Team Canada’s Mathieu Joseph (Photo/Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada Images).
Joseph, 19, will represent Canada for the first time at any level internationally when he takes to the ice for the tournament that begins December 26 in Toronto and Montreal.
Canada will open with a tough matinee match against Russia at Toronto’s Air CanadaCentre while the United States plays Latvia in an evening contest at the arena.
Joseph is the second-leading scorer on the Saint John Sea Dogsof the Quebec MajorJunior Hockey League with 25 goals and 20 assists in 29 games. The 120th overall pick in the 2015 National Hockey League Draft has scored 80 goals and 91 assists in 176 QMJHL games since the 2013-14 season.
Mathieu Joseph in action against the Czech Republic in exhibition game play during the 2016 National Junior Team Sport Chek Selection Camp. Photo/Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada Images).
Joseph got an early Christmas present in December when the Lightning signed him to a three-year entry-level contract on the eve of the IIHF tournament.
Joseph’s game is about high energy and enthusiasm – traits he carries on and off the ice. He’s a gregarious personality, something he inherited from his parents.
“I’m a pretty outgoing guy,” he told Canada’s TSN. “Honestly, it’s easy for me to talk. My family has been raised like that. My parents are like that, maybe not as hyper per se, but I”d say they raised me like that.”
Pierre-Olivier Joseph has 4 goals and 23 assists in 32 QMJHL games this season. NHL CentralScouting lists him as a player to watch and projects him to be a second or third-round pick at the 2017 draft to be held June 23-24 at Chicago’s UnitedCenter.
USA Hockey will announce its final 23-man U.S. roster for the IIHF world juniors on Dec. 24. Three players of color who were also chosen in the 2015 draft are in the hunt for roster spots: Caleb Jones, a defenseman for the Western Hockey League’s Portland Winterhawks and an EdmontonOilers fourth-round pick; Boston University forward Jordan Greenway, a Minnesota Wild second-round draft choice; and Providence College forward Erik Foley, a Winnipeg Jets third-round pick.
CHICAGO – Three players of color took center stage at the 2017 National Hockey LeagueDraft at Chicago’s United Center Friday night.
Two major junior hockey players of Asian heritage and a black French-Canadian player were chosen in the first round of the 31-team draft. And Ryan Reaves, a pugnacious veteran forward, was traded by the St. Louis Blues to the PittsburghPenguins, a move that capped the first day of the draft.
Thirteen proved to be a lucky number for Nick Suzuki, a forward for the OwenSound Attack of the Ontario Hockey League. He was taken with the 13th pick in the draft by the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.
Nick Suzuki of the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack hopes to be Vegas-bound after being drafted in the first round by the Golden Knights (Photo/Terry Wilson/OHL Images).
“It’s not every day you get picked by an expansion team,” Suzukisaid after he had his named called and donned the fledgling Golden Knights’ jersey. “I’m really happy about being picked by Vegas and I want to get there pretty quick and see the new building.”
Suzuki was ranked as the 10th-best North American skater by NHL Central Scouting. The 5-foot-10 native of London, Ontario, was Owen Sound’s second-leading scorer last season with 45 goals and 51 assists in 65 games.
His younger brother, forward Ryan Suzuki, was the first player chosen in the 2017 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection Draft in April, plucked by the Barrie Colts.
Nick Suzuki said he has no worries about joining a new NHL team that’s bound to have more losses than wins in its first few seasons.
“I don’t think I’m nervous,” he said. “I’m more excited to see what Vegas is like. I don’t know if there’s pressure. I kind of just take it as a new team and you have to show them that you’re a good player.”
Kailer Yamamoto is looking forward to someday playing with Edmonton Oilers snipers Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl after Edmonton selected Yamamoto, a forward with the Western Hockey League’s Spokane Chiefs, with the 22nd pick of the draft.
“I’m really looking forward to going to that skill team,” Yamamoto said. “I think it’s going to definitely benefit my game.”
The 5-foot-7, 140-pound right wing was listed as the 17th-best North American skater by Central Scouting.
Spokane Chiefs’ Kailer Yamamoto hopes to prove that size doesn’t matter after the Edmonton Oilers chose the 5-foot-7 forward in the first round of the NHL Draft (Photo/Larry Brunt/Spokane Chiefs).
A Spokane native of Japanese and Hawaiian heritage, Yamamotoled the Chiefs in scoring in 2016-17 with 42 goals and 47 assists in 65 games. His older brother, Keanu, was Spokane’s fourth-leading scorer last season with 26 goals and 43 assists in 72 games.
