2022 WJC Day 2 Preview

Day 1 of the World Junior Championship (WJC) featured three games, only one of which was close. Czechia faced down its former countrymen in Slovakia and escaped with a narrow 5-4 victory. But the United States and Finland handled their business against Germany and Latvia, respectively. Now on Day 2, we’ll see the debut of two traditional powerhouses, Sweden and the host nation Canada, who will both be looking to give the same signature performers as the Finns and the Americans before them. Let’s take a look at all the action that’s set to kick off at 2:00 PM ET today in Edmonton.

Sweden vs. Switzerland (2:00 PM)

Sweden: Team Roster

Switzerland: Team Roster

Sweden has historically been the proverbial bridesmaid of the WJC. They mounted an unbelievable 54-game undefeated streak in preliminary round action for exactly 15 years — from Dec. 31, 2006, to Dec. 31, 2020 — but were only gold medalists once (2012) in that time period. Their only other win in tournament history came in 1981. But now, they’ll enter the WJC with that weight off their shoulders and with arguably the best goaltending prospect in hockey, Jesper Wallstedt, between the pipes. He only played in two games at last season’s tournament but looked strong in both, carrying a 2.40 goals-against average (GAA) and a .923 save percentage (SV%).

Jesper Wallstedt Sweden
Jesper Wallstedt, Sweden, 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)

Wallstedt will be looking to backstop his nation back to glory ahead of Sweden hosting the tournament next season. And he’ll be joined by a top-end defensive prospect, Simon Edvinsson. The Detroit Red Wings surprised some analysts by taking him sixth overall, but judging by Steve Yzerman’s keen eye for under-the-radar defensive prospects (Moritz Seider, anyone?), he’ll certainly be a player to watch closely at this tournament.

Switzerland is, as ever, short on stars, though they do have a few NHL-drafted players to keep an eye on. Most notably, Simon Knak is coming for the fifth time as team captain, an impressive streak in its own right. The 2021 sixth-round pick of the Nashville Predators will be looking to prove he has what it takes to earn a shot in the NHL, but the going won’t be easy. Sweden’s streak may not be historic anymore, but all signs point to their building on it here.

Favorite: Sweden

Players to Watch: Jesper Wallstedt, G [MIN], Simon Edvinsson, D [DET] (SWE); Simon Knak, F [NSH] (SUI)

Latvia vs. Canada (6:00 PM)

Latvia: Team Roster

Canada: Team Roster

Latvia is not going to have a fun tournament. Late replacements for the banned Russians (and Belarussians, who would have been the first-choice replacement), Latvia is the obvious odd-man-out in a strong Group A, they were shelled by Finland 6-1 in their first game, and now, they have to move directly onto the host nation and presumptive favorite, Canada. Klavs Veinbergs, a 2022 seventh-round pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning, scored the team’s lone goal, and he’ll look to continue his hot streak on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Canadians will be more than excited to finally get on the ice. Though their program is mired in controversy, the players at this year’s tournament have nothing to do with it, and they’ll be looking to do what Canada always expects to do at the WJC: win gold. They’ll be led into battle by Connor Bedard, the presumptive first overall pick in next year’s draft, one of just seven Canadian players who have ever played in the World Junior Championship as a 16-year-old. Every name on that list of seven is a hall of fame or fringe hall of fame player, including Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid, and Wayne Gretzky, so Bedard will be anxious to continue to prove that he belongs in that group.

Connor Bedard, Regina Pats
Connor Bedard, Regina Pats (Photo Credit: Keith Hershmiller)

Of course, Bedard won’t be alone, as Canada is never short on talent. Top-drafted players like Kent Johnson (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Mason McTavish (Anaheim Ducks) are sprinkled all through the lineup. If there is a weakness, it could be on defense, which lacks the immediate name recognition of their forward corps. But Canada enter the tournament as the presumptive favorites, and there’s no reason to think they won’t prevail easily in their first contest against Latvia.

Favorite: Canada

Players to Watch: Klavs Veinberg, F [TBL] (LAT); Connor Bedard, F, Kent Johnson, F [CBJ] (CAN)

Germany vs. Austria (10:00 PM)

Germany: Team Roster

Austria: Team Roster

Germany had a tough draw in their own right on night one of the tournament, facing down the United States in the late-night matchup. 24 hours later, their road looks a little more manageable against Austria. Joshua Samanski, a 20-year-old undrafted forward, scored their lone goal in the 5-1 loss to the Americans. He’ll look to continue that against the Austrians, who should be easier to overcome.

Austria will be looking to avoid the same fate they suffered last year when they went winless with a minus-28 goal differential. Now having wasted their time with Marco Rossi on the team, they’ll be looking to chart a path forward with an offensive group highlighted by Luca Auer, who could be playing with Bedard on the Regina Pats this season. The Germans have done enough — and the Austrians have struggled enough — that they should be considered the favorites entering this one. But this has the potential to be a close game, and hockey-starved fans should keep an eye on it on Wednesday night.

Favorite: Germany

Players to Watch: (GER); Luca Auer, F (AUS)

Canada in Action

Day 2 of the tournament will be all eyes on Canada. The host nation has elite star power and the presumptive next superstar of the NHL. Their marquee game against Latvia will be can’t-miss. But don’t sleep on either of the other matchups, either. It should be a fun day of action at the WJC.

Team CanadaPlayers to WatchRoster
Team USAPlayers to WatchRoster
Team AustriaPlayers to WatchRoster
Team CzechiaPlayers to WatchRoster
Team FinlandPlayers to WatchRoster
Team GermanyPlayers to WatchRoster
Team LatviaRoster
Team SlovakiaRoster
Team SwedenPlayers to WatchRoster
Team SwitzerlandPlayers to WatchRoster

Guide to the 2022 World Junior Championship

2022 World Juniors Schedule, Groups, Rosters, Predictions & More

One Player to Watch From Each Team

10 Things to Watch For

Breakout Candidates & Sleeper Prospects

Predictions for the 2022 World Junior Championship

Award Contenders and Predictions

Roster Breakdown by NHL Team

2022 World Juniors: 2023 Draft-Eligible Players to Watch

6 Predictions for the 2022 World Junior Championship

All Your THW 2022 World Junior Championship Coverage