U-20 World Junior Championship Preview

Discussion in 'Other Leagues, Hockey Talk, Fantasy' started by frank p, Dec 22, 2016.

  1. frank p

    frank p Legend 2

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    The World Junior Championship is the most exciting time of the year to get a look at upcoming draft eligible prospects and players who have recently been drafted. All players born between 1997-2002 are eligible for participating in the tournament. The line of Laine-Aho-Puljujarvi took the hockey world by storm at last years tournament and now all 3 players are playing in the NHL, showing that this tournament does have an impact on how players are viewed. I will cover Finland, Sweden, Russia, USA, and Canada in this preview and offer my predictions.

    GROUP A
    Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic, Denmark, Switzerland

    TEAM FINLAND
    Overview: Starting with last year's winners, team Finland is looking to repeat their success from last year and come home with the gold. Like most teams, Finland is seeing a huge change in available personnel due to age and NHL teams. They are losing key forwards from last years team including Patrik Laine, Jesse Puljujarvi, Sebastian Aho, Aleksi Saarela, Roope Hintz, Mikko Rantanen, and the player who scored the golden goal Kasperi Kapanen. The team lost their top 6 forwards, but a new wave of Finnish players are about to take their place.

    Key Returning Players: Veini Vehvilainen, Olli Juolevi, Vili Saarijarvi, Julius Nattinen, Kasper Bjorkqvist.
    Finland is coming back with two of the truly elite defensemen in this tournament. Olli Juolevi was one of the best defensemen last year, along with Zach Werenski and Ivan Provorov, at age 17. This year expectations will be high if Finland is competing for gold. Vili Saarijarvi is a tremendous puck moving defenseman who is property of the Red Wings. This will be his final year of the World Juniors. Most likely back stopping the Fins is Veini Vehvilainen who plays in Finland's top league. Julius Nattinen will most likely be Finland's top center and they will rely on him in all situations. Kasper Bjorkqvist will also be a player that Finland will rely on in all situations.

    Key Additions: Eeli Tolvanen, Kristian Vesalainen, Henrik Bjorgstrom, Urho Vaakanainen.
    The final rosters have not been officially announced yet, but it is believed that these players will be make the final roster. Tolvanen and Vesalainen are this year's Laine and Puljujarvi. The two 17 year old draft eligible players will need huge tournaments for Finland. Tolvanen is not a hulking figure like both Laine and Puljujarvi, but his speed and skill are off the charts. A comparable player that I thought of when I wrote about him in the past is Jeff Skinner. Vesalainen, on the other hand, is very similar to Puljujarvi in his build. Tall, lanky, and he can be a huge difference maker. Henrik Bjorgstrom was drafted by Florida this past year and is posting point per game numbers at the University of Denver. He is one of the sleepers on this roster who has the potential to really make a name for themselves. Urho Vaakanainen is a draft eligible denfenseman who is thought of as a mid 1st round potential pick. He is playing in Finland's top league at age 17 as a defenseman which speaks volumes about his skill and maturity.

    Omissions: None
    Strengths: Many elite draft eligible players, Size, Skill
    Weaknesses: Few returning stars

    TEAM SWEDEN
    Overview: Last year Sweden finished 4th after falling to USA 8-3 in their final game. Sweden was at a disadvantage for the tournament after losing William Nylander due to an injury early on. Like Finland, Sweden is losing some of their impact players from last year including Adrian Kempe, Oskar Lindblom, William Nylander, Dmytro Timashov, Axel Holmstrom, Andreas Englund, and goalie Linus Soderstrom. Although some of their key players are gone, Sweden's roster still looks promising.

    Key Returning Players: Jacob Larsson, Gabriel Carlsson, Alex Nylander, Rasmus Asplund, Carl Grundstrom, Joel Eriksson Ek.
    Sweden is returning with two elite defensemen, similar to Finland, in Jacob Larsson and Gabriel Carlsson. They are the prototypical Swedish defensemen who play both ends well and are great skaters. Alex Nylander will need another big scoring tournament for Sweden this year after finishing 6th in scoring last year as a 17 year old. He will be without Timashov, who played a key role on the powerplay last year. Asplund and Grundstrom will most likely be two of the replacements on the powerplay and they are two candidates for finishing as the leading scorer for Sweden this year. Joel Erikson Ek is going to be Sweden's Jonathan Toews in the sense that he will be the center that they rely on in crucial situations of the game.

