The World Junior Championship gives NHL fanbases a chance to get a glimpse of the next generation, and there was no shortage of top prospects showcasing themselves over the past two weeks. We look at how each NHL team’s prospects performed at the tournament.
After two weeks, a handful of thrillers and one golden goal by Akil Thomas, the World Junior Championship is in the books.
But over the course of the tournament, many NHL fanbases got a glimpse into the future. Los Angeles led the way with nine prospects at the tournament, including Sweden’s Samuel Fagemo, one of the three forwards named to the tournament all-star team and the event’s leading goal and point scorer. If Sweden qualified for the final and Alexis Lafreniere hadn’t returned from injury, maybe we would have seen Fagemo skate away with the tournament MVP award.
The Kings weren’t the only club with a stud at the tournament, however. Here’s a look at how each team’s prospects fared now that the tournament is in the books:
Lukas Dostal (CZE, G) was supposed to be one of the tournament’s best goaltenders, but an early injury limited his action and he fell flat against Sweden in the quarterfinal. Trevor Zegras (USA, LW), meanwhile, led the tournament with nine assists. He started off playing just a handful of minutes before emerging as a second-liner to finish the tournament.
With seven players across six teams, the Coyotes were well represented in the Czech Republic. Barrett Hayton (CAN, C) took home gold and was named to the tournament all-star team with 12 points in seven games, but keep an eye on his left arm after an injury in the semifinal. Victor Soderstrom (SWE, D) took home bronze and wasn’t far off of getting serious top defenseman consideration, while Aku Raty (FIN, RW) was a spark plug on Finland’s fourth line.
Curtis Hall (USA, C) was the only Bruins prospect to score a goal, while John Beecher (USA, RW) will miss the first game of the 2021 tournament after he was handed a one-game suspension by the IIHF. Jakub Lauko (CZE, LW) was injured in the first game and never returned. No medals between the three.
Dylan Cozens (CAN, C) scored the first goal for Canada in the final and had a substantial impact with nine points in seven games alongside Joe Veleno. Mattias Samuelsson (USA, D) finished his WJC career with no points in 12 games. Matej Pekar (CZE, LW) wasn’t very impactful on the fourth line and Erik Portillo (SWE, G) never hit the ice.
Prospect-wise, there wasn’t much for Flames fans to follow in the Czech Republic. Dustin Wolf (USA, G) appeared in just one game, a 6-3 win over the Germans – a solid outing, at least. Forward Dmitri Zavgorodny would have played a big role for Russia, but an injury took him out prior to the tournament.
Patrik Puistola (FIN, RW) was in the running for the tournament all-star team with five goals and eight points in seven games, which was quite the performance given he was stretchered off the ice in a Finnish League contest earlier in the month. Anttoni Honka (FIN, D) was one of Finland’s better defensemen, while Lenni Killinen (FIN, RW) had a pair of assists. With six goals and eight points in seven games, Dominik Bokk (GER, RW) was a major reason why Germany avoided relegation. Jack Drury (USA, C) saw more ice time as the tournament went on, but had just two points.
The Czech Republic didn’t have much to cheer about on home ice, but Michal Teply (CZE, RW) led the team with five assists. He’s trending towards being a reliable bottom-six playmaking forward for the Hawks in the future. Antti Saarela (FIN, LW) never found the scoresheet.
Bowen Byram (CAN, D) missed the semifinal game against Finland, but was otherwise one of Canada’s more well-rounded defensemen. Assuming he doesn’t make the Avalanche out of camp next year, he’ll be back on the Canadian roster next season. Speaking of Finland, Justus Annunen (FIN, G) was trending towards top goaltender honors until a 5-0 loss to Canada, but he has a bright future. Sampo Ranta (COL, LW) was the spark the Finns needed in their bottom six and showed great chemistry with the Raty brothers. Daniil Zhuravlyov (RUS, D) was solid on the Russian blueline but didn’t factor much into the team’s offense. He’s best when he isn’t flashy.
Columbus Blue Jackets
It was a weird tournament for Kirill Marchenko (RUS, LW), who had one assist leading up to Russia’s game against Germany on New Year’s Eve. There, he recorded five points, but didn’t hit the scoresheet again in a silver medal effort. Dmitri Voronkov (RUS, LW) had a spectacular tournament with seven points as one of Russia’s more valuable wingers. Liam Foudy (CAN, LW) started near the bottom of Canada’s lineup but forced his way into the top six and was named one of Canada’s top three players – not for his four points, but his dominant defensive play. Tim Berni (SUI, D) had a solid run with three assists.
Ty Dellandrea (CAN, C) was sneaky good for Canada, putting up five points in a third-line role alongside Aidan Dudas and Connor McMichael. It was Dellandrea’s work ethic that stood out. Oskar Back (SWE, C) didn’t have much offensive impact, registering just two points despite getting significant ice time later in the tournament.
