World Juniors Championships Players To Watch

Christopher Ralph – THW’s Flames, Draft and Prospect Correspondent

The WJC U20s are well underway in Saskatchewan, Canada. Sweden have already hammered the Czech -Republic 10-1 in a surprisingly lop-sided fashion. Canada are not so surprisingly in the process of ripping apart the squad from Latvia (16-zip was the final).

In my review of the pre-tourney tilt between Team Canada and Finland, I’ve already highlighted in detail players to watch from those specific countries. What follows is an overview of players to watch throughout the tournament – some obvious; some not so obvious.

{Click on players name for link for more detailed profile where applicable.}

Team CanadaClick HereRyan Ellis {TotalPhoto: Leon T Switzer}

*Click link above for more detail, but undeniably my eyes will be focused on Taylor Hall, Ryan Ellis, Brandon Kozun, Brayden Schenn and Jordan Eberle. I’ll be also interested to see how 7th d-man Calvin de Haan performs at this level.

– As I just finish up watching Canada’s domination of Latvia, Gabriel Bourque just put on a clinic, tying a record for Canada with 7 points (3G, 4A) in the game. Nice start indeed for the QMJHL forward!

FinlandClick Here

*Again, click link above for a more detailed overview. I’m excited to see more of goalie Joni Ortio, 2010 draft eligible Mikael Granlund, Toni Rajala and blueliner Sami Vatanen.


– Even without two guys who would’ve challenged for best blueliner in the tournament – Victor Hedman and Erik Karlsson – Sweden possesses a strong and mobile group of rear guards. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, aka “OEL”, David Rundblad, and Tim Erixon were a trio of defensemen drafted in the 1st round this past June and will anchor an impressive blueline. Eyes will also be on Adam Larsson who is projected to have a shot at going 1st overall in the 2011 draft. He already has one goal in the tournament today  against the Czech Republic.

David Rundblad {Kevin Prahl – Flickr}

– Possibly the best goalie outside the NHL as a 19 year old, the top goaltender in the tournament a year ago Jacob Markstrom will be out for revenge in his mediocre performance in the finals last year against Canada. The pre-tourney game against Canada didn’t help his confidence though – a 6-2 loss in which he was pulled.

– Sweden has plenty of skill up front as well. Keep your eyes on Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, Mattias Tedenby, Jacob Josefson, Carl Klingberg and Marcus Johansson.

– Chicago Blackhawk prospect Marcus Kruger, a potential 5th round steal this past June, is having an outstanding season in the SEL (Swedish Elite League), averaging almost a point-per-game.

United States

– 2010 eligible netminder Jack Campbell has been compared to a healthy Rick Dipietro (for better or worse).

– Blueliner Cam Fowler is a potential top 3 pick next June.

– Rear guard John Carlson is an impressive mix of size, skating and skill.

Jordan Schroeder should be the main offensive threat up front. It will be interesting to see the powerful thoroughbred skater Chris Kreider perform at this level. Jerry D’Amigo, Kyle Palmieri and Jeremy Morin could surprise some.


– At the beginning of the year, you would be hard pressed to guess forward Nikita Filatov would find his way on this roster for the simple fact the Blue Jackets would be wanting his services. Fast forward a couple of months later, he’s averaging over a PPG in the KHL and will challenge for top forward in the tournament.

– Netminder Igor Bobkov has the ability to stand stong in goal

Dmitri Orlov is an effective puck-moving blueliner.

Dmitri Orlov {www.russian}

– Russia has some dynamic forwards who are eligible for the 2010 draft – Vladimir Tarasenko, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Mazim Kitsyn are three in particular to watch closely. Unfortunately, Kirill Kabanov will be sidelined with a wrist injury.


– Slovakia will only go as far as offensive sparkplugs Richard Panik and Tomas Tatar take them. Late round selection Marek Veidensky should provide some support scoring.

Czech Republic

– Off to a rough start with a 10-1 thrashing at the hands of Sweden, they will rely on Tomas Vincour, Andrej Nestracil and Stepan Novotny to lead the way.


–  Netminder Benjamin Conz was generously rated as the 53rd best prospect in THN’s draft preview, but went undrafted this past June. Let’s see if THN knows something NHL scouts do not.

– Ducks defenseman Luca Sbisa is a solid two-way blueliner and has already had a drink of water in the NHL. Predators 2nd round pick Roman Josi is another one to watch on the blueline.

– NHL scouts will have their eyes focused on forward Nino Niederreiter. The WHL rookie leads the league in rookie scoring forward and has a great shot at landing in the first round in the 2010 entry draft.

Christopher Ralph

  • Pingback: World Junior Hockey Tournament 2010 | SJR()