline group is low on size, there’s nobody taller than six-feet, but high on puck movement. They’re anchored by the pairing of Girard and Fabbro, who were excellent throughout the camp’s scrimmages for Team Red. The balance of the defensive group was taken from Team White.

Overall, the roster features 21 players eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft. The lone exception is Nolan Patrick, who was born four days after the cut-off for this coming draft and will be in the 2017 Draft instead. Six players on the roster were not featured on NHL Central Scouting’s initial futures list: Samuel Girard, Victor Mete, David Quenneville, Tanner Kaspick, Beck Malenstyn and Zach Poirier.

The Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament begins on Monday, August 10 and features under-18 teams from Canada, the United States, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, Russia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The tournament is the first major event on the hockey calendar for draft eligible players and is arguably a bigger showcase event for them than the spring’s IIHF Under-18 World Championship, which takes place during the Canadian Hockey League playoffs (and is one of the year’s final major events for scouting players).