By Dan Stewart

DraftPro evaluators were excited to see the World U17 Hockey Challenge back on the schedule this season after a two-year absence on the hockey calendar due to the pandemic. This U17 event has traditionally been the best place to see all the worlds future talent compete head to head and get a baseline idea of the next couple of NHL drafts potential and depth.

Our Director of Scouting Jared Brown, Head Scout Matt Hnatiuk, and regional evaluators Joely Stockl, Tyler Karoway and Matthew Tucker all took in the games and made evaluations on the next wave of talent that will be in the spotlight for the 2024 and 2025 NHL Drafts.

In the fourth part of this seven-part series we highlight the fourth place Canada Black team that lost to team Finland in the Bronze medal game.

#1 G, Louka Cloutier, Canada Black, 6’0”, 150, L, DOB 08.22.2006

“Cloutier is a great young goaltender with so much promise. A great skater, able to recover really well and get back into position after a save. He plays a butterfly style that compliments his great skating. His lateral slides are fast and he is able to get back in position right away and leave no space for the shooter to shoot at. Cloutier is also able to play a stand-up role as well. He shows great t-pushes off the post to be squared to the shooter and gets out of his net to challenge him well. He is extremely quick when sliding post to post and he is good at always following the play. He also possesses good glove positioning and blocker positioning. Though I do feel like Cloutier needs to work on his rebound control. Often, when making a save the puck would land in the slot area. He needs to be more solid on his rebound control and be able to direct pucks to the side out of danger scoring areas or simply just freeze it. Other than that, Cloutier is a goaltender that impressed me throughout the tournament and he shows great promise for the future. He has great positioning and a great unique confident style which enables him to be a dynamic, trustworthy goaltender. I feel with more development this kid can be a future number 1 goaltender in the NHL as he does provide all the tools to succeed at the position.” – MT

#3 D, Tomas Lavoie, Canada Black, 6’3” 210, R, DOB 03.31.06

“If you are looking for your next Dylan McIlrath you want to draft Tomas Lavoie. A kid that developed early and has simple skills. His skating is atrocious, he struggles with the simplest thing as a crossover. His strength is his only attribute and he can’t even use that right. He doesn’t even keep his feet moving, he is a very strong pylon. He has zero inline speed and can’t even gain momentum. He has shot like an overqualified beer league defense man, has zero speed and has some strength behind that will score him 2-3 fluke goals a year. His general hockey IQ is weak, he makes blind passes and he’s not accurate on most passes. He can push players out of the way, but if they have elusiveness, they can slide away from him. He is used as a sweeper in front of the net and he struggles at that. He at least is trying so I can give him that, but he just doesn’t have that skill set to make it far.” – TK

#2 D, Sam Dickinson, Canada Black, 6’3”, 195, L, DOB 06.01.2006

“Dickinson is a man amongst boys in this tournament. Each viewing I get on Dickinson has been impressive and has highlighted his foundation of tools that make him a high-end prospect. He does a bit of everything. An athletic kid who looks to have an iron lung and the ability to log major minutes and play in all situations for his team. He’s big and applies physical pressure in defensive zone areas. Uses his stick to angle out attackers and keep them at bay effectively. Defended the rush with tight gap control, but I noticed a few times he was exposed to outside-inside moves down the wing. Good job getting his body in shooting and passing lanes on the PK. Possesses the skating and mobility to lead the rush, close gaps quickly, and avoid pressure with his feet. Excellent power in his stride, can separate himself from forecheckers and complete controlled zone exits in his puck carrying ability. Will look to activate and join the rush and has the speed to get back defensively. If he isn’t using his feet to move the puck out from his end, he’s using his crisp passing ability and patience to move the puck. Terrific puck management in the defensive zone. Excellent breakout passing and smart reversals when he doesn’t have an outlet. Dickinson is willing to be a risk-taker on the offensive side of things, pinching and driving deep in the offensive zone looking to create offense. His hands are sneaky skilled and he can help drive the offense at 5v5. Dickinson’s game is incredibly advanced already and he shows to have a high ceiling of a potential #1 defenseman. “- JB

