Plymouth — Elite junior players from Canada, Finland, Sweden and the United States are trying out for their national squads in the 2018 World Junior Championships at USA Hockey Arena over the next week.
They will also practice and play in front of the brass from a lot of NHL franchises beginning Saturday.
Six Red Wings prospects are participating in the annual World Junior Summer Showcase, and Hockey TV and the NHL Network will broadcast some of the games.
Many of the players are likely to remain in junior hockey or transition to NCAA play this season.
Finnish defenseman Kasper Kotkansalo (6-foot-2, 190 pounds) said he already experienced a big thrill in international play when Finland won the 2016 U-18 World Championship.
“That was the best tournament ever, and the best days of my life, so far,” said Kotkansalo, an 18-year-old native of Helsinki who will play for Boston University in the autumn after a season in the United States Hockey League with a struggling Sioux Falls team.
“We have many the same guys here, right now (on the Finnish squad). So, we definitely know each other and we know what it takes to win a world championship.”
The Wings prospects on the four national rosters include:
■ For Canada — defenseman Dennis Cholowski (2016 first round, 20th overall), forward Michael Rasmussen (2017 first round, ninth overall) and forward Givani Smith (2016 second round, 46th overall).
■ For Finland — Kotkansalo (2017 third round, 71st overall).
■ For Sweden — goalie Filip Larsson (2016 fifth round 167th overall) and defenseman Gustav Lindstrom (2017 second round, 38th overall).
■ For USA — goalie Keith Petruzzelli (2017 third round, 88th overall).
Due to an injury, Canada made Rasmussen, the Red Wings' highest draft pick since Keith Primeau was selected third overall in 1990, a late addition to the roster on Thursday.
Neither Cholowski or Smith were invited by Canada last year.
Nine players from Michigan are on the USA roster: forward Sasha Chmelevski (Northville), forward Logan Cockerill (Brighton), goalie Dylan St. Cyr (Northville), defenseman Sean Day (Rochester), forward Max Jones (Rochester), forward Will Lockwood (Bloomfield Hills), forward Ivan Lodnia (Novi), forward Joshua Norris (Oxford), and forward Jason Robertson (Northville).
All of them, except St. Cyr, have been drafted by NHL teams. St. Cyr, who is committed to Notre Dame, is draft eligible next year.
“Today was a really good skate, it really had tempo,” said Norris, who was a first-round selection, 19th overall, by the Sharks last month.
Norris, whom scouts project as possibly a top NHL forward, is a product of the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies and the National Team Development Program of USA Hockey.
“A lot of us know each other, but we’ve really never played together,” he said. “So I think, if we just get a little chemistry going and hopefully tonight we get something going against the other team, and give them a run for their money.”
Norris was to skate in a scrimmage between squads from the split United States roster on Friday evening.
Larsson is looking to capitalize on some momentum he picked up in his development last season, when the goalie said he gained increasing confidence playing more frequently in the Swedish Super Elite League with Djurgardens.
He will remain in the country this year to play in the USHL with the Tri-City Storm.
“I want to play as many games as I can, just to develop even more,” said Larsson, an 18-year-old native of Stockholm. "It’s a much higher tempo over here, much better shots.
“It’s smaller rinks, obviously, everything goes faster. So, I think it’s a good option for me, to come over.”
Lindstrom is likely to return to the second Swedish league, the Allsvenskan, to play with Almtuna this season.
As last season went on, he started playing on the power play and garnered more ice time.
Lindstrom’s goals for the coming season are clear, he said.
“I want to improve my skating, be faster, be more mobile, both with the puck and away from the puck,” said Lindstrom, an 18-year-old native of Ostervala, Sweden.
World Junior Summer Showcase
What: Top junior players from the United States, Canada, Finland and Sweden are vying to make rosters for the World Junior Championship in Buffalo, Dec. 26, 2017 to Jan. 5, 2018.
When: Saturday through Aug. 5.
Where: USA Hockey Arena, Plymouth.
Tickets: Call 734-453-8400 or visit usahockeyarena.com.
Note: For some early games, the U.S. and Canadian rosters are split into two teams each.
■ USA White vs. Finland, 1 p.m. (Hockey TV)
■ USA Blue vs. Sweden, 4 p.m. (Hockey TV)
■ USA Blue vs. Finland, 1 p.m. (Hockey TV)
■ USA White vs. Sweden, 4 p.m. (Hockey TV)
■ Canada Red vs. USA White, 4 p.m. (Hockey TV)
■ Canada White vs. USA Blue, 7 p.m. (Hockey TV)
■ Canada vs. Finland, 1 p.m.
■ USA vs. Sweden, 4 p.m. (NHL Network)
■ Sweden vs. Canada, 1 p.m.
■ Finland vs. USA, 4 p.m. (NHL Network)
Saturday, Aug. 5
■ Sweden vs. Finland, 4 p.m.
■ USA vs. Canada, 7 p.m. (NHL Network)