As the 2021 World Junior Championship comes to end, and with the 2020-21 NHL season just around the corner, let’s look at some of the top Chicago Blackhawks’ prospect performers from the tournament.
Due to COVID-19 and injuries that were suffered prior to the preliminary games, a couple of Blackhawks’ prospects did not have the opportunity to make an impact on their respective teams.
Those players include Lukas Reichel of Germany, who they drafted 17th overall at the 2020 Draft, tested positive for COVID-19 right before the start of the tournament, and was obviously unable to play.
During a pre-competition game against Russia, yet another Blackhawks’ prospect in Kirby Dach went down with an injury after an awkward hit when he collided with Russian centre Ilya Safonov in the neutral zone.
It was later determined that the former No. 3 pick had suffered a broken wrist, forcing him to miss the WJC. To go along with that, Dach will miss the start of the 2020-21 NHL season with the Blackhawks, which left the team with only three prospects at the WJC — Michal Teply (Czech), Michael Krutil (Czech), and Landon Slaggert (U.S.A.)
Teply was among the top performers among Blackhawks’ prospects in this past WJC, as he finished with two assists and two points through five games for the Czech Republic.
The Czechs finished the WJC tournament near the bottom of their group with two wins and two losses, putting them ahead of just Austria, who finished with four losses and zero wins.
Similar to last year when the Czechs lost to Sweden 5-0 in the opening round elimination games, Teply and the Czechs had an early exit when it came to the knockout round this year, as they were matched up with an undefeated Canadian team, losing in the first round 3-0.
Michael Krutil, who the Blackhawks drafted in the 2020 NHL Draft (110th overall), was also on the Czech roster along with
Despite appearing in four games, Krutil had a minimal effect on the team, as he was one of the younger players on the squad, and we should expect him to have a more prominent role in the next WJC tournament in 2022.
Left-winger and third-round draft pick Landon Slaggert of the United States’ squad was the only Blackhawks’ prospect in the 2021 WJC to walk away with a gold medal, let alone any hardware at all, as they defeated the highly talented Canadian team 2-0.
The United States finished at the top of their group with nine points, three wins and one loss, which came against Russia in their first game, losing 5-3. The Americans had a close call during their semifinal game when they went up against Finland, as they won by just one goal, winning 4-3 and advancing them to the gold medal game.
This is the United States’ first gold medal since 2017 when they defeated Canada to claim gold as they came back from a two-goal deficit, winning the game 5-4 in a shootout.
The Blackhawks drafted Slaggert in the 2020 NHL Draft (79th overall), and he will have another shot at gold next year, as they will be back in Edmonton and Red Deer for the 2022 WJC.
Overall, the Blackhawks’ prospect that performed the best has to be Slaggert as he was a part of a gold medal team with the Americans and will definitely move up into the second or first line for Team USA in 2022.