The St. Louis Blues will have quite a presence at the 2022 World Junior Championships (WJC) in Edmonton. This will be a great tournament to watch regardless of which Blues prospects are there, it’s always a great event. The mix of prospects from the Blues organization will be interesting, with a first-round pick and a couple of mid-round picks.
Jake Neighbours – Canada
Jake Neighbours was a no-brainer for a loaded Team Canada. At 19 years old, he played nine games with the Blues this season and was returned to the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League (WHL). He is the captain of the Oil Kings and has proven to be a fantastic leader for them, even at his age. He is a perfect example of a Blues draft pick, he fits their style perfectly.
He has 18 points in 10 games since his return to the WHL, he’s been over a point per game in his last three seasons for the Oil Kings. He is very likely going to be competing to play in the NHL next season for a full season. He has 121 points in his last 93 WHL games. He will compliment any line he plays on for Canada in the WJC.
As for where he could fit in their lineup, I could see him playing on their fourth line, which isn’t really a fourth line. They have tons of center depth, so he could be playing with an elite center in this tournament. He’s a perfect fit for this team as a self-described “power forward with skill.”
He showed flashes with the Blues in his nine-game trial, he only had two points, but he played a solid 200-foot game. Either way, Neighbours was an obvious pick for this roster and will be a fantastic piece to help them win a second gold medal in three years.
Tanner Dickinson – United States
Tanner Dickinson is a quality example of a breakout season helping to lead a player to play in the WJC. He probably wouldn’t have made the roster without the strides he has made in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) with the Soo Greyhounds.
He was a fourth-round pick of the Blues in the 2020 draft and has quickly become one of their most dynamic prospects. His speed is going to make him one of the most fun players to watch on another talented U.S. squad.
He’s scored 33 points in 24 games with the Greyhounds this season, which is good for top-15 in the league. He had just 40 points in 64 games in his last season in the OHL, which was 2019-20, he’s made impressive improvements. He will have an opportunity to play with some elite wingers on this U.S. team, which is one of the strong points of this team.
This is a great opportunity for Dickinson, and hopefully, we can see him even more in the American Hockey League (AHL) next season as he continues to develop into a potential fourth-round steal.
Leo Lööf – Sweden
Leo Lööf will play for Team Sweden in the 2022 WJC, which means that three of the Blues picks in the first four rounds from the 2020 draft will be there. The one that won’t be playing is the Blues third-round pick right before Lööf which is Dylan Petersen, who was in the preliminary camp for the U.S.
Lööf could be one of the best defensive defensemen in the WJC, he is such a solid and dependable defender on the back-end. He will be a big presence for Sweden, his physicality is next level as well, a lot of what I’ve described is why the Blues were willing to use a third-round pick on him.
Some may think that it was a reach for them to take Lööf where they did, but if he continues to develop his body and puck skills, he could become a force. The Blues have been good at developing post-first-round defensemen, Colton Parayko and Niko Mikkola are solid examples of that.
Lööf has had a solid season with Ilves Tampere of SM-Liiga (Finnish Elite League), with six points in 26 games. He’s scored three goals, which is more than he scored in his last junior season in 2019-20 when he had two of them in 43 games.
While the overall tournament is a joy to watch, it’s going to be fun to watch and evaluate the Blues’ prospects with their respective teams. There will be an opportunity to see what Neighbours can do against the junior-level competition on a bigger stage than the WHL. I can’t wait to get a glimpse of the speedy Dickinson and see where Lööf is at in his development, it will be fun to watch and evaluate the 2022 WJC.
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Ethan Carter has been writing at The Hockey Writers for over three years now. He also co-hosts The Blue Note Podcast for the Bleav Network, which covers the Blues and the NHL multiple times per week.