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 second part of this seven-part series we highlight the sixth place Canada White team that despite being competitive were only able to come away with one win.

#2 D, Henry Mews, Canada White, 6’0”, 174, R, DOB 03.09.2006

“Mews is a smooth skating smart offensive defenseman with great offensive upside. Henry was great on both sides of the ice. Defensively he’s able to retrieve contested loose pucks and calm the play down for his team. He shows a great first outlet pass to get out of the defensive zone and I really like how smart his decision making is. He doesn’t overplay the puck and is always ready to do the safe and smart play. He also shows good stick and body positioning to block passing lanes. Offensively Henry Mews is great. He is able to transition the play out of the defensive zone and carry the puck easily in the offensive zone with his great quick smooth skating and elusive hands. When accessing the zone Mews is able to attract players towards him to open up passing lanes. I also like how he recognizes to get back into position when giving the puck to his teammates. With his great aspects in his game, Henry is also able to quarterback the powerplay extremely well. I love how he walks the line and brings players towards him to open up passing lanes for his teams. He also shows a great accurate shot as well. With all of these skills combined Mews is a big threat offensively and can bring so much to the table for NHL teams looking to develop a future number 1 defenseman and power play specialist.” – MT

#4 D, Marek Howell, Canada White, 6’2”, 192, L, DOB 05.19.2006

“Howell was a defensive stalwart in this event and seemed to understand what his role and his identity were for his team. He’s a big strong defender who will play physical man-on-man in the dirty areas of the defensive zone. Has a bit of a mean bone in his body and will let his opposition know that he’s going to play them tough. Defensively is where his game stood out. He can play on the PK and be used in a shutdown role. Solid slot coverage, stopping pucks coming towards the net and clearing them away from danger quickly. Good gap control in his defensive zone coverage, moving out from his net to angle the puck carrier to the perimeter and give them little time and space to work with. Howell does a great job utilizing his long active stick to his advantage. He’s got the defensive stick and physicality you look for in a defensive defenseman. An average skater who I’d like to see be a bit more fluid on his feet. His mobility is fine but not great. Skates with long strides that can aid him in puck races. A couple of times he was caught a bit flat-footed defending the entry and if it wasn’t for his quick stick to poke the puck, his opponent would’ve been able to drive the net. Made some mistakes moving the puck and trying for stretch passes. Howell’s offensive game is simple. When he gets the puck at the blueline, he tries to get pucks on net but struggled to get his shots through consistently. Howell’s size and defensive presence will most likely be his calling card at the pro level.” – JB

#15 D, Spencer Gill, Canada White, 6’3”, 179, R, DOB 08.17.2006

“Gill is a good responsible defensive defenseman. At 6’3” Gill uses his frame well. He applies his physical aspect of his game in contested loose puck battles along the boards to retrieve possession for his team. He’s also really good at bringing incoming attacks to the boards to lay a hit and retrieve possession. When retrieving possession Gill shows extreme poise. He is able to calm the play down for his team and start an attack from the defensive zone. Though he isn’t the fastest skater, Gill is really strategic with the puck and makes safe and smart plays. He will do what he feels best to get the puck out of his defensive zone. Offensively Gill is fine. Spencer likes to join the rush and be that extra passing option for his team. He has good hands which enable him to create chances in the offensive zone but he needs to work more on his shot to really upgrade his game offensively. I would like to see a better quick release so he can get pucks on net and create scoring chances. Overall Gill possesses a lot of great defensive qualities that NHL teams would love to have. But he does have some aspects to work on to further improve his development but shows great potential.” – MT

