The 2020 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship has come and gone, crowning the Canadians as the world champions. With the 2020 NHL Draft just over six months away, many hockey fans use the World Juniors to catch a glimpse of the prospects that will be available in June.
For a number of these prospects, the 2020 World Juniors provided a great look at some of the talents that will be breaking into the NHL in the coming years. With the World Juniors in the backburner, here’s a look at some of the draft-eligible standouts from the latest installment of the World Juniors.
Jamie Drysdale, Team Canada
Despite starting the tournament as the seventh defenseman for the Canadians, the top defender ahead of the 2020 NHL Draft, Jamie Drysdale, was a standout in the event. He got better and better as the tournament wore on, becoming a fixture for Team Canada in the elimination games. He put his speed on display, along with his wicked shot, and high hockey IQ. As the tournament wore on, he was given more responsibility and more playing time, which he used to his advantage. He finished the World Juniors with one goal and two assists in seven games.
Alexander Holtz, Team Sweden
Alexander Holtz came into the World Juniors known as a goalscorer and he didn’t disappoint, flashing his wicked shot on three occasions for three goals. He also had two assists, collecting five points in the tournament. He would have had more if not being robbed by some goaltenders and some posts. He may have played behind two of the best players in the entire tournament in Samuel Fagemo and Nils Höglander, but he provided secondary scoring when it was needed and was able to flash his skill. An example of scoring when it counts? He had the overtime winner against Finland in the round-robin. Goalies will be scared of this shot very soon.
Šimon Kubíček, Team Czech Republic
Despite being a lesser-known prospect, Šimon Kubíček had a very impressive tournament. The defender was a solid piece of the Czech backend, chipping in offensively with one goal, two assists, and three points. On top of this, the young defenseman played the second-most average minutes of the tournament, finishing at 23:34 per game. As a fresh 18-year-old in a U20 tournament, that’s a large number. For his efforts, he was named one of the top-three players on Team Czech Republic.
Jan Myšák, Team Czech Republic
Could Jan Myšák be the most underappreciated prospect ahead of the 2020 NHL Draft? Possibly. But not for long. The Czech forward had a strong tournament in his limited minutes, showing his offensive skill in his one goal and one assist, and his dynamic play – again, with limited ice time. With the tournament ending, news came out that Myšák will be headed to the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs. Those that are low on the Czech star (they’re out there) won’t be for long.
Alexis Lafrenière, Team Canada
Do you even need an explanation? Top-Three Player on Team Canada. Top Forward in the entire tournament. Oh, and he was named MVP. While helping the Canadians to the gold medal. He achieved all of this despite missing two games due to a scary-looking injury that threatened his tournament. Lafrenière is domination on skates. He put his talent on display, practically embarrassing his opponents.
His shot is absolutely incredible and when he has the puck, you’re not likely to get it back. There’s a reason he’s projected to be the top pick in June and we saw that on full display over the last week and a half. He finished the tournament with four goals, six assists and 10 points in five games – his 2.00 points per game were the highest of the tournament.
John-Jason Peterka, Team Germany
John-Jason “JJ” Peterka may not have been the most known name coming into the World Juniors, but he made sure everyone knows his name now. Team Germany was one of the most surprising teams of the tournament, and Peterka was a large part of that. The forward collected four goals, two assists, and six points. He scored some huge goals for the Germans with his terrifying shot. There’s a very good chance that Peterka could find himself in the first round come June.
Lucas Raymond, Team Sweden
Many people’s third-ranked prospect ahead of the draft, Lucas Raymond didn’t blow up the scoreboard, but he still played well and remains a top prospect in the draft. There was worry heading into the tournament that he might not make it due to illness, so that may have contributed to his slow start. But as the tournament went on, he got stronger, healthier and pulled this off:
Raymond stepped it up in the back-half of the tournament, collecting two goals, two assists, and four points in seven games. He rarely lost a puck battle and was a magician offensively. The team with the third pick in the draft is going to be very happy with Raymond.
Lukas Reichel, Team Germany
The second of the German trio eligible for the 2020 NHL Draft, Lukas Reichel looked very good in this tournament. He made himself known in every game while collecting three goals, two assists, and five points in seven games. Reichel showed a practically perfect shot on numerous occasions and a knack for making crisp passes. He has great speed that puts defenders on their heels, and there isn’t really anything to pick apart in his game. Likely a late first-rounder, Reichel is going to make the team that drafts him look very, very good.
Tim Stützle, Team Germany
Finally, the third member of the German trio, the pièce de résistance of Germany in the upcoming draft, Tim Stützle. He can make something out of nothing in the offensive zone, he may just be one of the best skaters of this draft, and when he’s on the ice, defenders take notice. He was all about helping the team in the tournament, collecting five assists in his five games. He missed the final two games of the tournament due to an illness, even still proving to be one of the best on his team. You should be very excited to watch him in the NHL, no matter the team he plays for.
Overagers That Impressed
On top of the players above, there were a few others worth noting, and many of which have been completely passed over in past drafts. From Team Finland, Kristian Tanus led the team in points, collecting two goals, seven assists, and nine points in seven games. Tanus stepped up his game with Anton Lundell and Rasmus Kupari out of the tournament, and it worked well for the team. He and Joonas Oden, who had three goals, three assists and six points in seven games, were a bit part of the Finnish offense.
Team Russia had goaltender Amir Miftakhov leading the way in net for them, with young Yaroslav Askarov apparently not ready to take the reins just yet (don’t worry, he’s still VERY elite). Miftakhov was one of the best netminders in the tournament, collecting a 2.12 goals against average and a .919 save percentage en route to a silver medal for the Russians.
Finally, Maxim Musorov of Team Kazakhstan deserves a mention. He was undeniably the best player for the now-relegated team and may have earned himself a draft spot later this year. Musorov showed his wicked shot in this tournament, collecting four goals and adding two assists for six points in seven games.
It’s important to note that one tournament doesn’t make a prospect. Yes, these players stood out, but there shouldn’t be much change in their rankings from just this tournament. Their league play and the many other international competitions throughout their draft year and the years prior all come together for that. But still, it’s one of the most entertaining tournaments out there and these prospects did not disappoint.
Starting out as an Ottawa Senators contributor for The Hockey Writers, Josh is now an editor and at-large contributor, focusing on prospects, the NHL Draft, hockey history, and breaking news stories.