The World Junior Summer Showcase begins today in Plymouth, MI, with Red Wings prospects Joe Veleno, Jonatan Berggren, Jesper Eliasson and Otto Kivenmaki taking part in the on-ice activities.
I’m legitimately bummed that I get to go on vacation this year because the hockey is absolutely excellent at the WJSS, and it’s just neat to be able to talk to the Wings’ top prospects as well as top NHL prospects (top picks galore from both the 2019 and 2020 draft are participating in the event) for a full week.
The fact that you get to rub shoulders with a who’s who of NHL scouts and GM’s doesn’t hurt, either (the last time I went to the WJSS, I spent the week sitting behind Keith Tkachuk and Adam Foote).
Vacation is wonderful–I’ve been going up to Grand Marais with my family for 30 of my 41 years on this planet, and I’ve been to Grand Marais every year of my life–but the competitiveness of the WJSS is second only to the World Junior Championship itself, if not the Red Wings’ prospect tournament, and the more competitive hockey you can see, the better.
MLive’s Ansar Khan examines the field of Wings prospects participating in the WJSS this morning, and Wings assistant GM Ryan Martin does not undersell the event:
“I think it’s one of the most competitive under-20 evaluation environments outside of the World Juniors,” Red Wings assistant general manager Ryan Martin said. “It’s always very competitive and highly organized and structured as compared to regular summer hockey. These players, in most cases, are trying out for their respective country’s team. I think that brings out the best in people.
“I know, as being a member of the U.S. evaluation staff for the last several years, this is a big part of our evaluation process. Certainly not the only piece, as we get out and watch these players throughout the fall and then into the winter camp before the tournament, but this is certainly a big piece of that.”
Khan’s profiles include new quotes from Martin as well:
Joe Veleno, Canada
Drafted: 30th in 2018
2018-19: Drummondville (QMJHL)
Veleno, one of the Red Wings’ top prospects, had a dominant season in juniors (42 goals, 104 points in 59 games) and is ready to turn pro. He’ll be competing for an NHL job in training camp but barring a rash of injuries and an exceptional showing, he appears destined to start the season with the Grand Rapids Griffins.
“He’s made the commitment to be in Detroit and train with some of his fellow pros and he’s really putting in the time,” Martin said. “I think his expectation is he’s going to be competing for a job in Detroit, but if he’s not ready for that we want what’s best for his development. We have a real good option to put him down in Grand Rapids. We’re going to be a young team down there. Our centers are young, so that’s an opportunity for him to play a lot of minutes in a lot of different situations down there. That’s what the American League is for, development.”
Continued, and I sincerely hope that as many of you as possible get to go to USA Hockey Arena to take in the hockey and atmosphere at the WJSS.