The playoffs have started in the CHL, but that doesn't mean the hockey season is over for those who didn't make the cut. The World U18s start April 9th in Fargo, Minnesota. Find out who's a lock for Team Canada, and who might join them pending a first-round loss.
WHL- Prince Albert, Regina, Red Deer, Moose Jaw, Chilliwack, Portland
OHL- Oshawa, Kingston, Kitchener, Sault Ste. Marie
QMJHL- Val-d'Or, Halifax
LW Landon Ferraro, Red Deer (WHL)- Like Jordan Eberle last year, the World U18s could be a coming-out party for one of the most underappreciated snipers in the WHL. Landon Ferraro, son of former NHLer Ray, had 17 more goals and 13 more points than the next nearest Red Deer Rebel enroute to a solid 37-18-55 season. A dynamic skater with an elite release, Ferraro is without the doubt the best scorer likely available for the team, and he'll get a lot of opportunities as a result.
C Ethan Werek, Kingston (OHL)– Another under-the-radar forward looking to make waves in Minnesota, 6'2 center Ethan Werek has the three Ss- size, skill, sandpaper- and the numbers to prove it. The OHL rookie tied for the Kingston team lead in goals (32) and finished a close second in the scoring race (64 points). And, while 83 PIM might not look like a lot, it was actually the second-highest total on the Frontenacs roster. At his best in the slot or crease when paired with a playmaker, the big center should anchor the first or second unit.
D Calvin de Haan, Oshawa (OHL)- Once considered a franchise on the rise thanks to youngsters like John Tavares and Michael Del Zotto, the Oshawa Generals never truly became a Memorial Cup threat due to their lack of depth. However, one success story is Calvin de Haan. A smooth-skating blueliner in the Matt Carle mold, the 6'0 de Haan was an immediate match with Tavares as a rookie, scoring over a PPG prior to 'The Deal' that sent JT to the London Knight. While de Haan's numbers fell off, his ice-time and dominance quadrupled down the stretch. After finishing with 63 points in 68 games, de Haan could improve his draft position to top 15 with a strong showing for Team Canada.
D Ryan Button, Prince Albert (WHL)– Another underappreciated player coming out of the west is PA Raider Ryan Button. Thrust into a top three role as a 16 year-old in 2007-08, Button learned a lot valuable lessons enroute to an eight point, -20 campaign. However, 2008-09 has been the year where all those lessons have come in handy. Button's 37 points were second amongst all PA blueliners, and his 32 assists first. Playing upwards of 30 minutes many nights, the slick two-way defender will be a valuable addition to Team Canada.
D Taylor Doherty, Kingston (OHL)– One of the most intriguing talents in the 2009 Draft will get another chance at exposing his talent to scouts during the U18s. 6'8 Kingston Frontenac defenseman Taylor Doherty duplicated his impressive 2007-08 rookie campaign this year with another 20-point, 120 PIM campaign. The total package of raw skills and traits teams look for in defensemen, while it's slightly worrisome Doherty did not improve statistically in any way during 2008-09, he's miles ahead of other players usually taken for their size.
G Scott Stajcer, Owen Sound (OHL)- How can a go