Misa, Dickinson among Canadian players to watch at 2023 Hlinka Gretzky Cup
Canada aims for its second consecutive gold medal at the 2023 Hlinka Gretzky Cup headlined by an exceptional status talent and a bevy of defensive prospects.
Historically, Canada has dominated the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, winning a total of 23 gold medals, well ahead of second place Russia with five.
A number of the top prospects will not be skating in this year’s tournament taking place in Breclav, Czechia and Trencin, Slovakia from July 31 to Aug. 5. Canadian forward Mack Celebrini, a running favourite to go first overall next June, is out due to shoulder surgery. He had 46 goals and 86 points in 50 games last season with the USHL’s Chicago Steel and is set to join Boston University for the upcoming season.
United States National Team Development Program forward Cole Eiserman and Finland’s Aron Kiviharju and Konsta Helenius are all skating in the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Mich., while Ivan Demidov (Russia) and Artyom Levshunov (Belarus) are ineligible due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Here are seven players to watch for Canada, with six being eligible for the 2024 NHL Draft.
Michael Misa - Saginaw Spirit
The sixth player to be granted exceptional status into the Ontario Hockey League, Misa was selected first overall by the Saginaw Spirit in 2022 and made an immediate impact as a 15-year-old.
In 2022-23, he had 22 goals and 56 points in 45 games along with three goals and eight points in 11 playoff games. At the U17s last year with Canada Red, he had three goals and six points in seven games as they earned silver.
“His ability to think and play the game fast,” said TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button on what makes Misa stand out. “When I watch him play, I would call [him] lowercase Jack Hughes.”
He also won OHL Rookie of the Year and was named to the CHL All-Rookie Team and the OHL First All-Rookie Team.
Misa is one of six players on the Canadian roster that are draft eligible in 2025.
Sam Dickinson – London Knights
Defenceman Sam Dickinson had a strong rookie season with the London Knights in 2022-23.
As a 16-year-old, he had nine goals and 23 points in 62 games as well as four goals and eight points in 21 playoff games as the Knights lost in six games to the Peterborough Petes in the OHL finals. He was named to the OHL First All-Rookie Team for his efforts.
“Dickinson is what I call the all-purpose defenceman,” said Button. “He’s going to play 20-plus minutes, the heavy hard minutes. He’s an excellent skater. Excellent command of the game.
“He’s hard to play against. He’s calm, settled, poised.”
Dickinson also captained Canada Black at the U17s, registering a goal and an assist in seven games and earned tournament All-Star honours.
Henry Mews – Ottawa 67’s
As an OHL rookie defenceman, Henry Mews had 12 goals and 31 points in 55 games as well as one goal and three assists in 11 postseason games last season for the 67’s.
He wore the ‘C’ for Canada White at the U17s, recording two goals and eight points in six games and earning a tournament All-Star nod.
“Subtle, intelligent player,” said Button of Mews. “The puck is off his stick at the right times. He doesn’t put himself into dangerous, problematic areas. He’s a really solid two-way defenceman.”
Mews’ 67’s teammate, defenceman Frankie Marrelli, will also be skating for Canada.
Zayne Parekh – Saginaw Spirit
Defenceman Zayne Parekh, Misa’s teammate in Saginaw, also had a big rookie season last year in the OHL.
The Nobleton, Ont., product had 21 goals and 37 points in 50 games. In the playoffs, he had six goals and nine points in 11 games. He broke the OHL record for goals by a U16 defenceman, breaking the record set by London’s Rick Corriveau who had 19 in 1988.
“He’s always been good with the puck,” said Button of Parekh. “[When] the puck is on his stick, some real positive things happen. He’s quick to see openings, he’s decisive.”
Playing along with Dickinson on Canada Black at the U17s, Parekh had three goals and five points in seven games. He was also named to the CHL All-Rookie Team and OHL First All-Rookie Team.
Berkly Catton – Spokane Chiefs
Berkly Catton was the first overall pick in the WHL Bantam Draft by the Spokane Chiefs in 2021 and represented Canada twice last season.
At the U17s, he wore the ‘C’ for Canada Red, notching three goals and 12 points in seven games as he won silver and was named to the tournament All-Star team.
Catton also helped Canada win bronze at the U18s in the spring, with a goal and three assists in seven games.
“He’s a good offensive centre,” said Button of Catton. “He’s more bent towards playmaking than shooting but he’s going to be a frontline player for this team.”
As a rookie in the WHL, he was fourth in rookie scoring with 23 goals and 55 points in 63 games, and all three players ahead of him were eligible for the 2023 draft.
Liam Greentree – Windsor Spitfires
Greentree had 25 goals and 45 points in 61 games last season with Windsor as the Spitfires finished first in the West division. He had one assist in four games as Windsor was swept in the first round of the OHL playoffs by the Kitchener Rangers.
“He’s unique, big, strong,” said Button of Greentree. “He’s got a lot of room to just push his game way ahead. But the skill he possesses, the drive that he plays with, really, really impressive.”
The Oshawa, Ont., product was named to the OHL First All-Rookie Team and had the most goals by a rookie last season.
Maxim Massé – Chicoutimi Sagueneens
Massé had 29 goals and 62 points in 65 games last season as a rookie along with one assist in five postseason games as the Sagueneens lost in the first round after finishing second in the East division.
“On a team that wasn’t great, he was a real top notch player,” said Button of Massé. “He’s got a really strong understanding of how to create offence. He’s equally as dangerous as a playmaker and as a shooter. I’m interested to see how they use him.”
He was named CHL and QMJHL Rookie of the Year as well as CHL and QMJHL All-Rookie team honours and had the most goals and points by a rookie in the QMJHL.