“My dad’s dad, he’s from Japan actually, he was in the internment camps,” Kailer Yamamoto said. “My dad’s half Japanese so that makes me a quarter Japanese. It’s unbelievable to be Japanese, get the Japanese heritage, and hopefully be in the NHL someday.”
Right after Yamamoto had his name called, defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph was chosen with the 23nd pick of the draft by the Arizona Coyotes.
Joseph patrolled the blue line last season for the Charlottetown Islanders of the Quebec Major Junior HockeyLeague, where he had 6 goals and 33 assists in 62 games.
Joseph wasn’t a stranger to the spectacle and hype of draft day. He watched his older brother, forward Mathieu Joseph of the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs, get drafted by the TampaBay Lightning in the fourth round in 2015.
Still, the younger Joseph – who was ranked as the 27th-best North American skater eligible for the draft by Central Scouting – admitted to having a case of the jitters on Friday.
“Obviously, I didn’t want to think about the draft,” he said. “I played cards and watched movies as the day goes on, but as I sat in the stands and watched the names go by, I was thinking whether I’d get called or not.”
He credited his older brother and his parents for helping him achieve his draft day moment.
“I was a bit of an underdog,” Joseph said. “Obviously, I had my brother and my family to push me. Everyone has been there for me to push me and make me the player I am now.”
Thanks to Evan Moore for contributing to this report.
Follow the Color of Hockey on Facebook and Twitter @ColorOfHockey.
Auston Matthews leads the Maple Leafs to the playoffs in his rookie year.
And players of color are in the thick of all these events. Of the 16 teams in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, all but four – the Boston Bruins, OttawaSenators, Calgary Flames and Anaheim Ducks – have minority players.
And two of those teams have minority coaches. Sudarshan Maharaj, a Trinidadian raised in Toronto, is the goaltender coach for the Ducks and Paul Jerrard is an assistant coach for the Flames.
While NHLers battle for the Stanley Cup, teenagers from 10 North American and European nations are fighting for international bragging rights at the IIHF U18 World Championship.
Akil Thomas, a rookie forward with the Niagara Ice Dogs, is playing for Canada. The son of a Canadian career minor league hockey player and a mother from suburban Washington, D.C., Thomas had 21 goals and 27 assists in 61 games for the Ontario Hockey League team.
Forward Akil Thomas joined Team Canada for the IIHF U18 World Championship after his strong rookie season with the OHL’s Niagara Ice Dogs (Photo/Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada Images).
He’s joined on Team Canada’s by another major junior rookie, defenseman Jett Woo of the Western Hockey League’s Moose Jaw Warriors. Woo collected 5 goals and 17 assists in 65 games with the Warriors.
Moose Jaw Warriors defenseman Jett Woo has been making waves at the IIHF U18 World championship with his solid play (Photo/ Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada Images).
The 6-foot-2 NHL draft-eligible defenseman skates for the USA Hockey National Team DevelopmentProgram and is ranked as the 68th-best North American skater by the NHL’s Central Scouting.
Inamoto tallied 2 goals and 9 assists in 42 games for the U.S.’s Under-18 team in 2016-17. He had 2 goals and 5 assists in 17 games for Team USA in the United States Hockey League.
If Inamoto is drafted, the NHL will have to wait. He’s committed to play hockey in the fall for the University of Wisconsin Badgers.
“Inamoto is a predator,” Badgers Head Coach Tony Granato said in November. “He is a physical, hungry, intimidating player. He is a great athlete. He’s big, strong, and has a mean streak…He’ll be a physical impact player right away next year. He’s strong enough already to play a physical game at the college level.”
USA defenseman Tyler Inamoto is ranked as the 68th best draft-eligible North American skater by NHL Central Scouting (Photo/Len Redkoles).
While the Under-18 championship is going on, 16 countries are finalizing their rosters for next month’s IIHF World Championship, a tourney that will feature some NHL players whose teams didn’t make the Stanley Cup Playoffs or were eliminated in the early rounds.
Team Canada quickly snapped up forward Wayne Simmonds, who led the Philadelphia Flyers‘ in goals with 31 in 82 games.
Team USA named Boston University massive forward Jordan Greenway to its squad. Greenway, a 2015 Wild second-round draft choice, was a 6-foot-5, 230-pound force in January, powering the U.S. to a Gold Medal at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship in Toronto and Montreal.
Greenway scored three goals and five assists in seven games for the U.S. and was the team’s second-leading scorer. Two of his three goals were game-winners. He was BU’s fifth-leading scorer in 2016-17 with 10 goals and 21 assists in 37 games for the Terriers.