#8 D, Frankie Marrelli, Canada White, 5’10”, 191, L, DOB 02.16.2006

“Marelli’s physicality stood out massively in this one. He brings an old-fashioned, tough-as-nails approach to the backend. He LOVES hitting and playing his opponent’s tough man-on-man. He’s not afraid to step up and throw a big hit at his blueline. Good active stick defending the rush. On a few occasions he could’ve tightened his gap control. A fierce competitor in battles along the boards and in front of his net. You can be assured that he will give you a few extra stick chops even after the puck is gone. Smooth back skater who isn’t quick but controlled on his inside edges to maintain his balance. His skating grades as average currently, he doesn’t have the quickness in his strides or power to separate himself while skating the puck out. Always looks for his defense partner or a forward to make a quick first pass too before getting caught by a forechecker. His passing game is simple when he’s the one breaking the puck out, but he consistently makes a good first pass. Offensively didn’t contribute too much but he was also tasked to defend a lot against the USA’s constant wave of attacks. His physical play was the only pro quality I saw in his game.” – JB

#22 C, Roger McQueen, Canada White, 6’4”, 182, R, DOB 10.02.2006

“McQueen’s shooting ability is one aspect that stands out to me greatly in his game. McQueen was able to get himself into high quality shooting areas and shoot effectively off of both wings. On the powerplay, he plays his right wing so he has to move the puck across his body before he can shoot. He does this incredibly smooth and he almost seems more dangerous from this wing as he is able to use his deceptiveness, the goalie doesn’t know when he will release the shot. McQueen also uses the curl and release shot a lot, and he is able to use this from anywhere in the offensive zone. The second largest part of McQueen’s game is his physicality and aggressiveness. He isn’t afraid to throw his body around. I like this aspect of his game because he is able to be a game changer in any situation and motivate his team, he doesn’t need his teammates to stand up for him. Players seem to bounce off of McQueen because of his large stature and strong stance. He also possesses great vision and he is able to make passes through opposing players. Though he likes to shoot a lot, he will pass when he sees a lane that will lead to a greater scoring chance. McQueen is a quality goal scorer with a high hockey IQ and vision on the ice. McQueen can be considered as a 1st round pick for the 2024 NHL Draft.” JS

#21 RW, Ryder Ritchie, Canada White, 5’10”, 157, R, DOB 08.03.2006

“Ritchie I found was one of Canada White’s most consistent forwards. He’s a quick skating threat that boasts good top-end speed once he gets going. He can handle and carry the puck through the neutral zone and be the drop pass option for the PP. Also displayed shifty footwork in his ability to work 10-2’s in his skating. Showed a tendency to take the puck to the crease from behind the net and create havoc in front. In transition, he stuck to the outside, but in the offensive zone he was attacking the inside more which was a positive sight. Great power on his shot from the right-hand faceoff circle which rang off the post. Leaned into that shot to produce good downforce. Ritchie showed to have a soft touch to his short-range passing skills. Skated with good energy on the forecheck on occasion and I’d like to see this more consistently throughout a full 60 minutes.” – JB

#10 LW, Justin Carbonneau, Canada White, 5’11” 163, R DOB 11.25.06

“Carbonneau was hustling every time he touched the ice. His forecheck was outstanding and caused multiple turnovers that led to scoring chances, unfortunately the lack of cohesion on Team White prevented Carbonneau from having multiple points. Carbonneau drove the net hard on his chances and was one of the few smaller players to play physically in the offensive zone. He has a lightning quick release on his shot that he needs to get more of a chance to use. His finishing ability will need to get better, which will come with a stronger, more accurate shot. With the speed Justin has, his puck control does suffer as he can lose the handle when he tries to make a move around a defender. Although with his anticipation and dog on steak forecheck he doesn’t need to make moves as he routinely was picking off passes and transitioning to offence. He has remarkable speed and stamina.  His defensive play will be highlighted always by his ability to pick off passes, but he isn’t afraid to get in the dirty areas either. Carbonneau has a bright future in any league if he continues to compete at the level he does.” – TK

