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Thoughts on Young Stars Tournament

The Winnipeg Jets Young Stars lost a pair of games to the Vancouver Canucks prospects over the weekend.

2016 NHL Draft - Portraits
Logan Stanley poses for a portrait after being selected 18th overall by the Winnipeg Jets in round one during the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.
Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images

In a pair of games that qualified as a tournament in name only, the Winnipeg Jets Young Stars dropped a pair of decisions to their youthful counterparts with the Vancouver Canucks over the weekend.

The first of the two meetings took place on Friday, and saw the Jets trailing the Canucks 1-0 after one period, before an embarrassing six goals were allowed by Mikhail Berdin (who was pulled at 6-0) and Duncan McGovern in an eight shot span during the second period. The Jets ended up getting a pair of goals. The first came courtesy of Michael Spacek deking out the Canucks goalie to deposit it into the yawning cage, after Jansen Harkins separated his man from the puck below the Canucks’ red line and Kristian Vesalainen found Spacek wide open in the slot. The second was a tipped in effort by Jansen Harkins on a shot from Spacek, with Logan Stanley getting the other assist.

The final score was 8-2, with the Canucks out-shooting the Jets 40-23, as Winnipeg didn’t look like they belonged on the same surface as the Canucks for stretches of this game.

You can re-watch the game in its entirety here:

The second game seemed to be destined to be very similar to the first, with the Canucks scoring three times in the first period and the Jets failing to score. But the tide turned in the second, with the Jets bringing things level. C.J. Suess got things going by banging in a pass from Alexis D’Aoust after a Logan Stanley point shot ended up on his stick. D’Aoust scored a goal of his own after tipping a point shot from Krystof Hrabik, with Leon Gawanke getting the other helper. Things were then tied up when, after a prolonged possession in Vancouver’s end, Luke Green found Hrabik in the slot, whose shot was deflected in by Harkins.

Vancouver scored early in the third, and added an empty netter to make it 5-3. Moments later, C.J. Suess separated his man from the puck behind the Canucks net and Jimmy Huntington scored on a wrap-around to make it 5-4 with 40 seconds left. The Canucks added a second empty net goal to ice things with one second left, making the final 6-4. Definitely a better showing by Winnipeg on Sunday night.

Five Thoughts

  1. Jets 1st round picks fail to dominate: In “tournaments” (two teams does not a tournament make) like this, generally the highest draft picks of the respective teams tend to stand out a bit. While Kristian Vesalainen and Logan Stanley both got on the scoreboard with assists, neither showed any indication that they have what it takes to make the NHL this season. Of course, it’s the Young Stars tournament, and you can’t read too much into it.
  2. C.J. Suess plays a style of hockey I think most coaches would like: aggressive on the forecheck, an ability to separate players from pucks via checking and a good hockey sense that allows him to find teammates with passes and put himself in position to score. Intangibles!
  3. Mikhail Berdin failed to impress. Yes, the defence in front of him hadn’t played much together, but he wasn’t exactly bailing them out either. It’ll be interesting to see how he adapts to the pro game this year, as he is likely to start the year as Eric Comrie’s back-up with the Manitoba Moose.
  4. A tournament with two teams is not a tournament. Same thing goes for the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames having a tourney of two this weekend. Those four teams should really figure out a way to make this thing bigger again.
  5. Elias Pettersson and Jonathan Dahlen sure looked good on Friday night, as the pair of Swedes drew a bunch of comparisons to the Sedin twins. I think that’s pre-mature, as one game does not a Hall of Famer make, but they looked pretty good.
  6. Bonus thought! Of the players not drafted by the Jets or under contract, Alexis D’Aoust and Krystof Hrabik stood out.

D’Aoust, 22, had 21 points in 57 games with Utica in the AHL last year. I really liked his play on the puck and his ability to distribute.

Hrabik is a 6’4”, 218 lb force. At 18, he was actually one of the better players out there. He played for Bili Tygri Liberec in the Czech league last year, was part of the Czech World Junior team that came in fourth at last year’s tournament, and is slated to play with the Tri-City Americans of the WHL this year. It makes zero sense to me that this kid wasn’t drafted.