The World U18 Championships are often the final check for NHL scouts on players prior to the NHL Draft. There are usually never any major surprises after an entire year or more of scouting these players, but there are definitely a lot of incremental adjustments made as teams finalize their lists for this June's NHL Draft.
Here are some players that likely moved up lists thanks to a strong tournament, or moved down thanks to a poor showing at this year's tournament.
Logan Brown, F, USA(Central Scouting: 7th NA)-He's maybe not going to rise much from his Central Scouting position, which equates to about 10th overall, but he's definitely established himself as a guy that could go in the top 10. When I saw Brown back in late-December, he looked more like a mid-to-late first round draft choice with high potential, but not realized yet. He's starting to put the whole package together at this tournament though. His combination of size and passing ability is going to make him an effective playmaker at the NHL for a long time.
Clayton Keller, F, USA(Central Scouting: 9th NA)-I've been on this bandwagon for a while now, but if this tournament didn't convince people Keller could be a top-5 pick, then I don't know what will. He was the most electric, dynamic player in this tournament outside of maybe Jesse Puljujarvi in the final. He's a special offensive talent.
Tyson Jost, F, Canada(Central Scouting: 16th NA)/Dante Fabbro, D, Canada(Central Scouting: 18th NA)-This tournament was a golden opportunity for the two former first round WHL Draft picks to put to bed any skepticism about their abilities because they played in the BCHL this past season, and they took full advantage of it. Jost was clearly Canada's top forward at the tournament, while Fabbro was Canada's top defenseman. They've established themselves as definite mid-first round picks after this tournament.
Evan Fitzpatrick, G, Canada(Central Scouting 1st, NA Goalies) Technically there's not any room to move up when you're already ranked first, but there's still room for Fitzpatrick to move up within the draft itself. Fitzpatrick looked dominant for Canada early in this tournament and like a potential very good number one goalie, even though he's not the 6'5" behemoth the NHL seems to be trending towards. Some team might be interested in a goalie in the late first round, and Fitzpatrick could be that guy.
Adam Fox, D, USA(Central Scouting: 50th NA)-Fox became the NTDP's all-time assists leader at this tournament, which underscores what a terrific passer he is. He may not have the traditional physical gifts you'd like to see from a top pick defenseman, but his vision and playmaking abilities are elite. Pushing for the first round might be a stretch, but he should not last long into the second round.
Markus Niemelainen, D, Finand(Central Scouting: 52nd NA)-The big defender looked awkward and lanky in the early parts of the tournament, but he was brilliant on the last weekend, shutting down powerful attacks from the United States and Sweden. He's not a particularly dynamic player, but he showed potential as a shutdown defenseman once he fills into his frame.
JD Greenway, D, USA(Central Scouting: 121st NA)-I had all but given up on Greenway earlier this winter when I really questioned his ability to handle the puck under pressure. He's been a top pairing guy with Fox at this tournament though, and played really well, showing some real offensive presence(including but not limited to this dazzling short-handed goal). Some of that may be context. He was moving forward a lot more than he was moving backward playing on a dominant US squad and not facing the type of pressure he did against top D-1 college teams, and he did have some struggles with pressure in the Finland game. But the potential he is showing should move him up in the draft to the third-fourth round range.
David Quenneville, D, Canada(Central Scouting: 144th NA)-I hadn't seen Quenneville prior to this tournament and this was one of the few Central Scouting rankings that didn't make much sense to me. He's a 5'8" defenseman which means he's going to have to prove he can play, as opposed to a bigger prospect that will get every opportunity to prove he can't play. But he's been so good for Canada on the blue line at this tournament. He's got quick feet and handles the puck really well. He's been a big offensive presence on the Canadian blue line. His defense can be hit or miss--I mean that literally, he threw a couple big hits, but also had some major whiffs. He definitely looks like a strong mid-round pick with the hope that his defense can come around.
Eetu Tuulola, F, Finland(Central Scouting: 19th EUR)-Tuulola is a big-bodied power forward that can play a bit of a skill game while also using his size to be a net front presence. He didn't score a lot during the season in Finland, but in this tournament, he's had a few opportunities to show off his snap shot, which is really good.
Michael McLeod, F, Canada(Central Scouting: 13th NA)- McLeod is an intriguing prospect. He's big, he skates well, and he plays a really hard, high-energy game. There's a lot to like which is why some people even had him challenging for as high as fourth overall in the Draft. But the offensive production wasn't quite there during the regular season, and he's really struggled to score in this tournament too. McLeod will be a nice player at the NHL level, but without the offensive upside, it's hard to justify taking him in the first half of the first round of the Draft.
Chad Krys, D, USA(Central Scouting: 53rd NA)-Krys is an elite skater, which is why he started the year ranked solidly in the first round, but just hasn't developed the hockey sense to take better advantage of that ability. He wasn't necessarily bad at this tournament, but compare him to a guy like Adam Fox and there's no question which player you'd rather have.
Jesper Bratt, F, Sweden(Central Scouting: 17th EUR)-I really liked Bratt at the Ivan Hlinka when he was playing on a line with Alex Nylander and William Fallstrom, but wasn't a big fan of him at this tournament. Bratt is a small, speedy, skilled forward and can really shoot the puck. But I felt like he was neutralized too easily playing against more physical teams like the US and Canada. I'm just not sure how his game translates to the North American style.
James Sanchez/Trent Frederic/Will Lockwood(Central Scouting: 146/47/108)- Team USA's second line was pushed down to third line duty with the addition of Brown/Yamamoto/Mittelstadt to the roster, and they didn't really produce as hoped in that role. They padded their numbers against Latvia, but were a non-factor or worse in high-leverage situations.
Griffin Luce, D USA(Central Scouting: )-Mostly relegated to seventh defenseman duty in this tournament. Still a lot of tools there with his size, but he hasn't done much with them.