Two San Jose Sharks prospects represented the United States in last week’s World Junior Summer Showcase. University of Michigan-bound center Joshua Norris, San Jose’s first round pick this June, and Ottawa 67s center Sasha Chmelevski, a Huntington Beach Native and 2017 sixth round pick, both skated in the event last week in Plymouth, MI.
Fear the Fin was not on the scene, but we’ve compiled observations on their performance from people who were!
6 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 11 SOG, -3
Norris failed to record a point last week, but his 11 shots on goal were tied for tenth among all skaters at the showcase. The Oxford, MI native played in the maximum six games: three with the split-squad USA Blue, and all three with the full USA squad after camp was narrowed down mid-week.
According to Jake Baskin, who writes about NCAA and draft prospects for sister site Lighthouse Hockey, Norris’ goose egg on the scoresheet mostly came down to some bad bounces:
I've long been a fan of Norris's game and I thought overall he played well this week, but he just couldn't find the back of the net. It wasn't for lack of trying, just his stick seemed to be cursed this week. That happens.
Norris also showed off his chippy side in a pair of games against Finland.
Team USA's Josh Norris and Team Finland's Robin Salo exchange pleasantries behind Finland's net. #WJSS— Dana Wakiji (@Dwakiji) August 4, 2017
5 GP, 1 G, 0 A, 5 SOG, +1
Chmelevski was scratched for the United States’ matchup with Canada on Friday, but played in every other game with USA Blue and the full U.S. squad. He scored the game-winning goal for USA Blue against Finland on Wednesday, showing off his offensive instincts in the process.
Chmelevski made an impression on Baskin, who called the California-born prospect “one of my biggest positive surprises this week.” Baskin wrote to us:
Chmelevski was great during the split-squad games and did more than enough to stay with the team for the entire week when I thought before the camp he might be cut at the halfway point. With the unified Team USA he was in more of a depth role, as Coach [Bob] Motzko seems to have a set top 6-9 in mind.
What comes next?
Norris and Chmelevski will return to Ann Arbor and Ottawa, respectively, and hope that their play this season is enough to earn an invite to USA Hockey’s December camp and, eventually, a spot on the World Junior roster in Buffalo.
ESPN’s Corey Pronman does not project either player to make the final American roster. Neither does Baskin, although he didn’t rule it out entirely:
At this point, I don't have Chmelevski on my roster, and Norris is one of my 30-man December camp picks but isn't on my final roster.
Both can be changed––Norris is probably more likely to make the team with his reputation, USA Hockey experience, and offensive versatility. For Norris to make the team, he's gonna have to establish himself early on at Michigan––which I expect he will do, as the Wolverines weren't that good last year and don't have a lot of offense returning.
Chmelevski's road may be a little harder; he's probably gonna need to become one of the OHL's very best players, or he could crack the lineup if there are some injuries/other absences on the right wing. Both are eligible for the 2019 tournament should this year not be the right time for them.
If Norris and Chmelevski make the team in 2019, fellow 2017 Sharks draftee Scott Reedy could very well join them, Baskin told me. He spoke quite highly of the Minnesota-bound forward:
I thought Scott Reedy should have been invited to this camp and was a steal falling all the way down to the 102nd pick. I see an NHLer in his future, and he is very much in contention for the 2019 World Junior roster.
The 2018 World Junior roster may not be entirely without Sharks ties, however. Development camp favorite Sean Dhooghe could very well suit up for the stars and stripes in Buffalo, according to Baskin:
Sharks summer camp attendee Sean Dhooghe was, as you may expect, a crowd favorite, and might well have impressed the coaches enough to earn a spot on this year's team. He always seems to do well in international competition and this week was no exception; he was consistently productive all week. He is on my 30-man December camp roster, but could easily crack the lineup on Boxing Day.
Finally, Baskin also gave a name to look out for in the 2018 Draft. Michigan State center Patrick Khodorenko, who was born in Walnut Creek, went undrafted this season and could be a steal (and San Jose’s first Northern California-born draft pick):
Patrick Khodorenko definitely should have been drafted this year. He was cut at the halfway point of the Summer Showcase but he was a very good player on a very bad Michigan State team, will be the key offensive focal point for the Spartans this year, and is from the Bay Area, so I think it's wise for Sharks fans to keep an eye on him this season as a potential 2018 draftee.
A huge thanks to Jake for answering all of our questions! Be sure to follow him on Twitter @baskincase.
Did you catch any of the World Junior Summer Showcase? Share your observations and thoughts in the comments!