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2016 World Selects Invitational: Top '01 Defensemen

Many of the top 2001-born hockey players in the world converged on Voorhees, NJ for the 2016 World Selects Invitational last weekend. It was a remarkable display of hockey talent.

There were more high-end forwards than defensemen, but there were still several defensemen that were very good.

Here's a look at the top blue liners from the four-day event, with players broken down into A, B and C prospects. Players are listed in alphabetical order, within their grouping.

‘A' Prospects

Philip Broberg#5 Sweden Selects, Shoots Left, Orebro, Sweden, 6'1"/185 -€” He's very solid overall. He makes strong plays defensively and has tight gaps. He's athletic and aggressive. He's poised and he's fast to pucks.

Spencer Cox, #77 Hockey Essentials, Shoots Left, Dayton, Ohio, 6'0"/165 -€” His team wasn't very good, but he was the best defenseman on it. He's not flashy, but he's smooth and skates well. He was steady and is a prospect to watch as he develops further.

Grayson Ladd, #5 TPH Hockey, Shoots Right, Chatham, Ontario, 5'10"/140 -€” He handles himself with maturity on the ice. He makes crisp passes, has poise and plays a simple but impactful game. He makes smart and heady breakout passes. He distributes the puck quickly and accurately. He has a high hockey IQ, a hard shot and picks his spots wisely.

Jan Micak, #3 Czech Selects, Shoots Left, Prerov, Czech Republic, 5'11"/154 -€” He's not flashy so it took a little while to truly appreciate just how good he is. He gets his stick in passing and shooting lanes. He plays the body and rides opposing forwards to the outside. In the All-Star game, he made a great play on Jamieson Rees. He has a good stick. He's not fast in terms of joining the rush or carry the puck up ice, but he's fast on pucks and staying with opposing forwards. His closing speed is superb.

Evan Orr, #12 West Coast Selects, Shoots Left, Detroit, Mich., 5'7"/130 -€” His stock went up the more and more you watched him. He was terrific in the All-Star game, joining the rush to tip home a centering feed on one odd-man opportunity. He has a quick stick and a deceptively hard shot. He's definitely an offensive-minded defenseman. He's a good skater who gets to pucks quickly. He generates possession in more ways than one.

Lucas Peric, #44 East Coast Selects O, Shoots Left, Georgetown, Ontario, 5'11"/155 -€” He was without a doubt one of the best skaters among blue liners here. He can push the puck up ice and move it around the offensive zone from the point. He stepped in to rip a slap shot for a goal. He's aggressive and has an active stick. He can walk the blue line and carry the puck up ice. His positive impact on his team's possession cannot be stated enough.

Nathan Staios, #44 Oshawa Generals, Shoots Left, Oakville, Ontario, 5'8"/147 -€” He was one of the best defensemen here. He's on the smaller side, but he's very fast, retrieves pucks, makes quick decisions and breaks the puck out of his own zone with precision. He's just very solid in all three zones and in all phases of the game.

Jayden Struble, #13 Northeast Elite, Shoots Left, Cumberland, RI, 5'11"/170 -€” He's an elite skater who is a very good overall athlete. He played in the Little League World Series a few years ago. He has recovery speed that allows him to take risks. He has a cannon of a shot and makes crisp passes. He's smooth and will continue to get better.

Ethan Szmagaj, #61 East Coast Militia, Shoots Right, Canton, Mich., 5'9"/155 -€” He's a competitor that quickly became one of this observer's favorite players to watch on the week. He's smooth, retrieves pucks, can skate out of trouble, has good vision and makes nice breakout passes.

Michael Vukojevic, #51 Oshawa Generals, Shoots Left, Oakville, Ontario, 6'2"/185 -€” He's a good sized defender with strong footwork. He moves well, is strong on gaps and stands his ground defensively. He keeps the play moving by moving the puck quickly.

Hunter Weiss, #26 West Coast Selects, Shoots Left, Chicago, Ill., 6'2"/175 -€” He has a pro body with a long reach which allows him to contain opposing forwards. He's smooth and moves the puck quickly from the top of the point on the power play. He knows what to do with the puck before it gets to him, whether he's going to take the shot or make the extra pass. His footspeed should improve as he grows into his frame.

‘B' Prospects

Anthony Aguanno, #77 Oshawa Generals, Shoots Left, Mississauga, Ontario, 5'10"/173 -€” He's aggressive and likes to step into the offense. He makes quick, impactful outlet passes.

Klim Georgev, #71 East Coast Selects O, Shoots Left, Tottenham, Ontario, 6'2"/200 -€” His good size and ability to jump into the offense are intriguing. He finished a two-on-one by keeping up to the puck. He skates well for a big guy and has a physical side.