Detroit Red Wings
At least Detroit’s prospect base gave its fans something to cheer about, right? Moritz Seider (GER, D) was in the running for top defensemen as a heavy minute-muncher for the ninth-placed German team. If you weren’t convinced he’s the real deal before, you should be now. Joe Veleno (CAN, C) and Jared McIsaac (CAN, D) finished with gold for Canada, registering six and four points, respectively. Jonatan Berggren (SWE, LW) had five points, but his value was his two-way play and ability to find teammates through traffic around the net.
Edmonton had four players at the tournament, but not one produced much offense. Matej Blumel (CZE, RW) fell flat with just one goal, and same goes for Sweden’s Philip Broberg (SWE, D), who at least left with some bronze hardware. Raphael Lavoie (CAN, RW) didn’t live up to his strong CIBC Canada Russia Series performance and had just two assists, but he – like Olivier Rodrigue (CAN, G), who didn’t dress in a game – will leave the Czech Republic with gold.
We knew Russia was going to rely on Grigori Denisenko (RUS, LW), and he didn’t disappoint. Denisenko had nine points in seven games as Russia finished second. However, his broken stick in the final seconds of the championship game will haunt him. Spencer Knight (USA, G), meanwhile, couldn’t save the United States, but he was stellar in the quarterfinals with a hard-fought 28-save effort. Justin Schutz (GER, LW) had a solid performance with four assists.
Los Angeles Kings
While Rasmus Kupari (FIN, C) was out early with an injury, Kim Nousiainen (FIN, D) gave Kings fans a reason to watch Finland and got better as the tournament went on. Given the fact he didn’t play much, Arthur Kaliyev (USA, LW) was explosive with four goals and six points, but Alex Turcotte (USA, C) had just two points. Maybe, just maybe, he should have spent more time with his usual linemate Cole Caufield. Tobias Bjornfot (SWE, D) was on Sweden’s third pairing and failed to record a point, but he’ll be a more prominent player on the blueline next year if he’s not in the NHL. Aidan Dudas (CAN, LW) had just two points, but his teammate Akil Thomas (CAN, RW) scored a pretty important goal, we must say.
The Wild’s lone representative, Alexander Khovanov (RUS, C), was Russia’s top center and instrumental in the team’s run to a silver. Khovanov finished with eight points to finish as one of the team’s offensive leaders and earned a few all-star team nominations along the way.
If Alexander Romanov (RUS, D) makes his way to the Habs next year, oh boy. Romanov was able to do it all at this tournament, throwing massive hits and getting precious points en route to a spot on the all-star team. He fits the mold of a strong two-way defender that will thrive on the second pairing. Surprisingly, it wasn’t Cole Caufield (USA, RW) and his one goal that stood out most for the United States, it was Jordan Harris (USA, D) and his smooth skating with the puck. There might be another defensive gem in the stable for the Canadiens. Mattias Norlinder (SWE, D) failed to record a point for Sweden.
Just like the Predators as of late, defenseman Spencer Stastney (USA, D) had an underwhelming tournament. With zero points in five games, Stastney was mostly a depth option for the Americans, but he made a few standout plays in his own zone.
New Jersey Devils
New teammates Ty Smith (CAN, D) and Kevin Bahl (CAN, D) got a taste of what it’ll be like to play on the same team – but the results were only so-so. Smith, one of the CHL’s best offensive defensemen, finished with just three assists (and a few major defensive blunders against USA and Russia), while Bahl had an assist late in the tournament. Daniil Misyul’s (RUS, D) best moments were when he got under the skin of opponents. However, a headbutt on USA’s Oliver Wahlstrom cost the Russian defender a game. Nikola Pasic (SWE, LW) had just one assist in a minor role for Sweden.
New York Islanders
Oliver Wahlstrom (USA, LW) was one of the top American forwards throughout the tournament with five points alongside Nicholas Robertson and Shane Pinto. His legacy at the tournament, however, will be his involvement in many scrums. Jacob Pivonka (USA, C) had one assist in a minor role.
New York Rangers
K’Andre Miller (USA, D) entered the tournament as the most interesting prospect, but Nils Lundkvist (SWE, D) was perhaps the best among them. While Miller showed he can be a physical defenseman, he struggled to move the puck and missed more than a few passes along the way. Lundkvist, on the other hand, was one of the tournament’s better playmakers and was a minute-eater for the Swedes on its path to bronze. Zac Jones (USA, D) was often one of USA’s standout defenders, but his game is much safer than Miller’s or Lundkvist’s. Jones is usually best when he’s flying under the radar. Karl Henriksson (SWE, C) did a nice job centering Lucas Raymond and Alexander Holtz, but he was the third wheel in that situation. An upper-body injury limited Nico Gross’ (SUI, D) playing time, but he was one of Switzerland’s best players in his three games.
