Nations participating at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship do not have to set their rosters until December, but teams are already evaluating players for the highly anticipated annual tournament.
The Nashville Predators had three prospects at summer evaluation camps. Defenseman Alexandre Carrier of Canada and goaltender Karel Vejmelka of the Czech Republic participated in Hockey Canada’s Summer Development Camp in Calgary, while American defenseman Jack Dougherty was briefly at the U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid.
Dougherty, who signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Predators in July, was one of six players cut from Team USA’s roster after three days of scrimmages, and with four days of camp remaining. In three games for Team Blue, Nashville’s second round (51st overall) pick in 2014 was scoreless and took a minor penalty.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound 19-year-old will play for the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL next season after playing one year of college hockey for Wisconsin. In 33 games for the Badgers, the Minnesota native scored nine points (two goals, seven assists).
Carrier dressed in two of three games for Canada at its showcase, tallying just one assist. Still, he was impressive nonetheless.
Outside of Marner, the most impressive Canadian player was defender Alexandre Carrier, a Nashville Predators pick. Carrier played a simple, composed game, and continued to make smart decisions with the puck even as the game became more physical as it wore on.
— Christopher Ralph (@ChrisRalphTHW) August 4, 2015
Carrier, a fourth round (115th overall) selection at this year’s draft, scored 55 points (12 g, 43 a) in 68 games for the Gatineau Olympiques of the QMJHL last season and is expected to continue playing for the club in 2015-16. Though the Quebec City native is small for a defenseman at 5-foot-11, 168-pounds, Carrier makes up for by being an incredible skater.
Nashville’s fifth round (145th overall) pick at this year’s draft Vejmelka started in just one game for the Czech Republic, allowing six goals on 38 shots in a 6-2 loss to Canada.
Vejmelka, 19, is expected to play for HC Dynamo Pardubice of the Czech Extraliga in the upcoming year after playing most of last season in the Czech Under-20 league. In seven games in the professional league, he recorded a 2.86 goals-against average and .922 save percentage.
In addition to his size, at 6-foot-4, 205-pounds, Vejmelka is extremely quick and mobile. That deadly combination is a recipe for success for any goaltender in North America. There is a slight chance Vejmelka plays with the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL or Cincinnatti Cyclones of the ECHL, both minor league affiliates of Nashville, in 2016-17 if the Predators do not re-sign Carter Hutton.
Colin Fitts is a Nashville Predators staff writer and is a credentialed media member of the Chicago Wolves. From Nashville, Tennessee, Colin majors in journalism and public relations at Columbia College Chicago. Follow him on Twitter, @FittsTHW. Email: 22fitts [at] gmail [dot] com.