Alex Nedeljkovic may have already gone back to the Plymouth Whalers, but the Carolina Hurricanes still have two prospects competing in the 2015 World Junior Championships: Sergei Tolchinsky of Russia and Lucas Wallmark of Sweden. Both forwards had strong showings in their quarterfinal games, and tomorrow they’ll face each other in the semifinals. Let’s take a look at what they’ve each done so far, and what we could expect out of them tomorrow.
Tolchinsky, passed over in the 2013 NHL Draft and signed by Carolina out of camp as a free agent invite, has been a force this season both with his OHL team, the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, and with Team Russia at the World Junior Championships. Tolchinsky was responsible for one of the shootout goals in Russia’s shootout win over Denmark in the preliminary round, and scored what would become the eventual game-winner in the quarterfinal against the USA when he deflected a shot past American goaltender Thatcher Demko on the power play. He currently has 3 points in the tournament, all of which have been goals.
Tolchinsky may be small, but he’s skilled, and is a very creative player. He’s not afraid to take risks in the offensive zone, and Russia could use that against a team like the one Sweden is icing this year. Russia has become more responsible defensively as the tournament has progressed, but Sweden has already beaten them once. To move on, they’re going to need all of their offensive players to be at their best. Thankfully for them, Tolchinsky appears to be just heating up.
Wallmark, drafted in Carolina in the 4th round of the 2014 NHL Draft, is an intriguing player. His hands, as well as the way he sees the ice, are superb, but many scouts believed his skating could use improving. He’s looked pretty good in this tournament so far, though, with 5 points (3G, 2A). One stat that caught my eye is that Wallmark is currently shooting at about 60%—those 3 goals have come on only 5 shots on goal. Obviously that’s not sustainable over the long-term, but it will be interesting to see if he can ride it through the end of the short tournament.
Wallmark scored two goals, one of which was an empty-netter, in Sweden’s quarterfinal defeat of Finland, and he and his teammates shouldn’t be underestimated by the Russian players. Surrounded by players like William Nylander, Gustav Forsling, and Adrian Kempe, Wallmark brings excellent hockey sense to an already strong Swedish team.
One of your prospects is going to the gold medal game, Canes fans. Who would you put your money on it being?