Seven San Jose Sharks prospects, most in the NHL, recently took part in the World Junior Summer Showcase.
The WJSS, an opportunity for under-20 prospects to make their case for their national team’s roster at the upcoming World Junior Championships, was held in Plymouth, MI from Jul. 27 to Aug. 4. Team USA fielded two teams, Blue and White, and Sweden and Finland brought squads too.
Chris Peters, Steven Ellis, Sean Shapiro, and Keegan McNally spoke on each of the Sharks’ WJSS prospects, Will Smith, Quentin Musty, Cameron Lund, Eric Pohlkamp, Filip Bystedt, Mattias Havelid, and Kasper Halttunen.
Which Sharks defenseman really opened eyes? Also, everybody agrees that Smith and Bystedt stood out.
The San Jose Sharks’ recent fourth-overall selection took on a large role on USA Blue’s team, often playing on the top line and around wingers that have already played for USA at the WJCs. Chris Peters of FloHockey had this to say about Smith’s performance:
“A dynamic play-driving center who can play with anybody it seems, Smith is a good candidate to be USA’s No. 1 center if Logan Cooley remains unavailable. He looked good between Gauthier and Snuggerud. It seems like Smith is always going to have a few points here and there. He makes everyone around him better and makes defenders look silly on the regular. Smith finished camp with five assists.”
On the heels of an impressive development camp with the San Jose Sharks, Musty started slow during the tourney, but saved his best for last. Keegan McNally, who reviewed all the WJSS prospects on the San Jose Hockey Now Podcast, had this to say about Musty:
“That’s what Musty thrives on, his rush offense. He’s a perimeter player mostly… In juniors he would sometimes lag on physicality, at this one he would grind out pucks in the corner, and I really liked his game overall.”
Heading into his sophomore season at Northeastern, 2022 second-rounder Lund had a good opportunity to stand out for Team USA at this showcase. However, his performance was less impressive than many of the forwards at camp.
“He never really found his footing and ended up with no points in four games,” McNally shared. “He wasn’t that noticeable most of the time when he was on the ice. Sometimes, that’s what I saw in his NCAA tape too. He would fade, essentially. He wouldn’t consistently be pushing offense.”
Team USA, while solid up front, appears less established on their blueline for the 2024 WJCs. For 2023 fifth-rounder Pohlkamp, this opened an opportunity to play solid defense and hopefully earn a roster spot. Sean Shapiro of EP Rinkside had his eyes opened:
“On the defensive side, I really liked Pohlkamp’s game throughout the camp and he didn’t have any lulls or valleys over the showcase. A couple scouts in attendance at the camp noted similar things. The San Jose Sharks prospect went from an also-ran in my mind to a legit roster contender.”
Post-Showcase, Peters actually has Pohlkamp on his projected USA’s World Junior Championships roster.
Bystedt, who was already a mainstay in Team Sweden’s top-six at the last WJCs, continued to impress. He will surely make the roster again this season, and likely be the top center. On a recent episode of Locked on Sharks, Steven Ellis of the Daily Faceoff had this to say about Bystedt’s showing:
“When the puck was on his stick, it was working out. That was probably the best I’ve seen him play… He’s really hard to knock off the puck. He’s got good size, good speed. His hands look a lot better than they did two years ago, where I thought he wasn’t creative enough… He’s a bit faster, bit more deceptive now.”
Ellis added on the Daily Faceoff: “Bystedt’s mix of size and speed is solid, and I don’t recall seeing him playing with the high competitive pace we saw in Plymouth. Just imagine a top-three center lineup in San Jose with Smith, William Eklund and Bystedt. All the power, all the speed, all the skill. Good times are coming, Sharks fans.”
Havelid, due to injury, missed last year’s WJCs and a large chunk of his SHL season. Regardless, he is expected to make Team Sweden’s roster. Here’s what Steven Ellis said on Locked on Sharks:
“He took control from the opening faceoff,” Ellis shared. “I was there with Ryan Kennedy from The Hockey News, we were both like: ‘This guy looks like he’s playing a step above the rest.'”
Ellis shared he nearly considered Havelid a top-10 player at the tournament.
Halttunen, who will join the London Knights next season, played a large role for Finland during the tournament. But McNally was not impressed with his showing:
“Halttunen had been given a lot of ice time and a lot of power play. He was on the first line almost every game… got no points in the four games. When I watched him, [he] wasn’t doing a whole lot. He competes and it’s not like he’s lazy. The awareness of the play around him, is lacking.”
He continued: “There was multiple times where he was shooting and he needed to get it on net, and he’s trying to pick the corner. He shoots it, goes past the goaltender, off the boards and out. That happened multiple times when you really can’t have the puck leave the zone.”
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