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Hall among hockey's young guns to watch for

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TSN.ca Staff
8/6/2008 12:42:13 AM
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Considering their age, Canada's Under-18 team will be going to the Ivan Hlinka tournament in Slovakia and the Czech Republic with a boatload of experience.

Three forwards and one defenceman are returning from the Under-18 squad that won gold at the World Championship this past spring.

"They're all terrific," head scout Al Murray told TSN. "Not just (as) hockey players but (as) leaders and I think it's going to give us a big leg up going into this tournament."

Braydon Schenn (brother of Kelowna Rockets defenceman and Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick Luke), Matthew Duchene are two returning forwards known for their all-around game, but a lot of eyes will be focused on Windsor Spitfires forward Taylor Hall - a potential No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

"He can shoot in stride and he can make plays in high speed," explained Murray. "He's a very dangerous player and a player who's always a threat to score in every shift out there."

Hall, considered a natural goal-scorer, has already enjoyed a banner year in a very young hockey career. After being taken second overall by Windsor in last summer's junior draft, he set a team rookie record with 45 goals and 84 points in 63 games en route to capturing honours as the OHL and Canadian Hockey League rookie of the year. Last month, Sports Illustrated published a one-page feature on Hall, dubbing him as a teenage star to keep an eye on.

"The 2010 draft can't come fast enough for him," said Team Canada defenceman Ryan Ellis, who plays with Hall in Windsor. "He's just unbelievable. Size, skill, talent, he's got it all - the whole package."

But for Hall, the draft is still a long way off and the young forward is more enthusiastic about taking a leader's role at next week's Under-18 tournament.

"I think it's exciting for us," said Hall. "We get to teach some guys what it's like to go overseas, how to handle the jetlag and stuff and it's going to be a lot of fun."

Leading a group of six-foot, 200-pound blueliners will be the not-so-big Ellis. At 5'9 1/2, the Windsor Spitfires defenceman not only has a solid defensive game, but also the ability to produce offence from the back end.

"I see myself as a shutdown guy but also an offensive guy as well," he told TSN. "I think it's key just to start rushes and join them here and there just to add an extra guy in the equation on offence."

Team Canada will have one practice at home before departing overseas for the Ivan Hlinka tournament.

With files from TSN's Jermain Franklin.

Taylor Hall (Photo: Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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