World Junior Summer Showcase: Lane Hutson, Sam Rinzel Among Day 1 Standouts
World Junior Summer Showcase: Lane Hutson, Sam Rinzel Among Day 1 Standouts
USA's split squads dropped a pair of games to Finland and Sweden on the opening day of the 2023 World Junior Summer Showcase.
PLYMOUTH, Mich. -- Dozens of NHL prospects were on display as the 2023 World Junior Summer Showcase got the games going at USA Hockey Arena Saturday. Candidates vying for their respective national junior teams certainly came to play as both games featured high intensity and pace.
Team USA's split squads "Blue" and "White" did not necessarily have their best as their European counterparts from Sweden and Finland swept the first day. Sweden beat Team Blue 7-0, while Finland had a tighter challenge against Team White, earning a 4-2 decision.
I'll be on hand at the event all week as some of the best under-20 players in the world go head-to-head. Each game day, I'll be detailing the lineups, and taking note of players that stood out in one way or another, while also tracking some of the most important roster battles as USA Hockey looks to build its roster for the 2024 IIHF World Junior Championship in December.
This week represents an important step in that process and FloHockey will have you covered. Let's get to it.
World Junior Summer Showcase Game 1
Sweden 7 – USA Blue 0
Goals Scored By: Anton Johansson (DET), Felix Nilsson (NSH), Alexander Suzdalev (WSH), Otto Stenberg (STL), Zeb Forsfjall (SEA), Oskar Pettersson (OTT), Anton Wahlberg (BUF)
Team USA Blue Lineup
Gabe Perreault (NYR) – James Hagens (2025) – Gavin Brindley (CBJ)
Quinn Finley (NYI) – Cole Knuble (PHI) – Cam Lund (SJS)
Oliver Moore (CHI) – Danny Nelson (NYI) – Cruz Lucius (CAR)
Quentin Musty (SJS) – Will Smith (SJS) – Gavin Hayes (CHI)
Tyler Duke – Seamus Casey (NJD)
Zeev Buium (2024) – Charlie Leddy (NJD)
Paul Fischer (STL) – Hunter Brzsutewicz (VAN)
Jake Livanavage – Garrett Brown (WPG)
Jacob Fowler (MTL)
Team USA Power-Play Units:
PP1: Will Smith (right half wall), Cole Knuble (bumper), Gavin Hayes (net-front), Seamus Casey (point), Quentin Musty (left half wall)
PP2: Gabe Perreault (left half wall), James Hagens (bumper), Cruz Lucius (right half wall), Zeev Buium or Jake Livanavage (point), Gavin Brindley (net-front)
Alexander Suzdalev (WSH) – Filip Bystedt (SJS) – Oscar Pettersson (OTT)
Anton Wahlberg (BUF) – Fabian Wagner (WPG) – Linus Hemström
Otto Stenberg (STL) – David Edstrom (VGK) – Felix Unger-Sörum (CAR)
Isac Born – Zeb Forsfjäll (SEA) – Felix Nilsson (NSH)
Calle Odelius (NYI) – Mattias Hävelid (SJS)
Jakob Norèn – Elias Salomonsson (WPG)
Theo Lindstein (STL) – Anton Johansson (DET)
Kevin Reidler (OTT)
Game 1 Player Notes
Anton Johansson, D (Detroit Red Wings): With a goal scored, Johansson had a strong game and showcased improved skating and mobility. He was eager to jump into plays and was able to play solidly in his own end. He moved pucks well and played with some confidence throughout the game. He’s got to battle to make Sweden’s deep blue line and performances like that will give him a chance.
Elias Salomonsson, D (Winnipeg Jets): A tall defender, Salomonsson has definitely gotten stronger and stronger over the last two years, tacking on muscle to his frame and playing with more of a mean streak. He defended with physicality and was hard to knock off pucks. USA couldn’t get much traction in the hard areas when he was on the ice.