Connor Guyette, #3 Northeast Elite, Shoots Left, Waterbury Center, Vt., 5'11"/200 -€” He's a great athlete who performed very well in combine testing. He pushes the pace in transition, skates well and impacts possession positively. He's sometimes a little careless, but he is a good enough skater to recover.

Ville Heinola, #28 Finland Selects, Shoots Left, Finland, 5'11"/160 -€” He's steady and consistent. He's strong on gaps and has a good stick for pokechecks. He moves the puck well from the top of the point in the offensive zone and can also carry the puck out of trouble in transition.

Alexandre Hogue, #48 East Coast Selects Q, Shoots Left, Embrun, Ontario, 5'8"/165 -€” He's a smooth, mobile defender that makes quick decisions with the puck. He's poised and makes smart outlet passes. He exudes confidence on the ice. He's the type of player that would really benefit from taking the college route instead of the OHL.

Mason Howard, #10 Oshawa Generals, Shoots Left, London, Ontario, 6'1"/185 -€” He's a good skater that likes to join the rush. He did a good job breaking up plays with his stick in lanes. He steps up and is aggressive. He has a good shot from the point and has a rugged frame.

Sergei Ianevskii, #2 Russia Selects, Shoots Left, Kazan, Russia, 6'2"/185 -€” He has a frame way beyond his years. He's solid, has a good stick and moves the puck.

Matej Ilencik, #6 Czech Selects, Shoots Left, Puchov, Czech Republic, 6'0"/165 -€” He's quick to retrieve pucks and makes a good outlet pass. He liked to pinch and stay connected with the puck.

Onni Korkka, #9 Finland Selects, Shoots Left, Lukko, Finland, 6'0"/160 -€” He's a smooth operator of the puck that will be a good power play quarterback. He's mobile. The only thing keeping him off the ‘A' list is his reads weren't as strong as those ranked above him.

Simon Kubicek, #5 Czech Selects, Shoots Right, Jindrichuv Hradec, Czech Republic, 5'11"/143 -€” He's physically mature for his age. It showed on one huge hit he delivered along the wall in back of his own net. He had a heavy slap shot from the point, a good stick and was physical.

Paul Letto, #4 Bauer Selects, Shoots Left, Schaumburg, Ill., 5'10"/165 -€” He's an offensive minded defenseman that skates well and can carry the puck up ice and start possession in the offensive zone. He made a couple of nice pokechecks to break up plays.

Simon Mack, #4 East Coast Selects Q, Shoots Right, Brockville, Ontario, 5'8"/155 -€” His patience and poise with the puck is the first thing that jumps out. He's comfortable pinching, knowing he has the skating ability to recover. He's an offensive-minded defenseman who likes to join the rush. His footwork and smooth stride are evident from just a few viewings.

Mason Millman, #12 Power One Capitals, Shoots Left, London, Ontario, 5'11"/155 -€” He had good gaps, shut down one Graeme Clarke on a one-on-one opportunity and skated well enough to join the rush at the other end.

Michael Palandra, #19 ProHockey Conacher, Shoots Right, Markham, Ontario, 5'11"/165 -€” He has very good agility and was able to impact zone entries. He can cut well on his edges. His ability to move the puck up ice was evident. He'll be a go-to blue liner in power play situations. His footwork was strong. He moved the puck precisely and made a few nice pokechecks.

Duncan Penman, #7 Oshawa Generals, Shoots Left, Oakville, Ontario, 6'0"/175 -€” He's a mobile defender who made firm outlet passes. He's tough, he made a huge open ice hit in the game against Northeast Elite. He made a great home run pass to set up a scoring chance and has good closing speed.

Daniel Poizi, #7 Czech Selects, Shoots Left, Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic, 5'10"/161 -€” He had a good first step and quick feet. He walked the blue line, got shots on net from the point, and had overall strong agility. He made a couple of good pokechecks as well.

Ashton Reesor, #4 ProHockey Pearson, Shoots Left, Markham, Ontario, 6'2"/179 -€” He has good size and made a couple of real nice looks at both ends of the ice. He hit an open teammate on the weak side for an easy score on the power play and also made a highlight reel home run pass in transition.

Parker Tallman, #11 East Coast Selects Q, Ingleside, Ontario, 5'11"/170 -€” He flies under the radar a little because he isn't too flashy. He's a solid defenseman who made a couple of good plays one-on-one, shutting down opposing forwards.  He's tight on gaps and does a good job forcing the play to the perimeter.

‘C' Prospects

Tyler Amaral, #8 Bauer Selects, Shoots Left, Mississauga, Ontario, 5'8"/150 -€” He's a good skater who retrieves pucks and makes quick decisions with the puck on his stick. He also did a nice job of reading plays.