#20 C, Cole Beaudoin, Canada Black, 6’2”, 199, L, DOB 04.20.2006

“Beaudoin is a big kid with great transitional speed to play a fast north-south game. Makes his money through his skating and ability to be an offensive threat off the rush. Gathers speed quickly through his quick strong strides and mixes in a few crossovers. Has a pull-away separation gear. Utilizes his reach to carry pucks and protect them inside his hip pocket while driving inside the offensive zone. When he wasn’t the guy orchestrating the rush, he was good at using his speed off the puck to get behind defenders through the neutral zone. I did notice a bit of a need for better agility in small areas such as tighter button hooks and pull-ups. Another area of his game to work on is moving the puck quicker. He can hold onto pucks for a second too long. I’d like to see him work more give-and-go’s into his game. Beaudoin was flying around the ice all game long. Used his high-pace play to play with an aggressive puck pursuit. Applies solid pressure on puck carriers defensively and is willing to throw the body. Beaudoin has that speed-size combo that makes him a threatening player and a top prospect for 2024.” – JB

#16 C, Thomas Desruisseaux, Canada Black, 5’11”, 155, L, DOB 03.10.2006

“His play style was confusing to get a grasp on as at times you saw glimpses of a 200ft center, and other times he looked like he wanted to be more of a skilled player. He’s a smooth skater with quick feet. Can carry the puck up on arcs with linear crossovers, but he isn’t a burner. Was effective at times creating space in transition with or without the puck. Showcased good puck reception in stride through the neutral zone. Offensively showed a bit of finesse and creativity with the puck in the attacking zone. He’s willing to attempt risky, creative passes and plays toward the slot or front of the net. Displayed good puck skills but needed to be more consistent in his offensive play. In the defensive zone, he did a lot of circling and fishing for the puck along the boards. I’d like to see him commit to the check more along the boards and be more willing to fight for the puck. That being said, he didn’t fair well in physical battles and was outmuscled off the puck easily. Uses his stick to swipe and poke at pucks on the defensive end. Desruisseaux has offensive potential through his skating and puck skills.” – JB

#13 LW, Jordan Gavin, Canada Black, 5’11”, 143, L, DOB 11.13.2006

“For a former 2nd overall pick in the WHL Bantam Draft, this was an incredibly disappointing showing from a prospect who has received high praise throughout his young career. Gavin looked slow, lost, and unengaged throughout. His work ethic in the defensive zone was lethargic and he did not provide much defensive impact. He tries to get under and stick lift his opponents to strip them of the puck, but he was always a step behind them and couldn’t come away with the puck. Skates with quick feet but needs to add more power to have better straight-line acceleration and be quicker to his spots to earn more puck touches. His play reading was poor with his linemates. Struggled to find and slide into open spaces. Had a few good scoring chances that he couldn’t cash in on. I’m not sure what the hype is around him.” – JB

#9, RW, Justin Poirier, CANADA BLACK, 5’8”, 180, R, DOB 04.09.2006

“The first element of Poirier’s game I noticed was his phenomenal edge work. When he is protecting the puck, he uses his inside edges to eagle/mohawk turn to keep his body in between the puck and the attacker. He is able to use this skating technique at maximum speed. He is incredibly quick on the rush and loves to drive the net. His quick hands allow him to get to the net and force the puck inside. Poirier is definitely a shoot-first player and he had a boat load of shot attempts. He did miss the net quite a few times, but on his goal he certainly didn’t. Poirier was able to find himself wide open in the slot and recognize a passing lane from the opposite corner. He didn’t waste any time getting it to the net, one timing the puck into the top of the net with immense power. This shot came off of his stick like a bullet and was an impressive showcase of his scoring ability. When he is taking wrist/snap shots, he shoots with very exaggerated mechanics. He kicks his leg out very far and opens up his blade as much as possible as he is shooting. He did miss the net multiple times in this game, so being more decisive on his shot selection would benefit his game. Porier is a solid playmaker, able to use his edge work to draw defenders in and create passing lanes. He likes to drive the play into the zone himself, but let his team cycle in the zone so he can get open around the net. It is clear that Poirier has the potential to be one of the most lethal goal scorers in this draft class. Poirier is very quick to lose pucks and plays with a lot of intensity. Because he is a small player, he loses a lot of battles in the corners and along the boards. Pretty much all of his impact comes at the offensive end and on the scoreboard. He has great vision and awareness in the offensive zone, using his edges to quickly stop up and catch the defense flat footed. I think Poirier has the potential to be a first round pick in the 2024 Draft. Improvement on shot selection and rounding out his game will impact him in the long term.” – JS