#14 RW, Miguel Marques, Canada White, 5’10”, 170, R, DOB 03.08.2006

“Marques had a poor performance and struggled. He’s a fast straight-line skater he can utilizes his speed to race after pucks and pressure defenders on retrievals. I would’ve liked to see that same speed in his puck carrying through the neutral zone but that just wasn’t the case in this one. He was finishing his checks quite consistently. He played more physical than I’ve seen in the past. Probably out of frustration with how the game was going. Marques was swallowed up along the boards far too often resulting in loss of possession and turnovers in the offensive zone. He’ll want to get stronger and heavier on the puck to withstand contact and maintain the puck in these small spaces. He struggled to gain time and space to make plays with the puck which severely impacted his offensive play.” – JB

#19 C, Eliot L’Italien, Canada White, 6’1”, 184, L, DOB 03.23.2006

“L’Italien played an extremely mature 200ft game with excellent defensive engagement and positioning. Good above puck positioning and places himself regularly on the defensive side of the puck. Skates hard on the backcheck and forces puck carriers to the outside for them to dump the puck in. Showcased sound defensive awareness in his own end. Protected the middle of the ice and did a great job keeping play to the outside. Assisted his defensemen out in board battles in the dirty areas. Had a couple of big-time blocked shots showing his commitment to playing a “team-first” game and sacrificing his body. His skating is good with improvements to be had in his first few strides. He’s strong on his skates and when given a bit of space, can build up decent top speed with linear crossovers to carry the puck up ice. He’s got an upright skating style which I believe is the main clog in affecting his first few strides. His passing in tight and in small areas was good. Showed a soft touch in delivering short-range passes. Quick decision making inside the home plate area with the puck on his stick, either delivered the puck quickly off his stick with a shot toward the net or with a quick pass. He didn’t impress me with a high level of skill but his maturity and defensive presence were very noticeable.” – JB

#11 RW, Jaxsin Vaughn, Canada White, 6’1”, 192, R, DOB 01.10.2006

“Vaughn has the potential to be an energetic, bottom six player at the next level. Vaughn filled his role perfectly as a support player. He is very tough along the boards and in the corners. He will never give up on the play and keeps battling. Vaughn is also a threat on the penalty kill. He plays relentlessly on the penalty kill and he isn’t afraid to dive in front of shots. He also has great hand eye coordination, able to knock pucks down to gain control or bat the puck out of the air to get it out of the zone. Vaughn is a quick skater and he is quick to get into the play. He skates hard into the boards and up the ice on the forecheck and backcheck. He skates with a very low stance that allows him to get into tight spaces and push through players. Vaughn also has a physical aspect to his game. He isn’t afraid to get physical during scrums or throw some hits in the corner. He also tends to participate in pushing and shoving after whistles. Overall, I really like Vaughn’s game as a support player, he allows higher skilled teammates to do their thing. This lowers his ceiling at the next level, but he is an effective player in this position. There are some awareness issues in his game, but Vaughn always gives 110% effort on his shifts. He likes to be constantly moving around the zone and getting open. Vaughn does not have the potential, as of now, to be a top potential pick in the 2024 draft, but I could see him being a solid pick up in a later round.” – JS

#7 LW, Bill Zonnon, Canada White, 6’2”, 179, L, DOB 10.03.2006

Zonnon didn’t seem to play a lot, but he was impactful on most of his shifts. There’s a lot to like in his game and his play creation. He’s got good skill handling the puck and is a terrific puck distributor. He hit his teammates’ tape on about every pass and did so in all three zones. His vision is above average which is a major asset to his passing game, but he also made smart passes and would wait that extra second hanging onto the puck for his teammates to get into position. An effective give-and-go passer. In the offensive zone and on the PP, Zonnon showed great playmaking toward the interior parts of the ice to set up scoring chances. Played primarily as a playmaker rather than a shooter. Very smooth and composed puck handler. Understands how to use his reach and body to protect the puck along the outskirts and maintain puck possession. Constantly moves his feet when having possession of the puck. He’s a very fluid skater with good edge control to help him control his speed well. His footwork is very good for his size. He got a little chippy after whistles on a few occasions, chirping the other team, and he threw the odd hit here and there. Defensively he did not provide much impact except for making clean passes from his wing to help exit the zone. Zonnon’s toolkit is extremely intriguing.” – JB