Hugo Havelid, G: The undersized netminder who has gone undrafted in each of the last two drafts has a chance to play a key role for Sweden. He stopped all 25 shots he faced and was able to battle through traffic. He stopped Will Smith on a breakaway and was sharp when tested with good chances, which was not often in this particular matchup.
David Edstrom, C (Vegas Golden Knights): With a pair of assists, Edstrom continued his strong international play as he was one of Sweden's standouts in a silver-medal finish at last year's Under-18 World Championship. He has size, speed and skill and made a lot of plays in tight to the net or in tight areas. He has the strength and the touch to be a good threat in the offensive zone.
Felix Nilsson, RW (Nashville Predators): Nilsson looked sharp most of the game, but never as much as on his unassisted snipe in the first period. He took an errant pass, zipped into the zone and wired a shot over USA goalie Andrew Oke, right off the cross bar and in. Nilsson used his frame well and was strong on the puck. He had a couple of other chances that didn't convert, but he was a consistent threat.
Will Smith, C (San Jose Sharks): The U.S. didn’t score a lot, but Smith generated a few chances and had a few good looks over the course of the game. He was able to establish some interior presence, while also using the soft areas of the ice to his advantage. It was hard for him to cut through the big Swedish defense and sometimes got caught doing a little too much.
Cole Knuble, C/W (Philadelphia Flyers): Knuble played with some grit and determination, showing that he can keep up with the World Junior pace. He got some power-play time and made sure he was hard to play against on his shifts by trying to drive the net and make plays in the corners. He has an uphill climb to make Team USA, but made himself visible throughout the game.
Gavin Brindley, RW (Columbus Blue Jackets): Brindley is one of the only returning players on the USA Blue roster from the last World Junior team and looked like it. He played with good pace, had a few looks and was aggressive on the physical side of things despite not having the big frame to throw around. He was able to keep up with the pace Sweden threw USA’s way.
Seamus Casey, D (New Jersey Devils): Casey, who was on last year's squad but did not appear in a game, has a strong case to make this year’s club and play a significant role. He is a high-end skater with creative skill and was able to make some good plays in transition offensively. Sweden seemed to overwhelm USA’s defense corps, but Casey held his own reasonably well.
Zeev Buium, D (2024): A late 2005 birthdate, Buium is one of the draft-eligible players to watch in this event. He is a shifty defenseman who can create space for himself and time for his forwards from the offensive blue line. There were a few instances defensively where he got caught, but the talent he has with the puck on his stick could keep him in the mix for a roster spot on what should be a very mobile USA blue line come December.
World Junior Summer Showcase Game 2
Finland 4 - USA White 2
Goal Scorers: Rutger McGroarty (WPG) and Cole Eiserman (2024) for USA. Lenni Hämeenaho (NJD), Otto Salin (LAK), Tommi Männistö (2).
USA Blue Lineup
Isaac Howard (TBL) – Frank Nazar (CHI) – Ryan Leonard (WSH)
Rutger McGroarty (WPG) – Cutter Gauthier (PHI) – Jimmy Snuggerud (STL)
Tanner Ludtke (ARI) – Charlie Stramel (MIN) – Devin Kaplan (PHI)
Cole Eiserman (2024) – Carey Terrance (ANA) – William Whitelaw (CBJ)
Lane Hutson (MTL) – Ryan Chesley (WSH)
Zach Schulz (NYI) – Sam Rinzel (CHI)
Drew Fortescue (NYR) – Vinnie Borgesi
Jackson Dorrington (VAN) – Eric Pohlkamp (SJS)
Tyler Muszelik (FLA)
Trey Augustine (DET)
Team USA Power-Play Units:
PP1: Cutter Gauthier (left half wall), Rutger McGroarty (bumper), Jimmy Snuggerud (right half wall), Ryan Leonard (net-front) and Lane Hutson (point)
PP2: Isaac Howard (left half wall), Frank Nazar (bumper), Cole Eiserman (right half wall), William Whitelaw (net-front), Eric Pohlkamp or Sam Rinzel (point)
Janni Nyman (SEA) – Jerre Lassila – Kasper Halttunen (SJS)
Max Koskipirtti – Konsta Helenius (2024) – Lenni Hämeenaho (NJD)
Jesse Nurmi (NYI) – Topi Rönni (CGY) – Jesse Kiiskinen (NSH)
Tommi Männistö – Samu Bau (ARI) – Venni Tolppola
Aron Kiviharju (2024) – Otto Salin (LAK)
Emil Pieniniemi (PIT) – Kasper Kulonummi (NSH)
Otto Heinonen – Joona Väisänen
Topi Vuori – Niko Minkkinen
Niklas Kokko (SEA)
Visa Vedenpää (SEA)
Game 2 Player Notes
Tommi Männistö, LW (Undrafted): The Michigan State commit put his stamp on the game with what turned out to be the game-winner thanks to his speed. Männistö showcased some incredible speed, bursting through the neutral zone and wiring a perfect shot past future teammate Trey Augustine (DET). He was noticeable throughout the game thanks to his feet.
