November was moving month for the 2007 group as we had a chance to see most of the top end talent faceoff at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
With so many direct comparisons among players from different regions there was a lot of shuffling at the top of the rankings board. The tournament provided more clarity on the cream of the crop in this age group. Certain players solidified themselves as elite talent where other high pedigree players fell backwards into the mix.
New 5 Star
A whopping five players who impressed us at the tournament jump into the 5-star ranks for us this month. We start with defender Charlie Trethewey who dominated on the scoresheet with 10 points in seven games which was tied for second most in the tournament and lead all defencemen by a wide margin. His poise and intelligence with the puck are a treat to watch. He isn’t the flashiest or most dynamic skater but his decision making and problem-solving instincts result in consistent scoring chances. He jumps from 35th to 16th and if he continues his stellar offensive play throughout the year, he has the potential to rise even higher.
Quinn Beauchesne was another player who impressed despite only playing in three games before a wrist injury knocked him out of the tournament. The Canada Red captain showcased an effortless stride and consistent poise defensively that we think will play well at higher levels. Hopefully the injury doesn’t set him back in development as it felt like he was just hitting his stride.
Sticking with Canada Red defencemen, Owen Conrad was a player who seemed to get better in every outing as he adjusted his risk/reward dial against the calibre of talent at this tournament. At his best he is a dynamic and game-breaking talent who can create opportunities out of thin air. I’m not sure there was a better defenceman at identifying stretch pass opportunities in the tournament. His continued improvement defensively and in his decision making see him rise from 44th to 23rd.
Rounding out the quartet of new 5-star defenders is team USA’s Asher Barnett. He’s smart, simple, steady, and was really relied on to defend against some of the best the other nations had to offer. He won’t blow you away with skill, but his defensive instincts are already finely tuned.
Team USA forward Jacob Kvasnicka is our final addition to the 5-star ranks, sneaking in at 32nd, up from 50th in October. He also had a short tournament, getting injured after only three games, but in those games, he potted four goals and six points while showing his trademark intensity and grit.
It may seem odd to call a player who only jumped up six places a “riser”, but Cole Reschny’s move from 10th to 4th speaks more to the quality of his play than the magnitude of his rise. He was undoubtedly one of the best players at the tournament showcasing elite vision and creativity and is one of the top offensive threats the age group has to offer. He is a true line driver and is someone I expect will be a hot commodity in his draft year.
We have two new additions to the top ten as Canada White linemates Caleb Desnoyers and Emile Guite dominated during stretches and carried the team to a gold medal. Desnoyers played outstanding two-way hockey at the centre-ice position. His ability to dictate the pace of play and be the focal point of possession elevated everyone around him and led to waves of pressure. Guite was most often the player to turn that extended offensive zone into goals as he led the tournament with seven goals in eight games showcasing his elite release and goal scoring instincts. Their comfort level playing together stems from their minor hockey days in Saint-Hyacinthe but both are close to a point per game in the QMJHL this year and are rising talents in this age group.
A little further down our rankings, we saw big jumps from Peyton Kettles who moves from 117th to 77th and Xavier Villeneuve who checks in at 94th, up from 133rd. They came in as two of our lower ranked players at the tournament yet both played major roles for their teams and thrived against an extremely high calibre of opposition. Kettles physical tools stand out immediately, the mobility and athleticism he shows for his size is impossible to teach. He’s starting to put his tools together into a cohesive package and he has a sky-high ceiling if he can continue to develop. Villeneuve is a jitterbug on the back end, showing an elusiveness and unpredictability that makes him impossible to lock down.
Check out the full 2007-born player rankings.