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HLINKA GRETZKY CUP – Tournament All Star Team – Honourable Mentions – 25 outstanding player performances

Tournament All-Star Team

F - Berkly Catton (Canada)

Catton was I think, clearly this tournament’s MVP. He did it all for Canada, playing in all situations, driving the offense and creating chances for himself or his linemates, and setting the tone for his team early in their games by throwing his weight around on the forecheck. You could also give him the nickname “captain clutch” for how often he scored timely goals in this tournament for Canada. Catton isn’t a big player playing down the middle of the ice. But he’s a high-end skater with plus-level vision, who brings competitiveness, and intelligent hockey to the forefront which complements his offensive tools. He finished with the tournament lead in goals with eight, showcasing his quick release and accuracy on midrange shots. With his plus-level vision comes the soft hands which allow him to make plays under/over sticks with confidence. There didn’t seem to be a pass he couldn’t make in this tournament.

F - Trevor Connelly (USA)

Early 2024 draft rankings are going to have Trevor Connelly skyrocketing up the boards after the tournament performance he put on for scouts. I’d rank him as the best skater in this tournament. He showcased terrific speed, mechanics, and edgework in his skating ability. He’s incredibly shifty and evasive through his edgework and finds open spaces to skate into while separating himself from his defender. Connelly was a dynamic offensive threat on the powerplay and at even strength. On the man advantage, he utilized his footwork to shift penalty killers around to open up shooting/passing lanes. I like how he’s rarely ever stationary with the puck and is always on the move, searching for defensive holes in coverage. His puck control is above average, allowing him to handle pucks and finish in tight. Connelly also brought the pace and motor on the other side of the puck, showcasing his two-way play.

F - Adam Benak (Czechia)

Although Adam Benak was a year younger than everyone else on his team, he drove the bus offensively for Czechia through his speed and high-end playmaking ability. His skating is terrific and a major strength in his ability to create offense off the rush. He showcased strong stride mechanics and two-step acceleration in straight lines. He’s a talented playmaker. Patience is a virtue and Benak has it for days. He likes to delay and hold onto pucks to draw defenders to him which allows passing lanes to open up for him. His off-puck positioning as a centre is superb. He assists his defencemen through the middle on breakouts and regularly in close support during battles. He is on the smaller side which will cause some reserves of his future potential. But he’s not eligible for the NHL Draft until 2025 and showed me through his play in this tournament that he’s got some dynamic offensive upside.

D - Sam Dickinson (Canada)

Sam Dickinson is going to challenge for a top five selection and for the top defenceman in the upcoming 2024 NHL Draft. He’s big, strong, moves the puck efficiently in the defensive zone, and is mobile in the attacking end. He’s composed under pressure in the defensive zone and uses his powerful edges and solid agility to escape from attackers before moving the puck up ice. He can efficiently break the puck out with an accurate first pass or by carrying it out himself with confidence. In the offensive zone, he likes to stay in motion and make plays while on the move. Dickinson defends the rush with terrific mobility, gap control, and an active stick. He’s effective at getting his body in between the man and the puck. Defensively he was a wall in every game while also bringing a bit of an intimidating presence. This young man has the coveted tools already to be a top-pairing NHL defenceman.

D - Adam Jiricek (Czechia)

Adam Jiricek, like Sam Dickinson, didn’t put up gaudy numbers, but his well-roundedness, maturity, and skating all show signs of a potential top pairing defenceman at the pro level already. His game is already incredibly polished. He makes very few mistakes for you to critique. You can rely on him to log heavy minutes and play in all situations. He’s smart at processing what’s in front of him and the passing lanes that will open up. Then he will lay a flat, pinpoint accurate pass to his forwards for clean zone exits. Jiricek possesses elite edgework to work himself away from forecheckers or into more opportune passing/shooting lanes. Defensively he was a stalwart for Czechia, sacrificing his body to block shots on the penalty kill, and closing gaps quickly with his great mobility and defensive stick. He’s very efficient at stopping the cycle by using that big body of his to pin his opponents.

G - Carter George (Canada)

Carter George narrowly beat out Czechia goaltender, Jakub Milota, for my top goalie of the tournament. George took advantage of securing the crease for Canada after their disastrous opening game against Finland. He exhibits great poise and steady confidence through his technical play and positioning which gives his teammates and coaches confidence when he’s in between the pipes. He always looks in control of his movements and rarely loses his net or overplays his angles. He’s a good skater and moves smoothly side-to-side. George displays strong puck tracking ability, especially when the puck is in close around his crease. He’s got a solid glove hand where he consistently catches and traps pucks inside them with ease. His puck playing skills for his age was good and he showed comfort in coming out and moving the puck from behind his net. George doesn’t have that “ideal” size for a goaltender, but his composure, positioning, and technical play really impressed me.

Honourable Mentions


Malcolm Spence - Spence I thought got better through each game of the tournament. He was an effective penalty killer for Canada where he could use his speed to pressure and create offence. His stick checking impressed me as he was terrific at taking pucks off his opposition’s stick or poking pucks into an open space for him or a teammate to skate into. That puck-stealing skill was on display with his overtime winner.

Cole Beaudoin - Beaudoin emerged as a fantastic role player for Canada with his versatile toolbox. He played centre, wing, took important faceoffs on the penalty kill, and provided a heavy game to cause havoc while forechecking. He has a strong motor, busting his butt at both ends of the rink. He also displayed a finishing touch from in and around the home plate area.