    Key Additions: Rasmus Dahlin, Jacob Moverare, Oliver Kylington
    All three key additions for Sweden are defensemen. Starting with Rasmus Dahlin who is a 16 year old phenom playing in Sweden's top league right now and is eligible for the 2018 draft. Dahlin is incredible, and if he does make the final roster then he will be a player that will be impossible not to watch. Only the truly elite players play in this tournament at age 16 and for a defenseman to be able to do it is even greater of an accomplishment. Oliver Kylington is a player who came into the 2015 draft with many question marks and slipped to the Calgary Flames later in the draft than he was projected early in the year. He has been performing well down in the AHL and will look to help lead Sweden's defense. Jacob Moverare is not going to blow anyone away with his point scoring, but he is a solid defenseman who can log big PK minutes for Sweden and be reliable next to one of Sweden's more offensive guys.
    *Moverare was cut after this was posted

    Omissions: Timothy Liljegren
    Widely considered the potential #2 overall pick for the 2017 draft, Liljegren failed to get an invitation for this years World Juniors.
    Strengths: Strong Defense, Speed
    Weaknesses: Few Returning Forwards

    GROUP B
    Russia, USA, Canada, Slovakia, Latvia

    TEAM RUSSIA
    Overview: Russia is seeing the biggest change in their roster out of the top 5 teams, and there is some uncertainty about how well this team will play. They are losing three of their best players from last year (Ivan Provorov, Evgeny Svechnikov, Vladislav Kamenev) and are not returning with the same quality of players as teams like Finland, Sweden, USA, and Canada.

    Key Returning Players: Ilya Samsonov, Nikita Korostelov.
    Ilya Samsonov is the best goalie in the tournament this year, and he will have to stand on his head for Russia to compete for the gold medal. Washington's prospect will not have an easy time. Korostelov will need to be a big scorer in this tournament as one of Russia's few returning forwards.

    Key Additions
    : Mikhail Sergachev, Denis Guryanov, Yakov Trenin, German Rubtsov.
    Sergachev is Russia's best skater this year for the World Juniors and will need to take over the role that Provorov played last year. Guryanov and Trenin are two of Russia's older forwards who will be in top 6 scoring roles. German Rubtsov is an exciting prospect selected by the Flyers this past year and he will be one of Russia's key centers.

    Omissions: None
    Strengths: Great Goaltending
    Weaknesses: Few Returning Skaters, Weak Defense

    TEAM USA
    Overview: Team USA finished in 3rd place last year after beating Sweden 8-3. Last year's team was one of the best teams the USA has put together in recent years. USA is losing some key players including Alex Nedeljkovic, Brandon Carlo, Zach Werenski, Nick Schmaltz, Matthew Tkachuk, Christian Dvorak, Sonny Milano, and Auston Matthews. Despite the losses, Team USA are still coming back with a solid team.

    Key Returning Players: Charlie McAvoy, Colin White.
    Charlie McAvoy is going to lead the Team USA defense in ice time in all situations similar to Werenski last year. McAvoy is an all around great defenseman and should not have a major problem being the #1 guy. Colin White was one of USA's most important forwards last year and will most likely be featured on the top line this season.

    Key Additions: Jeremy Bracco, Erik Foley, Clayton Keller, Luke Kunin, Jack Roslovic, Tage Thompson.
    All the key additions this year are forwards. Jeremy Bracco and Clayton Keller were two guys who should have been on the team last year, but were left off the team. Both have incredible skill and will feature on the powerplay. Erik Foley has parts of Hornqvist/Simmonds in his game and loves to go in front of the net and battle. Luke Kunin will be one of USA's top penalty killers and take defensive zone draws. Jack Roslovic is another very skilled forward and is definitely one of the faster forwards in the tournament. Tage Thompson is one of USA's tallest players and fits the kind of player that the USA is looking to produce more of.

    Omissions: Alex Debrincat, Logan Brown
    As a USA fan, I can not understand why DeBrincat was left off the team. He is USA's most skilled forward along with Clayton Keller and he would most likely be their top scorer.
    Strengths: Strong/Skilled on the Wings, Depth at Forward Positions, Charlie McAvoy
    Weaknesses: Inexperienced Defense/Goalies, Not USA's Best Players, No 1st Line Center.

    TEAM CANADA
    Overview: Last year was Canada's most disappointing years in a long time. Every Canadian would like to forget about last year and move onto what looks like a promising team this year. They are losing players including Haydn Fleury, Travis Sanheim, Joe Hicketts, Brayden Point, Brendan Perlini, Anthony Beauvillier, Mitch Marner, Travis Konecny, and Jake Virtanen.

