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Top prospects in August action

8/1/2012

On Saturday, Aug. 4, USA Hockey opens its world junior championships evaluation camp and hosts a mini-tournament with Finland and Sweden's under-20 teams. Starting Aug. 9, Canada and Russia will also begin a four-game series between their U-20 clubs, two in each nation, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Summit Series.

With so many future stars hitting the ice in the weeks ahead, this marks a good opportunity to take a closer look at some of the top drafted and draft-eligible prospects for national teams, starting with an American player who could challenge to be the top pick in the 2013 draft.

Team USA

Seth Jones, D, Portland (WHL)

2013 draft eligible

Jones may have been Team USA's best defenseman heading into the world juniors last January but an upper-body injury kept him out of the tournament. He's an elite thinker who is ridiculously advanced for a player his age. He also skates at a high-end level and has above-average offensive ability. He's currently the second-best prospect in the 2013 draft in my mind, behind Nathan MacKinnon, and should tear it up for Portland in the WHL next season. He will be a key piece for the U.S. world juniors team.

Steven Fogarty, C, Notre Dame (NCAA)

3rd-round pick, 2011 draft, New York Rangers

Fogarty was a key piece for the Penticton Vees' record-breaking season in which they won 42 consecutive games and 54 overall. He's a smart player with size and some puck skills whose development took off this year. At the start of the season, I heard from a scout who questioned Fogarty's two-way play. A month later the same scout called him the team's best defensive center. He could be a tad quicker, though.

Shayne Gostisbehere, D, Union College (NCAA)

3rd-round pick, 2012 draft, Philadelphia Flyers

Gostisbehere was on the all-rookie team in the ECAC last season and was a key piece to Union winning that conference. He has great hockey sense, showing poise as a puck mover who can quarterback a power play and make good reads in his end. He's small, but if Team USA feels it needs a defender who can be a significant starting point for the offense or a good power-play option, he may be in the discussion.

Ryan Hartman, RW, Plymouth (OHL)

2013 draft eligible

Hartman was second in the U.S. national team development program in scoring last season. He decided to move to the OHL this season after originally committing to play in the NCAA for Michigan. Hartman is a creative forward who makes plays to his teammates, has impressive puck skills, takes the body and has decent speed but could be a little faster for a smaller forward.

Team Canada

Charles Hudon, LW, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)

5th-round pick, 2012 draft, Montreal Canadiens

Hudon has been a noteworthy player in international play the past few seasons. He was invited as a 16-year-old to play for Canada at the U-18 world championships and was second in scoring at the Under-17 Challenge. He also led Canada in scoring at the Ivan Hlinka tournament last summer. He has high-end puck skills and hockey sense, and although he's small he can create a lot of offense. Considering his positive history with Hockey Canada, I wouldn't count Hudon out as a potential candidate for Canada's world juniors team.

Kevin Roy, C, Lincoln (USHL)

4th-round pick, 2012 draft, Anaheim Ducks

Roy, albeit in his second draft-eligible season, was the first 100-point scorer in the USHL since 1999. Roy has very good puck skills to go along with a fine on-ice work ethic, impressive instincts and good shot. With Canada potentially having a lack of skilled forwards at the world juniors -- if a few top players such as Jonathan Huberdeau and Mark Scheifele advance to the NHL -- Roy could be a player who figures into Canada's lineup.

Sean Monahan, C, Ottawa (OHL)

2013 draft eligible

Monahan enters his draft season as a prospect in the discussion to potentially be a lottery selection. He's a plus puck handler and thinker at both ends who projects as a solid physical player. He uses his body very well to protect the puck and can be a real handful for defenders. He can beat you with a skill play or an aware feed to a teammate or can lower his shoulder and beat a guy with a power move. His one flaw, in my opinion, is the lack of that top gear to blow by people. I don't think he's a bad skater, just not a particularly great one.

Hunter Shinkaruk, C, Medicine Hat (WHL)

2013 draft eligible

Shinkaruk was 12th in the WHL in scoring last season and, as of now, is a potential top-10 draft selection. He has tremendous hands, skates well and is a great finisher, although he's small and needs to bulk up quite a bit.

Team Finland

Markus Granlund, C, HIFK (SM-Liiga)

2nd-round pick, 2011 draft, Calgary Flames

Markus Granlund at times has lived in the shadow of his brother, Mikael, who is an elite prospect with the Minnesota Wild. However, Markus is a pretty good player who has above-average puck-possession abilities and is a better skater than his brother. With Mikael no longer eligible for U-20 play, it will be interesting to watch Markus in a leading role.

Aleksander Barkov, C, Tappara (SM-Liiga)

2013 draft eligible

Barkov has shown to be a unique prospect in Finland's top pro league. As a player who is two weeks removed from being in the 2014 draft, he played on Finland's world juniors team last season and logged 13:32 of ice time in the SM-Liiga last season at age 16. To put that in context, 2011 first-round pick Joel Armia, who played last season at 18 years old, logged 14:37 a game. Barkov is a fantastic playmaker and puck handler who has a chance to be a lottery pick, although his skating is a bit of a concern.

Artturi Lehkonen, RW, KalPa (SM-Liiga)

2013 draft eligible

Lehkonen was tied for Finland's top scoring title at the U-18 championships as a 16-year-old, finishing second overall in the tournament in scoring. He's undersized, but he's a really gifted passer who has above-average hands and speed.

Jusso Ikonen, LW, Blues (SM-Liiga)

2013 draft eligible

Ikonen is listed at 5-foot-7 and 161 pounds, and I've heard some scouts say the latter may be slightly overstated, but those same scouts still come away raving about Ikonen because of his talent level. He has high-end skill and is an extremely creative player to go along with good speed.

Rasmus Ristolainen, D, TPS (SM-Liiga)

2013 draft eligible

Ristolainen was one of Finland's top defensemen at the world juniors as a 17-year-old last season, and he will look to be a more impactful player at the U-20 level this season. He's not an overly flashy player but he has high-end hockey sense at both ends of the rink, plays his check hard and can be effective on the power play.

Team Russia

Nikolai Prokhorkin, C, CSKA (KHL)

4th-round pick, 2012 draft, Los Angeles Kings

Prokhorkin is a highly talented player who likely fell at the 2012 draft because of a lack of participation at international events and his nationality. He's an above-average puck handler and passer who flashes high-end ability in the latter. He's also a somewhat gritty player who can get the job done in his end.

Pavel Buchnevich, C, Almaz (MHL)

2013 draft eligible

Buchnevich was just about a point per game in his 16-year-old season in Russia's junior league, the MHL. That is a very impressive feat, and to put that in perspective Sabres prospect Mikhail Grigorenko and Bruins prospect Alex Khokhlachev are players who scored at lower rates in that league at the same age. Buchnevich is the sole 1995 birth date invited to Russia's camp, which may make him a bit of a long shot, but his high-end speed and puck skills could make him an appealing option.

Team Sweden

Elias Lindholm, C, Brynas (SEL)

2013 draft eligible

With the Swedish roster not yet finalized, we'll only focus on one player. Lindholm is the top Swedish prospect in the 2013 draft class and has a chance -- as of now -- to be a top-5 selection next June. He's a plus passer with impressive puck skills and skates at a desirable level. Even though he'll just be turning 18 prior to the world juniors, he could be a top-two line player for Sweden.

If you have any questions about any players profiled or not mentioned, feel free to leave a comment, and I will do my best to answer.