The 2021 World Junior Championship (WJC) is a few days away. The Vancouver Canucks have two players representing them this year, with Vasili Podkolzin on Team Russia and Arvid Costmar on Team Sweden. The two have an opportunity to join former Canucks in putting together an impressive performance at the WJC.
Nils Hoglander is a recent example of a player who impressed at the WJC. Hoglander scored five goals and 11 points in seven games to help Sweden finish in third place at the 2020 WJC. He followed in the footsteps of a few other former Canucks who dominated at the WJC in the past.
5. Pavel Bure – 1989
Before earning the nickname “The Russian Rocket” in Vancouver, Bure dominated at the WJC, as he showed off his elite scoring ability. The Russian appeared in the tournament on three separate occasions.
In 1989, Bure made his first appearance at the WJC and played on a line with Alexander Mogilny and Sergei Fedorov. The trio combined to score 19 goals and posted 38 points on their way to winning a Gold medal.
Bure and the Soviet Union’s goaltender Aleksey Ivashkin were named to the 1989 WJC all-star team. Bure finished the tournament tied with Jeremy Roenick in goals with eight and third in points with 14.
4. Alex Mogilny – 1988
Mogilny’s time as a Canuck isn’t the most memorable, he played 312 games with the club, second behind his 381 games with the Buffalo Sabres. Mogilny and Fedorov dominated the tournament a year before Bure joined the duo.
Although the USSR failed to capture gold, losing to Team Canada in the finals, Mogilny had a great tournament statistically. He led the tournament with eight goals and 18 points in seven games. Mogilny’s 18 points rank 10th all-time in a single WJC tournament. Along with Fedorov, he was on the 1988 WJC all-star team.
3. Cody Hodgson – 2009
Hodgson was once the future of the Canucks franchise, and his performance at 2009 WJC continued to generate hype for the forward. Hodgson scored five goals and a tournament-leading 16 points as Canada won gold. He finished the tournament on the all-star team alongside his Team Canada teammates John Tavares and P.K. Subban.
Hodgson’s 16 points in six games gave him a 2.67 points per game played (P/GP). His 2.67 P/GP is the second-best by any Canadian player in WJC history behind Wayne Gretzky’s 2.83 P/GP. Hodgson struggled to transfer his success at the WJC and his junior hockey career to the NHL. Injuries plagued the forward’s career as he played 328 games over seven seasons, which led to his early retirement.
2. Bure – 1991
Months before his rookie season in the NHL, Bure showed off his scoring ability in his third and final appearance with Russia at the 1991 WJC. He tied a record for goals in WJC history while he led Russia to silver.
The Russian Rocket scored 12 goals and tied Czechoslovakia’s Vladimir Ruzicka, who set the record in 1983. Bure’s 12 goals added to his total, giving him 27 goals in 21 games, the most goals in WJC history. He still holds the record 30 years after his last appearance.
1. Markus Naslund – 1993
Naslund’s performance in the 1993 WJC stands out to this day. The former Canuck captain scored 13 goals, setting a tournament record, and posted 24 points in seven games. His 24 points are second all-time, behind his 1993 linemate Peter Forsberg, who posted 31 points in the same tournament. Although Naslund and Forsberg put together historic performances, Sweden failed to capture gold and settled for silver.
Naslund was one of the tournament’s All-Stars due to his stellar play. His performance did not translate to the NHL immediately, as he struggled in his first few seasons, but the Swedish forward managed to post 756 points in 884 games as a Canuck.
Canucks Have Set High Expectations for WJC
Multiple Canucks have had impressive performances at the WJC. Naslund and Bure hold the two best scoring performances in the history of the tournament. Both of them have had their jersey numbers retired by the Canucks, as well.
Some of the greatest Canucks have played great at the WJC before playing in the NHL. Podkolzin, the organization’s top prospect, will have an opportunity to show off his skillset this year.
Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.