The 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship is about to kick off on Boxing Day (Dec. 26), the rosters are set, and the players are ready. Among those players are a great number of 2020 NHL Draft-eligible players that will be fighting for national gold. In fact, these World Juniors are going to have some of the most draft-eligible prospects in the history of the tournament.
To assist in your draft-eligible tracking, I’ve compiled a list of all these players in the tournament, which can be found at the bottom of this article. On top of that, I’ve highlighted 10 of these players that you are not going to want to miss.
Note: This list does not include players that have gone undrafted – only first-year eligibles.
Yaroslav Askarov, Team Russia
Coming into the tournament, Russian netminder Yaroslav Askarov is the top goalie. Heading into the draft he will be too. This young player could be a top-five pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, with the potential to be an absolute game-changer.
From the above link, I broke down Askarov’s game back in September. Here’s a snippet: “His upper body is like a statue that glides effortlessly across the crease. Yet, his legs are constantly moving. This allows him to consistently maintain his form while remaining square to the puck and being prepared to make a save. It’s exquisite to watch.”
I have no questions that Askarov will put on a show in this tournament despite being the youngest starter. He’s defeated teams on his own before (sorry, Team USA) and don’t be surprised if he does it again.
Quinton Byfield, Team Canada
The projected second-overall pick in the draft (almost exclusively but not quite), Quinton Byfield, will be dressing for Team Canada. At practice, Byfield has been on the wing of the second line and should be a massive part of this Canadian roster.
Related: 2020 WJC Team Canada Final Roster
From my colleague Peter Baracchini’s Team Canada roster preview above: “Byfield’s size is his greatest asset, as well as his shot. He was a key contributor for Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup this past summer and is looking to replicate his offensive presence in a tournament with players a year or two older. Despite the age difference, Byfield will be able to hold his own and will be able to produce up front.”
If Byfield is going to make a case for going first overall – well, if he’s going to build on this case – then he’ll need a great showing in the Czech Republic. Expect nothing less of the young star.
Jamie Drysdale, Team Canada
The Canadians have another top-10 (even top-five in some cases) projected pick and the undisputed top defenseman in the draft in Jamie Drysdale. Drysdale was a surprise by many to make this squad, but he’s here and you should be very excited about that.
Team Canada assistant coach André Tourigny has glowing reviews of the team’s youngest defender, telling TSN, “He’s a genius. Seriously, he’s so smart … everything you teach him he does it right away.”
Drysdale has incredible skating abilities and you should except those skills to be on full display in this tournament – much to the dismay of any opponents facing Canada.
Alexander Holtz, Team Sweden
Team Sweden should have any issues scoring goals, especially not when they have Alexander Holtz in their lineup. He’s an absolute offensive weapon that could dominate the scoresheet in the event. Mixed with his vision and his skating, he’s one to watch out for.
Holtz is projected by many to be a top-five pick in the draft. With all of the elite talent at the top though, he could slide a couple of spots, but there’s no question that this is a very special player. Make sure you circle all of Sweden’s games to watch this young man work.
Alexis Lafrenière, Team Canada
I’m sure you’ve heard this name before. The projected number-one pick in the draft, Alexis Lafrenière should be a catalyst for the Canadians in this event. He has the potential to be the best forward in the tournament and there’s a very good chance that he capitalizes on that.
The CHL leading scorer has been absolutely dominant this season, playing like he’s in a league above – which he will be very soon. He’s a dynamic offensive player, who has the ability to beat you in ways you haven’t even thought about having to defend.
If the Canadians stand a chance at medalling at the World Juniors, they’ll need Lafrenière to play at his top level. If you’ve been watching or following him this season, you know that that is an extremely high gear.
Dawson Mercer, Team Canada
To the surprise of many World Juniors followers, Dawson Mercer made this Canadian team and you should be excited at the chance to watch this player compete. The projected first-rounder will be a bottom-six guy, but an important piece of the Team Canada puzzle.
The biggest positive for Mercer is his need for the puck. He’ll battle along the boards, forecheck, and compete hard whenever he doesn’t have it and he’ll fight until it’s back on his stick. This tournament should see his fan following grow immensely after seeing him play.
Jan Myšák, Team Czech Republic
One of my favourite players of the Czech Republic team, Jan Myšák will soon be capturing the hearts of draft fans – if he doesn’t have it already. The Czech player is a projected top-15 pick in an absolutely wonderful draft, and if you aren’t sold on him yet, make sure to catch him in this tournament.
Myšák is one of those players who just does everything right. He still has to improve his game of course, like most players this age, but he’s a smart forward who makes good decisions, has a good shot, great vision, and is a solid puck handler. Make sure you try to catch at least one of his games.
Aatu Räty, Team Finland
Aatu Räty is not a 2020 NHL Draft-eligible prospect. He’s actually a 2021 draft-eligible player. More than that though, he’s actually the very early projected top pick for that draft. If you’re ready to start your homework early, the World Juniors will be your chance.
He’s incredibly shifty with the puck and is a very well-rounded forward. Making this U20 Finnish team at just 17-years-old is extremely impressive, especially when you consider that he’s the only 2021-eligible player participating in the entire event.
Lucas Raymond, Team Sweden
One of my favourite players in the 2020 NHL Draft is future superstar, Lucas Raymond. The Swedish sensation should be good to go for the World Juniors, despite a viral infection that threated his ability to play in the tournament.
Raymond is elite. Both on and off the puck, he’s a threat. He can score on the power play, he can defend on the penalty kill, he takes big chances and more often than not, they pay off. Many have begun to sour on Raymond this year, hoping for his production to be higher. I fully expect Raymond to impress in this event and put those worries to rest.
Tim Stützle, Team Germany
One last player that I need to highlight is Team Germany’s Tim Stützle. The young player has been shooting up the rankings this year, and for good reason – he’s elite.
He has excellent skating, he can make plays, and honestly, there isn’t much he can’t do. He’s one of the most dynamic players in this draft and many have taken notice of that. For anyone that hasn’t, the World Junior will provide that.
Starting the season just outside the top-10 for many draft rankings, Stützle has played himself into top-five consideration. He should use the World Junior to further that argument.
Full List of 2020 NHL Draft-Eligibles at the World Juniors
- Stanislav Alexandrov, Team Kazakhstan
- Yaroslav Askarov, Team Russia
- Quinton Byfield, Team Canada
- Jamie Drysdale, Team Canada
- Oliver Fatul, Team Slovakia
- Maxim Groshev, Team Russia
- Alexander Holtz, Team Sweden
- Karel Klikorka, Team Czech Republic
- Simon Knak, Team Switzerland
- Samuel Knazko, Team Slovakia
- Artyom Korolyov, Team Kazakhstan
- Simon Kubicek, Team Czech Republic
- Radek Kucerik, Team Czech Republic
- Alexis Lafrenière, Team Canada
- Nick Malik, Team Czech Republic
- Dawson Mercer, Team Canada
- Jan Myšák, Team Czech Republic
- Maxim Pavlenko, Team Kazakhstan
- John-Jason Peterka, Team Germany
- Jaromir Pytlik, Team Czech Republic
- Adam Raska, Team Czech Republic
- Lucas Raymond, Team Sweden
- Lukas Reichel, Team Germany
- Ansar Shaikhmeddenov, Team Kazakhstan
- Marko Stacha, Team Slovakia
- Tim Stützle, Team Germany