Leafs at the 2017 World Juniors

The 2017 IIHF World Junior Championships are under three weeks away and rosters are starting to take shape. Teams are announcing the players that will be heading to their training camps in the next week or so and will whittle them down from there.

Now let’s get to the Toronto Maple Leafs. They have had some pretty good prospects in recent years, leading to more participation in the December and January tournament. It looks like the trend will continue this year if the players selected so far, make it to the final roster. The way these players have been playing in their respective leagues, they should have no problem with that.

Before we get to the players that have been named so far, the Leafs could have at least two more players in the tournament. Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews are both still eligible to play for Canada and the United States, respectively. However, the Leafs obviously won’t be loaning them to their respective countries.

Now let’s get to the Leafs that have been invited.

Team USA

Jeremy Bracco

Going into the season, everyone was saying that Marner was too good for the Ontario Hockey League. Everyone was right. However, there is another player that fits that description. Bracco jumped to the OHL from Boston College after only five games. In 49 games with the Kitchener Rangers, he managed to put up 21 goals and 64 points. He has continued to perform great this season and is on pace to smash those totals. In 24 games so far, he has 16 goals and 49 points. He is currently in third place in OHL scoring, behind only Taylor Raddysh and Alex DeBrincat of the Erie Otters.

If the Marlies didn’t have so much depth already, you could bet that Bracco would be playing with them. The thing is that the Leafs still need to sign him to a contract before he goes back into the draft. That shouldn’t be a problem.

Joseph Woll

The Leafs needed to pick a goalie in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. While they didn’t get one of the consensus top three goalies, they seem to have got a pretty good consolation prize in Woll. Playing in his first season with Boston College, he has a record of 9-5-1 with a save percentage of .919 and a goals against average of 2.44. That’s a pretty good start to his college career. Woll and Tyler Parsons will probably be battling it out with 2017 draft-eligible Jake Oettinger, for the starting job at training camp.

With Frederik Andersen set to be a Leaf for quite a while, and the Marlies goalies not looking too promising at the moment, Woll looks to have time to develop and very well could be the Leafs goalie of the future.

Team Russia

Nikita Korostelev

Like Bracco, Korostelev is yet to be signed by the Leafs. However, with the performance he’s putting on in Sarnia, he’s definitely in line for a contract. In his fourth season with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting, Korostelev also looks to be on pace to beat his career-high that was set two years ago. In the 2016-17 season, he has 15 goals and 31 points in 26 games.

While he probably has a long way to go, he should have been drafted much higher than the seventh round.

Team Sweden

Carl Grundstrom

The Leafs picked Grundstrom 57th overall and with his performance with Frolunda, he has pretty much been a given to be named to this squad. He has 13 points in 25 games and while that doesn’t seem as impressive as some of the others, remember that he is playing against men in the Swedish Hockey League. He only has three less points than he had last season in 24 less games.

Those are the four players that have been officially announced, but you can bet that Martin Dzierkals of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies will be named to Team Latvia. He has 12 goals and 27 points in 22 games.