Nick Andrews, #5 East Coast Militia, Shoots Left, Canton, Mich., 5'8"/162 -€” He's an offensive defenseman that showed some good signs here. He's mobile, made a couple of nice looks in transition and shot the puck with purpose from the point. He had a good stick and made a couple of nice plays to breakup scoring chances for the opposition.

Simon Belanco, #31 DHI Octane, Shoots Left, Ancaster, Ontario, 6'0"/170 -€” He's rugged, had good gaps and stopped plays before they developed into his own zone. He also showed the ability to skate out of trouble.

Jackson Cook, #37 Jr. Lions, Shoots Right, Montreal, Que., 5'9"/135 -€” He was solid defensively, able to skate the puck up ice on breakouts and contributed offensively.

Derek Costanzo, #3 Hockey Concepts, Shoots Right, Scotch Plains, NJ, 5'11"/180 -€” He was an offensive-minded defender with decent mobility. He was tough to knock off pucks and liked to throw his weight around.

Marcus Gretz, #55 Bauer Selects, Shoots Left, Albuquerque, NM, 6'0"/180 -€” He's a good-sized defenseman that steps up and forms tight gaps. He had strong recovery speed.

Thomas Harley, #48 ProHockey Pearson, Shoots Left, Syracuse, NY, 6'0"/160 -€” He had tight gaps and liked to step up and be aggressive.

Sean Henry, #17 TPH Hockey, Shoots Left, White Lake, Mich., 6'0"/188 -€” He has good size and hands for a blue liner. He made a nice finish on a play where he had joined the rush. He has length, made a couple of solid plays defensively and closed lanes. He's more of a project, but he has the physical tools to make him intriguing.

Jayden Jensen, #5 East Coast Militia, Shoots Right, Marengo, Ill., 6'4"/190 -€” He's a good size defenseman that skated well and his reach prohibited opposing forwards from advancing into scoring areas.

Mike Koster, #4 DHI Octane, Shoots Left, Chaska, Minn., 5'10/150 -€” An offensive defenseman, he had good footwork. He made quick decisions with the puck and showed good hands.

John Larkin, #58 West Coast Selects, Shoots Left, Detroit, Mich., 5'11"/165 -€” He can skate out of trouble. He's confident with the puck and likes to join the rush. His gap control was decent.

Atso Lehtinen, #44 Finland Warrior Stars, Shoots Left, Hämeenlinna, Finland, 5'9"/163 -€” He did a good job of closing off passing and shooting lanes. He had a strong stick and won a few battles for loose pucks.

Brandon Kischnick, #2 DHI Octane, Shoots Right, Troy, Mich., 5'6"/135 -€” An undersized defenseman, he's steady. He got shots on net from the point and had a good stick. He made a couple of nice plays to start the transition. His skating ability, despite his lack of size, allowed him to keep opposing forwards to the outside.

Kevin McKay, #6 Northeast Elite, Shoots Left, Franklin, Mass., 6'0"/185 -€” He's a good skater with strong closing and recovery speed. He made a great play to rush back to break up a two-on-zero.

Ryan O'Rourke, #84 ProHockey Pearson, Shoots Left, Pickering, Ontario, 5'11"/150 -€” He's smooth for a player his age and size. He had a few good breakout passes. He's a defenseman who can skate well enough to impact breakouts and zone entries at the other end. He had decent footwork and a hard one-timer.

Andy Perrott, #24 West Coast Selects, Shoots Right, Detroit, Mich., 5'11"/185 -€” His play got better as the week went along. His skating and vision are both above average. He made a couple of strong breakout passes and can also carry the puck up ice. He had a physical side, which showed as he gained confidence in his play.

Anthony Sousa, #7 Jr. Lions, Shoots Left, Montreal, Que., 5'6"/145 -€” He's small, but had good footwork and holds his own defensively due to his strong stick and mobility.

Justin Stringer, #27 Jr. Lions, Shoots Right, Montreal, Que., 5'9"/140 -€” He's mobile and had a good one-timer. He forced rebounds with strong, low shots on net from the point.

Javier Ubarri, #77 DHI Octane, Shoots Right, Glenview, Ill., 6'0"/170 -€” He had decent mobility. He took time to let the play come to him. He made a couple of nice outlet passes. He kept the puck moving.

Caleb Woodin, #7 Hockey Concepts, Shoots Left, Hingham, Mass., 6'3"/170 -€” He's still raw, but there's a few parts to his game that are intriguing. He has good size and is a player to watch for the future.

Mark Woolley, #94 ProHockey Conacher, Shoots Left, St. Thomas, Ontario, 6'2"/180 -€” He's smooth and had a knack for the offensive side of the puck. He laid out an opposing player with a huge, legal hit in open ice. He's strong enough that he can move the puck even when hindered by opposing players.