Beginning Friday afternoon in Penticton is the 6th annual Young Stars Classic which features the top prospects of the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets playing in a round robin format.
The tournament is a highlight for hockey fans as it’s seen as the unofficial start of the NHL hockey season and allows everyone to get a glimpse of the players that may make up their favourite team in a few years.
This year is no different for fans, as the Canucks roster will feature some players that should make up huge parts of the team in a few years. Players like Thatcher Demko, Olli Juolevi, and Troy Stecher will be making their first appearance in Canucks colours.
Brock Boeser, Adam Gaudette, and William Lockwood will not be able to attend due to NCAA regulations. With the exception of Lockwood, the entire 2016 draft class of the Canucks will be in attendance.
|Calgary vs Winnipeg||Fri, Sep 16||4:00 PM|
|Vancouver vs Edmonton||Fri, Sep 16||7:30 PM|
|Calgary vs Edmonton||Sat, Sep 17||7:30 PM|
|Vancouver vs Winnipeg||Sun, Sep 18||2:00 PM|
|Edmonton vs Winnipeg||Mon, Sep 19||11:00 AM|
|Vancouver vs Calgary||Mon, Sep 19||3:00 PM|
Canucks players to watch
Demko will be making his first appearance in game action for the Canucks after a very successful NCAA career, which saw him post careers highs in goals against average, save percentage, wins, and shutouts, for which he set a new school record.
The young netminder will look to translate that success to the professional ranks this upcoming season, and it starts in Penticton. Patience will be needed as it will take some time for him to adjust to the AHL next season, but all signs point to the Canucks having the best netminder at Young Stars this year.
Selected 5th overall this past June, Olli Juolevi comes to Penticton as the highest drafted Canucks prospect since Daniel and Henrik Sedin in 1999. Being taken so highly comes with a lot of pressure, but you won’t have to worry about that with the Finnish born rearguard. Juolevi plays a cool, calm, and collected game that will translate very well to the NHL in a few years.
For this year, Juolevi will look to learn as much as possible at his first professional camp and take that back to London in the OHL. However, he could very well challenge for a full time NHL roster spot in 2017-18.
Signed as a free agent from the University of North Dakota, Richmond native Troy Stecher is a player that you should keep your eye on. Regarded as an offensive defenceman, Stecher has an innate ability to create offence out of nothing.
He’ll hold onto the puck, dance around defenders, and creates lanes for his teammates. He possesses a skill-set that the Canucks lack, and if injuries plague the Canucks this upcoming year, Stecher could very well see a couple of games with the big club this season.
Other players to watch
Aided by the fact that all four teams selected in top-6 this past draft, this year’s Young Stars tournament will boast some serious depth of talent.
The Flames will have Matthew Tkachuk, who was selected with the pick right after the Canucks took Olli Juolevi. The Oilers will have fourth overall pick Jesse Puljujarvi there, while the Jets will have a plethora of talent with first round picks Kyle Connor, Logan Stanley, and Jack Roslovic suiting up.
Unfortunately second overall selection Patrik Laine will not be playing for Winnipeg, as he is currently representing Finland at the World Cup of Hockey.
If you are unable to make it up this year, I highly recommend making a plan to make the trip up next season. The hockey is extremely entertaining, the South Okanagan Events Centre is a great facility, and the weather is always fantastic.
Hockey season is here!