    Key Returning Players: Matthew Barzal, Thomas Chabot, Julien Gauthier, Dylan Strome, Mitchell Stephens
    Team Canada lucked out due to the fact that both Barzal and Strome did not make their respective NHL teams and are eligible for the tournament. This gives Canada two legit top 6 centers. Julien Gauthier should be able to be physically dominant this tournament and be a big point scorer. Mitchell Stephens is a very fast, tenacious forward who will look to be one of the leaders on a fairly new Team Canada. Thomas Chabot is returning to a completely new defense, but the new defense is seeing some huge improvements.

    Key Additions: Jake Bean, Dante Fabbro, Noah Juulsen, Phillipe Myers, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Tyson Jost, Taylor Raddysh.
    All the defensemen named will be key components to this Canadian team. Phillipe Myers is a guy who is not well known and is not talked about a lot, but he may end up being Canada's most important defender. Pierre-Luc Dubois is having a rough year in juniors and a rough tournament could hurt the way he is thought of around the league. Tyson Jost is Canada's most complete center and will get a a good amount of defensive zone draws. Taylor Raddysh is one of the best point scorers in juniors and will be familiar with Dylan Strome. That duo should be one of the better ones in the entire tournament.

    Omissions
    : There are many Canadian players who could have made the team.
    Strengths:Strong at Center, Skilled Defense, Good mix of Youth and Vets
    Weaknesses: Both Goalies never played in WJC

    My Projected Qualification Standings:
    1A: Finland(4-0)
    2A: Sweden(3-1)
    3A: Czech(2-2)
    4A: Switzerland(1-3)
    A Eliminated : Denmark(0-4)

    1B: Canada (4-0)
    2B: Russia(3-1)
    3B: USA(2-2)
    4B: Slovakia(1-3)
    B Eliminated : Latvia(0-4)

    Projected Elimiation Rounds
    1A vs 4B - Winner : Finland
    2A vs 3B - Winner : Sweden
    3A vs 2B - Winner : Russia
    4A vs 1B - Winner : Canada

    Final Four
    Finland vs Russia - Winner : Finland
    Canada vs Sweden - Winner : Sweden

    Finals
    1st place game - Finland vs Sweden - Winner : Finland
    3rd place game - Russia vs Canada - Winner : Canada
    My Projected MVP: Olli Juolevi


    Comment who you think will win the tournament
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2016
  2. ezione

    ezione Hall of Famer

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    Somalia will win
     
  3. frank p

    frank p Legend 2

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    They have great players
     
  4. Symyro

    Symyro Superstar

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    Great write up, one of the things I'm looking forward to is seeing team Russia as the Flyers have 2 center prospects playing for them this WJC (German Rubtsov and Mikhail Vorobyov) Vorobyov is being considered by some to be the favorite for 1st line center as he's currently playing a 3rd sometime 2nd line role in the KHL
     
  5. Crossfit Jesus

    Crossfit Jesus Legend 3

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    Hopefully Canada can pull out Gold this time around even thought our team got slightly weaker from last year. Home Ice Advantage will play huge part for them this time around.
     
  6. frank p

    frank p Legend 2

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    I've seen Rubtsov play and I like his game, but I have never seen Vorobyov. But if he's playing 2nd line center in the KHL already he must have something going on. The Russians do a good job picking the best 19 year olds available.
     
  7. frank p

    frank p Legend 2

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    I agree 100% that home ice advantage will be a factor this year, and I'll even go as far as saying that it probably was a factor for the North American guys last year.
     
  8. Frankie

    Frankie Hall of Famer 3

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    I'm hoping for Russia (and most likely Slovakia). It was just announced that Sergey Zborovsky made team Russia and Huska was the starting goalie for Slovakia last year and really impressed many so I really hope he can repeat his performance again. Really upset that Sean Day wasn't invited to team USA's camp over guys like Joe Cecconi.
     
  9. Leafer

    Leafer MVP PICK'EM CHAMP

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    Hope Canada wins this! Also hope Korostelev, Bracco, Woll, Grundstrom.
     
  10. frank p

    frank p Legend 2

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    I'm excited to see big Z play. And I agree with you that Huska was awesome last year. Team USA's player selection as a whole is very questionable. Last year was also awful with no Bracco, Connor, Garland, ect. USA hockey could use some new management. I selfishly wanted Day to make the team or atleast get an invite to camp as well.
     
  11. frank p

    frank p Legend 2

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    Must be tough with no Leafs on team Canada. First time in a while if i'm not mistaken.
     
  12. Frankie

    Frankie Hall of Famer 3

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    Day has potential. Phenomenal skater with size enjoying a good season with Windsor. He warranted an invite, but what can you do.
     
  13. Symyro

    Symyro Superstar

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    Vorobyov has a mans body already (I believe he's listed at 6'2 201) but he has pretty good hockey IQ, was playing a 4th line role in the KHL last season at 18
     

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