With the Tampa Bay Lightning in perennial contention for a Stanley Cup, the number of top prospects they have eligible to participate in the World Juniors dwindles every year. However, the Lightning will still be represented by two prospects at the World Junior Summer Showcase, an annual tournament where countries begin evaluating players who could play at the World Juniors in December.
The showcase will be hosted by the United States in Plymouth, Michigan from July 26th to August 3rd. Canada, Finland, and Sweden are the three other countries who will participate in the 12-game tournament.
Because the Lightning only have two prospects who were invited to play in the showcase, I decided to also include eligible prospects who were left off their team’s roster, as well as prospects we could see play in December from countries that don’t participate in the showcase.
U17: 2 A in 6 GP (won silver)
HG: 2 P in 5 GP (won gold)
Although Foote wasn’t invited to the summer showcase or Canada’s World Juniors selection camp last year, he’s had success representing his country internationally. Foote was part of the Canada Black team at the U-17s that won silver in 2016, and won gold at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup in 2017. He didn’t necessarily contribute offensively the way he’s done in major junior, and wasn’t invited to play at this tournament last year.
This will be Foote’s only opportunity to make Canada’s World Junior team (despite being a late-2000 birthday, he’s still in his final year of tournament eligibility). His past experience playing for Canada will be a factor, but Foote will have to prove that he can make more of an impact at the international stage, and having a larger offensive presence at the showcase will increase his chances to make the final team.
HG: 2 A in 5 GP (won gold)
Fortier and Foote were actually teammates on that gold-winning Hlinka-Gretzky team. However, that tournament was Fortier’s one and only experience representing Canada. Although he played in the Canada-Russia series last season, he was left off both Canada’s summer showcase roster and final selection camp roster.
Being named to Canada’s WJSS roster this year is a good indication that Fortier is on Hockey Canada’s radar for the 2020 tournament. At the very least, it’s a start. Like Foote, Fortier will have to separate himself from the rest of the pack, and his best bet is to put up points at the showcase.
The Lightning have two goalies who are eligible to represent Sweden at the World Juniors (and at the showcase) who weren’t named to the showcase roster. The Swedes brought three other goalies instead. Magnus Chrona was an extremely long shot, as he has never represented Sweden at any international tournament and had a rough season in Sweden’s junior league last season. Unless he has a lights-out start to his season in the NCAA, Chrona is probably too far off Sweden’s radar for the 2020 tournament.
On the other hand, Hugo Alnefelt, who was Tampa’s third-round draft pick this past June, has donned the Swedish jersey three times and played exceptionally well for them. Despite a forgettable 2-game stint at the U-17s where he posted a 5.00 GAA and a .867 save percentage (Sweden was eliminated in the quarter-finals), Alnefelt has a stellar record as Sweden’s starting goalie. He backstopped Sweden to a silver medal at the Hlinka-Gretzky tournament in 2018, posting a .922 save percentage, and led the team to a gold medal at the 2019 U-18s, with a .921 save percentage in five games. However, as a 2001-born player, Alnefelt’s appearance at the World Juniors will probably be in 2021, though it is possible he’s named to the 2020 Swedish team as their third goalie. Still, Alnefelt’s age is likely what kept him from being named to Sweden’s showcase roster.
Prospects Still WJC Eligible
Since the showcase is only a 4-country tournament, we aren’t able to see how teams like Russia, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia are evaluating eligible WJC players. However, there’s a chance we could see a couple more Bolts prospects at the eventual tournament in December.
Although Dmitri Semykin hasn’t ever represented the Russians at any international tournament, Russia tends to take a roster filled predominately of 19-year old players. That could potentially bode well for Semykin, especially if he has an impressive start to his season in the MHL.
Recently drafted prospect Maxim Cajkovic will likely be on the roster for Slovakia. Cajkovic has represented Slovakia twice at the U-18s, and once at the Hlinka-Gretzky tournament in 2018. He put up 11 points in five games as an underage player at the U-18s in 2018 and was a point-per-game player at the tournament the following year (seven points in seven games), despite Slovakia being relegated. Cajkovic was named to the team’s World Juniors roster in 2019, but was not registered as an active player at the tournament (likely because he was only 17 years old).
How To Watch
In the United States, the first six games will be streamed live on HockeyTV. NHL Network will pick up the last six games of the tournament. In Canada, TSN will air six games beginning on July 31st.
2019 WJSS Game Schedule
|July 26||USA Blue vs USA White||5:30 PM|
|July 27||USA White vs Finland||1:00 PM|
|July 27||USA Blue vs Sweden||4:00 PM|
|July 28||USA Blue vs Finland||1:00 PM|
|July 28||USA White vs Sweden||4:00 PM|
|July 30||Canada vs USA||4:00 PM|
|July 31||Canada vs Finland||1:00 PM|
|July 31||USA vs Sweden||4:00 PM|
|August 2||Sweden vs Canada||1:00 PM|
|August 2||Finland vs USA||4:00 PM|
|August 3||Sweden vs Finland||1:00 PM|
|August 3||USA vs Canada||4:00 PM|
All statistics from Elite Prospects. The tournament schedule is from USA Hockey.