Ryder Ritchie - Ritchie was Canada’s second most dangerous forwards after Berkly Catton. Ritchie showcased a ton of confidence with the puck in this tournament and an above average individual skillset to drive the offence. He likes to attack defenders and play through traffic. Solid puck skills and offensive instincts. His skating is quick and he possesses the acceleration to separate himself from defenders.

Michael Misa - Misa dominated in their game against Slovakia where he put up six points and, in that game, showed why he deserved exceptional status in the OHL. His awareness in the offensive zone is top-notch as he looks to set his teammates up in high-danger areas. His skating is explosive and his hands work in unison with his feet to make him a dynamic puck carrying threat in transition.

Henry Mews - I thought Mews was Canada’s best defenceman in the Gold Medal Game playing a solid two-way game. His skating and footwork are high-end and make him an elusive puck carrier in transition and inside the offensive zone. He displays excellent offensive instincts and loves to activate into the attack. Moves the puck very well on breakouts, showcasing terrific vision.

Charlie Elick - Elick was a defensive specialist for Canada and a massive contributor to their penalty kill. He’s got the tools to be a strong shutdown defenceman. He uses his size to play a physical game and separate his man from the puck. Does a good job of utilizing his range to minimize gaps and get his stick into shooting lanes at the last second. He showcased solid straight-line acceleration on his carries.


Adam Titlbach - Titlbach surely made his mark on scouts through his offensive skills and production. He’s quick in his boots and takes advantage of open ice through the neutral zone to establish controlled entries. He protects the puck very well in his hip pocket while at full speed. He shoots the puck with a quick, snappy release and showed the soft skill to make plays underneath sticks.

Ondrej Kos - Kos was a perfect complement to Titlbach and Benak on Czechia’s top line. He’s a terrific north-south skater with great speed down the wing to turn defenders around. He plays with pace off the puck and forechecks using his speed and size. He’s a threat in transition and strong along the boards with his big frame, which still has a lot of room to fill out.

Tomas Galvas - Galvas showed great maturity and pro habits in his game. He was Czechia’s second-best defenceman for me, factoring in at both ends of the rink. He utilizes his quick feet and skating to activate into the rush and stay with his man defensively while he forces them out wide. He closes out his man well along the boards and showcases good patience while starting the breakout.

Jakub Milota - Milota didn’t have a bad game and was tremendous in the Gold Medal Game. He makes up for his lack of size with his quickness and athleticism. He comes out to the top of his paint to challenge shooters and cut down his angles. Routinely squares up to shooters. He showcased good rebound control on low shots and quick reflexes in his legs.


Will Zellers - After Trevor Connelly, it was Zellers who looked to create the most chances for Team USA. He created most of his chances himself by working himself into the middle of the ice for a better scoring opportunity. He’s got the quick edges needed for a smaller forward to escape pressure in small spaces. I also liked his defensive hustle and awareness in his own end.

Will Felicio - Felicio finished tied-2nd for defenceman scoring but first in goals with three. He was most effective in the tournament on the powerplay and moving the puck on breakouts. He skates with an airy stride and is light on his feet to cut, twist, and turn away from pressure. Uses his offensive instincts to get himself into scoring positions and is accurate in sniping the puck above the goalies' shoulders.

Caleb Heil - Heil’s tournament numbers don’t stand out, but when you watch him play, you see an athletic goalie who recovers quickly and is exceptional at playing the puck for his age. He managed to put up two assists in the tournament. His lateral movement is swift and he’s quick to square himself after coming across. I like his reaction speed in corralling loose pucks after he doesn’t smother the first shot he faced.


Emil Hemming - Hemming was a scoring threat on the powerplay and showcased that he possesses a very powerful and quick release. One of the best shooters in this tournament. He’s got quick hands and creativity when attacking defenders 1-on-1 off the rush. His awareness in the offensive zone while surveying along the perimeter is strong. He’s got good size already and was willing to play physical on occasion.

Tuomas Suoniemi - Suoniemi had an impressive first game of the tournament against Canada where he scored a hat trick which included a highlight reel finish. He possesses skilled hands and great puck control while moving his feet. He recognizes open pockets he can attack through due to his constant heads-up awareness. Offensively has the skill to drive his line.


Leo Sahlin Wallenius - Wallenius played a strong two-way style and showed a knack for making offensive plays off the blueline. He’s a strong skater with good puck carrying mobility. He loves to activate into the rush. Showcased a shoot-first mentality for the most part. Defensively uses his mobility to close off players along the boards. Keeps his feet moving and uses his strength to eliminate his opponents off the puck.

Linus Eriksson - Captain for Sweden and he showcased his leadership by playing a competitive game at both ends of the rink. He’s a shifty skater in transition who displayed the ability to sidestep opponents through the neutral zone without breaking stride. He frequently scans the ice when possessing the puck and identifies quick passing options. Showed a willingness to involve himself in battles and outwork his opposition for the puck.


Daniil Ustinkov - The Swiss top defender did not disappoint. He’s got an all-around toolkit that allows him to play in all situations for his team. He loves to utilize his feet to carry pucks out and can do this due to his powerful skating. He’s excellent at using his edgework to escape pressure. Defensively he makes good defensive reads to intercept cross-ice passes. He’s strong defending along the boards and in defensive zone battles.

Leon Muggli - Muggli plays a bit of an old-fashioned style of defence. He’s rugged, tough, and likes to eliminate his man from the play through body contact. He’s strong on his man and was effective at breaking up cycles below his goal line. Muggli was a steady defender for the Swiss and Mr. Reliable on the backend for them.