Konsta Helenius, C (2024 Eligible): One of the top draft prospects for 2024, Helenius looked like he belonged despite being one of the youngest players on the ice. He asserted himself at both ends, assisted on Finland’s first goal and did not back down from the physical game. He has good touch on the puck and can really skate.
Lenni Hämeenaho, RW (NJD): He scored Finland’s first goal and was generally dangerous offensively throughout the game. Hämeenaho made some high-skill, soft-touch plays and was competitive in the hard areas of the ice as well. He was on last year’s World Junior team and almost certainly will be again this year, in a much larger role.
Niklas Kokko, G (Seattle Kraken): Kokko was tested a lot and was able to make 22 saves over the course of the game to give his team a chance to win. The U.S. had some excellent looks on the power play. With good size and quickness, he made the game look easy most of the time.
Cutter Gauthier, C (Philadelphia Flyers): With Logan Cooley likely out of the picture for Team USA, the No. 1 center position is up for grabs and Gauthier likely has the best claim on it. He played with pace and skill, and a bit of aggression. His frustration was noticeable as he had quite a few shots blocked, but he was creating chances and didn’t need much space to operate.
Lane Hutson, D (Montreal Canadiens): This isn’t anything we don’t already know, but Lane Hutson’s skill level is something to behold. He was able to break some ankles out there, while helping create scoring chances. Defensively, he held his own though some of the bigger forwards on Finland were able to get some position on him and make it tougher. With the puck, however, he was dynamic and untouchable it seemed. He finished the game with an assist, pushing a beautiful pass from beneath the faceoff circle to Rutger McGroarty (WPG) in the slot.
Charlie Stramel, C (Minnesota Wild): As a returning player, you have to be assertive and I thought Stramel was. He was on USA's PK and made some really good plays at 5-on-5. He was physical, too. He was able to dispossess the other team of the puck with his body and they had a harder time doing the same to him. He seemed more confident on the puck and tried to make a few plays, but still needs a little more polish.
Sam Rinzel, D (Chicago Blackhawks): The USA blue line has a lot of openings and Rinzel made a good case for himself in his first game. He’s a talented skater with a big frame and he showed confidence with the puck on his stick. I think he does need to make his decisions a hair quicker because plays develop a lot faster at the World Junior level and he did take a couple of penalties, which doesn't help. I still think his overall game trended well for his candidacy to make the roster.
Isaac Howard, LW (Tampa Bay Lightning): After missing the cut for last year’s camp and struggling offensively throughout the season, we saw more glimpses of what Howard is capable of in this first game. He had a secondary assist on Cole Eiserman’s power-play goal and I thought he was seeing the ice well. He’ll probably need to make an even bigger impact on the game to make the forward group that is one of the most competitive.
Ryan Leonard, RW (Washington Capitals): Leonard did not hit the scoresheet, but he was consistently noticeable. He played with power and skill, like usual and really showed his pace in this game. He can skate with anybody and will use his body to get in the way in puck battles. His combination of physicality and soft-touch skill is quite fun to watch.
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