#23, LW, Clarke Caswell, CANADA BLACK, 5’10”, 164, L, DOB 02.02.2006

“Caswell plays an NHL 3rd-liner type of game, he skates hard on the forecheck, battles hard in the corners, and he has good puck protection. He doesn’t have any noticeable flaws in his game, and he is a multi-dimensional player. He possesses a high hockey IQ as he was able to generate many turnovers by intercepting passes. Caswell was an important part of this team’s penalty killing unit as well. He was able to use his stick and body to get into passing lanes and clear loose pucks. Caswell plays with a lot of effort and tenacity, so he is an asset whenever he is on the ice. On top of his mature game, he is very skilled as well. He is a quick skater and he is able to attack the puck quickly. His speed allows him to beat the defenseman off the rush. Then he is able to use his hands to get the puck to the net. He definitely plays more of a “grind it out” game rather than an offensive game. It is rare to find a guy who can produce as much as he does and have him play in any situation. He’s tough in the corners and he attacks the stick relentlessly when he does not have the puck. Caswell is not a player you want to be up against in the corner or battling in front of the net. He is relentless on every play and he has no quit. Caswell won’t score you the fanciest goals, but he’ll help your team produce.  I can see Caswell as a potential late first round pick, solely because of where his ceiling is. This is a type of player who would likely end up playing in the middle 6 in the NHL.” – JS

#8, LW, Bode Stewart, Canada Black, 6’1”, 160, L, DOB: 02.09.06

“Bode uses his large frame to his advantage as he shields the puck from his opponents, but his acceleration is what caught my eye. Bode picked off passes in his defensive zone, before speeding up and blowing by the defenseman and getting a shot off. He used the forehand backhand technique on both breakaways that he had, showing off his puck control at high speeds. His anticipation was the reason for his being able to go on these breaks, he saw the puck coming to the defenseman and exploded up to try and pick off the pass. He needs to be careful doing this in case the defenseman is able to sidestep. For his stature he doesn’t have much weight behind him and that makes his physical game a weaker attribute. Although unlike some of his teammates, Bode’s defensive play doesn’t falter because of his lack of physicality, his compete level and stickwork makes up for it. As Bode gets older he’ll need to put on muscle and start playing more physically and not rely on his speed and skill to produce for him.” – TK

#17 C, Macklin Celebrini, Canada Black, 5’11”, 181, L, DOB 06.13.2006

“Macklin showed just how smart and creative he can be while remaining a dual threat to shoot or pass the puck. He was light on his feet, and showed that he can generate excellent speed when building off of his crossovers. He gets to a deceptively fast speed in a short distance and was able to quickly change directions as needed to get around defenders. His puck skill and control were one of the highlights of Macklin’s game. He displayed a little bit of you have to be lucky to be good and good to be lucky by just having the puck seem to follow him around. If it jumped away, there was no panic and he would simply poke and/or regain control and carry on. He carefully cradled the puck at both high and low speeds while using what size he has to shield and protect it. His passing was outstanding for the most part in this game. He seemed to mesh really well with Caswell and he often found him while on the attack with a clean pass that could be picked up and carried on with no issue. There were times where he would try and sneak passes through and try to get them to his teammates, but they occasionally would be picked off because his teammates were not expecting them and they were left in open ice for anyone to get. When this did happen, there was no show of frustration, he would just break free from his coverage, gather the puck up somewhere on the ice and go try again. His passes were excellent with both soft and sharp touches, and always easy to skate into or right on the tape. He displayed his excellent awareness and vision through his passing. The times Macklin took a shot he showed off his quick release that he likes to use. He loads his stick quickly and leans into his wrist shots allowing the whip to really get good velocity on the puck. His awareness in all areas of the ice was clear. He played a mature, two-way game where he could read plays that were developing for both his team and the opposition and insert himself right into the middle of them. While not a very physical player, Macklin did throw a couple of body checks that were noticed. He often would finish his check on the defender who had just tried or cleared his zone and he used his strength and balance to protect himself and the puck when he was in possession. Rarely knocked off of his feet, Celebrini was strong both physically and on his feet. Defensively is where I was surprised. Macklin played a mature game where he could read his defenders and automatically cover for them. He was often the first forward back to help out, and when in his zone, he would fill in any gaps that may have been left by his defenders who were battling for the puck. He wasn’t afraid to help out along the wall or in front of his net, and he showed that he is well rounded not only offensively but defensively as well. Macklin is already an often talked about name for the 2024 draft and I feel that tournaments like these will only help that grow. He was everywhere he needed to be all the time and was precise with almost everything he did. He has the skill set to become a top line player, and reminded me slightly of Patrice Bergeron in his style of play. He’s an A rated player already in my books and will be a top draft choice next year.” – MH