Hockey never really takes a holiday. One just had to take a look at the on-ice activities taking place during the dog days of summer in Plymouth, Michigan for confirmation of that fact.
Over the past week, the NHL’s top prospects and most desirable draft-eligible players from Canada, the U.S., Finland, and Sweden took to the ice for the 2019 World Junior Summer Showcase, a development camp and tournament where hopefuls try to make good impressions on their countries’ evaluators prior to the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship in the Czech Republic this winter.
The Jets had three prospects in attendance on three different teams: Declan Chisholm on Canada, Ville Heinola on Finland, and David Gustafsson on Sweden.
Here’s a brief look at how each of them did in Plymouth.
The Jets’ 2018 fifth-round pick nearly didn’t get to go at all. Chisholm, known as a strong skater and deft puck-mover, was a late addition, not joining Canada’s roster until July 22.
The prospect set new career-highs during his 2018-19 OHL campaign with the Peterborough Petes, putting up five goals and 43 assists for 48 points in 67 games.
Chisholm went pointless in Plymouth, however. He saw bottom-pairing action and limited minutes throughout the tournament — he was the seventh defenseman on July 30, skated with Vegas Golden Knights’ 2018 pick Peter Diliberatore on July 31, played alongside Ottawa Senators 2018 selection Jonny Tychonick on Aug. 2, and was a scratch for Canada’s final game on Aug. 3.
The Summer Showcase got off to a bit of a rough start for the Jets’ most recent first-rounder and 2019 WJC participant, but he had a strong showing overall.
Related: Heinola is Jets’ Latest Finnish Find
In a July 27 pre-tournament game against a U.S. split squad, the left-handed d-man suffered an early wrist injury, which caused some concern and forced him to miss Finland’s game the next day.
Thankfully for the Jets’ brass (the 2019 first-rounder is due in Jets training camp in a little more than a month) and Heinola’s Finnish fans, the injury turned out to be minor and Heinola was able to suit up for Finland’s next game.
He tallied an assist upon his return in Finland’s July 31 8-3 beat down of Canada, putting the puck on a tee for an Anttoni Honka one-time goal that put Finland up 7-0. According to ESPN’s Chris Peters, Heinola was one of that game’s strongest players.
Heinola stood out again on Aug. 2 against the U.S., playing on the second pairing with Anttoni Honka, but went pointless.
His final game — an Aug. 3 matchup against Sweden — was a mixed bag. He had his strongest offensive game but his weakest defensive one. Quarterbacking Finland’s power play, his game started poorly as he turned it over at the blue line and lost the ensuing footrace to Albin Eriksson, who scored shorthanded. Heinola was also passive on some Swedish entries and was beaten wide at times.
Heinola redeemed himself somewhat by tallying three assists in the 6-3 loss — he set up Honka for another one-time goal shortly after Sweden’s shorthanded goal, and also hit Patrik Puistola with a gorgeous backdoor pass in the third period that the latter tipped in.
Gustafsson participated in the tournament after spending his second season with HV71 Jonkoping of the Swedish Hockey League, where he tallied 12 points in 36 regular season games and four more in nine playoff games.
The hard-working two-way centre — who has already represented Sweden at two WJCs — missed the Jets’ development camp in June due to injury, but was a full participant in Plymouth and saw time on Sweden’s power play and penalty kill. He got off to a sparkling start, scoring a goal and adding an assist on a July 27 pre-tournament game versus the U.S. Blue squad.
The 2018 second-rounder finished the tournament proper with two goals and one assist, scoring in the final minute in a 5-2 Aug. 2 loss to Canada after he pounded home a pass from behind the net, and also in Sweden’s Aug. 3 6-3 victory over Finland, when he gained the zone and snapped it short-side top-corner.
Gustafsson showed a never-quit attitude and could have had another goal — in Sweden’s July 31 6-0 loss to the U.S., he was the closest to scoring for his side, ringing one off the crossbar.
He also used his 6-foot-2, 200-pound frame to his advantage. For example, he set a perfect screen that allowed Philip Broberg to rip one past Olivier Rodrigue during a second-period five-on-three against Canada.
More to Come
If you were too busy pursuing summertime activities to catch the trio in action, don’t fret: you’ll have plenty of chances to see them soon. All three will be in Winnipeg for training camp next month — the Jets’ seven-game preseason schedule begins on Sept. 18.