No complaints allowed from Sens fans. Shane Pinto (USA, C) surprised many by becoming one of USA’s best forwards – something that wouldn’t have been projected following a quiet World Junior Summer Showcase. He’s quite well-rounded, and he put himself into the all-star team conversation with four goals and seven points in five games. Jacob Bernard-Docker (CAN, D) was Canada’s go-to shutdown defenseman and he filled that role nicely. If the Sens can pair him up with Thomas Chabot in a few years, they should form a dangerous combo. Lassi Thomson (FIN, D) did a little bit of everything for the Finns, including score, hit and play the point. Depending on which scout you talk to, he was Finland’s best defenseman.
He may have just been edged out by Romanov, but Yegor Zamula (RUS, D) was definitely in the conversation for a tournament all-star spot. The offensive defenseman had five points in seven games, but he was always the first guy back to defend and his puck-moving abilities are miles ahead of where they were even a year ago. Not too bad for an undrafted prospect. Cam York (USA, D) and Bobby Brink (USA, RW) played limited roles for the Americans, and Adam Ginning (SWE, D) was a bit over-utilized for the Tre Kronor. He did set up a nice play for the tying goal in the bronze medal game.
Penguins fans will be happy with what they saw out of Calen Addison (CAN, D). Addison had an impressive nine points in seven games as a power-play expert and was generally one of Canada’s best puck-moving defensemen.
San Jose Sharks
Defenseman Santeri Hatakka (FIN, D) was used as the more stay-at-home option beside Winnipeg’s Ville Heinola, with Hatakka finishing with just one assist. Still, he’s a good value option as a sixth-round pick by the Sharks (184th overall) and will be a leader again next year.
St. Louis Blues
After starting the tournament as the backup, Joel Hofer (CAN, G) stole the spotlight and was named the tournament’s top goaltender. Hofer had a 1.60 goals-against average and .939 save percentage and was generally good when Canada needed him to be – which, against Russia in the final, was often. Nikita Alexandrov (RUS, C) scored on Hofer in the final and finished with eight points as Russia’s second-line center.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Give Nolan Foote (CAN, RW) a chance to shoot and he won’t miss. Foote had three goals and five points in seven games, but played in just one shift in Canada’s blowout victory over Slovakia due to a major head contact penalty. Tampa Bay will want to use him on the power play in the future. Hugo Alnefelt (SWE, G) had some of the tournament’s best saves but didn’t always get the support he needed in front. That was evident in the semifinal against Russia.
Toronto Maple Leafs
It doesn’t even matter how the other two prospects fared: Rasmus Sandin (SWE, D) was the tournament’s top defenseman and his 10 points were two back of Alex Pietrangelo (12 points for Canada in 2010) for the best output by a defenseman since 2000. Nicholas Robertson (USA, LW) was a good setup guy on the top line for the United States and offered Leafs fans more hope that he’ll develop into a quality middle-six winger. Mikko Kokkonen (FIN, D) thrived in a bottom-pairing role, and that appears to be his NHL ceiling.
One of the stories of the tournament was the play of Nils Hoglander (SWE, LW), starting with his lacrosse goal to open the tournament and ending with the headshot that took him out of the semifinal against Russia. Had he not been thrown out of the game, he was trending towards tournament MVP status with five goals and 11 points. Vasili Podkolzin (RUS, RW) produced five points on a Russian team that had such a strange scoring group, but it seemed like he got his confidence back after playing limited minutes in the KHL. Toni Utunen (FIN, D) spent the tournament on the third pairing, mainly as a shutdown guy. That’s his future if he makes it to the NHL. Karel Plasek (CZE, RW) had just one assist, but he came close to a few goals against Sweden in the quarterfinal.
Vegas Golden Knights
Pavel Dorofeyev (RUS, LW) and Ivan Morozov (RUS, C) didn’t produce as expected with four and three points, respectively. It was a weird tournament for Russia, who didn’t rely on the high-flying offense that we typically see. Isaiah Saville (USA, G) didn’t see game action for the Americans.
He didn’t start out playing a big role, but Connor McMichael (CAN, LW) was impossible to ignore, scoring five goals and seven points. His production should come as a surprise given he’s one of the best prospects to come out of the 2019 draft so far. Martin Hugo Has (CZE, D) had an excellent tournament for the Czech Republic and for a big, 6-foot-4 defender, he wasn’t afraid to show his offensive skill, either.
Ville Heinola’s (FIN, D) job was to be a jack of all trades for Finland and that’s exactly what he was. With five assists, Heinola moved the puck well, and if it wasn’t for a few tip-ins, he would have had a couple of goals to his credit, too. David Gustafsson (SWE, C) led the tournament with a 71.03 faceoff percentage. He was plus-61 on the dot, 21 better than second-place Ivan Morozov.