Despite his impressive season, Greenway has elected to return to BU for his junior year instead of trying to make the leap to the NHL.
“I have a great time here with my teammates, and BU has just been great to me,” Greenway told Boston Hockey Blog’s Jonathan Sigal. “I want to win a couple more championships here, so definitely one more year is what I’m going to do.”
I haven’t seen co-host country France’s roster yet for the Worlds, but you can bet that it will include Flyers forward Pierre Edouard Bellemare, who has become one of the best French-born players to skate in the NHL.
Pierre Edouard Bellemare is pumped about World Championship being in his home country, France.
A late bloomer, the 32-year-old defensive specialist tallied 4 goals and 4 assists in 82 games. The Flyers liked Bellemare’s grit and grace enough that they re-signed him for two years at $1.45 million per year and added him to the team’s leadership, making him an assistant team captain.
He’s as pumped about the prospect of playing in his home country during the World Championship as he was getting the new contract and the ‘A’ from the Flyers. France, whose men’s team is ranked 14th in the world, opens the tournament May 6against Norway in Paris.
“I think it’s going to be incredible,” Bellemare, a member of the French national team since 2004, told IIHF’s Lucas Akryod. “It is the first Worlds in France. I hope we will get a lot of fans for all the games, and that hockey will continue to develop in France.
Hockey’s busy spring rolls into summer when the brain trusts from the NHL’s 30 teams convene inside Chicago’s United Center for the draft June 23-24.
The NHL’s Central Scouting released its final player rankings earlier this month and there are several players of color to watch in addition to Inamoto.
There’s Nick Suzuki, a 5-foot-10 center for the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack. Central Scouting ranks the London, Ontario, Canada native as the 10th-best North American skater. He was the Attack’s second-leading scorer with 45 goals and 51 assists in 65 games.
Owen Sound’s Nick Suzuki is ranked as the 10th-best North American skater eligible for the 2017 NHL Draft (Photo/Terry Wilson/OHL Images).
Then there’s Jason Robertson, a 6-foot-2 left wing for the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs. Central Scouting ranks the Michigan native as the 14th-best North American skater. He led the Frontenacs in scoring in 2016-17 with 42 goals and 39 assists in 68 games.
Kingston Frontenacs left wing Jason Robertson jumped from 34th in NHL Central Scouting’s midterm rankings to 14th in its final listing before June’s NHL Draft (Photo/Aaron Bell/OHL Images).
Pierre-Olivier Joseph, a defenseman for the Charlottetown Islanders of the QuebecMajor Junior Hockey League. He’sranked as the 27th-best North American skater by Central Scouting.
The 6-foot-2, 161-pound 18-year-old notched 6 goals and 33 assists in 62 games for the Charlottetown.
Joseph is the younger brother of forward Mathieu Joseph, a sniper for the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs and a 2015 fourth-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He signed an entry level contract with the ‘Bolts prior to playing for Canada in the 2017 World Juniors.
Another potential 2017 draftee is Cole Purboo, a forward for the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League. He’sranked as the 189th-best North American skater. The 6-foot-3 Oakville, Ontario, Canada native scored 11 goals and 6 assists in 68 games for the Spitfires.
“I was hoping (to be) a little higher, but it’s alright,” Purboo told The Windsor Star last week of his Central Scouting rank. “It’s just people making a list…The same thing happened with the OHL draft. I don’t pay too much attention to them.”
Cole Purboo of the Windsor Spitfires (Photo/Aaron Bell/OHL Images).
Standing on the outside of top North American skaters on Central Scouting’s list is Elijah Roberts, a defenseman for the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers.
Elijah Roberts of the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers (Photo/Terry Wilson/OHL Images).
The 5-foot-8, 159-pound blue-liner, slipped from 208th in Central Scouting’s midterm list. He scored 4 goals and 14 assists in 65 games with the Rangers in 2016-17.
He’s considered undersized by today’s NHL standards, but his height hasn’t stopped him from excelling on ice. He was a major contributor for Team Canada in the World Under-17 hockey challenge.
“He’s a fast skater, very mobile, very aggressive on the ice,” one scout told Canada’s Sportsnet. “He’s been aggressive at the OHL level, too. He’s just a good kid; he skates hard and he works hard.”
Some NHL teams have drafted small D-men. The Vancouver Canucks took Jordan Subban, P.K. Subban’s 5-foot-9 younger brother, in the fourth round in 2013.
The diminutive defenseman was the sixth-leading scorer for the Utica Comets, the Canucks’ American Hockey League farm team, in 2016-17 with 16 goals and 20 assists in 64 games.