Prospects News & Rumors: WJC Quarterfinals, Zary & Cormier

The Quarterfinal matchups for the 2021 World Junior Championship are set and the games will take place on Saturday. The Vegas Golden Knights have signed third-round pick Lukas Cormier to an entry-level contract and the Calgary Flames have signed their 2020 first-round pick.

WJC Quarterfinal Matchups Set

The round robin stage for the 2021 World Junior Championship ended on New Year’s Eve with the Czech Republic earning a 7-0 win over Austria, Canada besting Finland 4-1 and the United States handing Sweden their second straight loss with a 4-0 victory. With those results, each team has played four games and the final standings are set heading into the knockout rounds. Canada finished undefeated atop Group A with Finland, Germany and Slovakia rounding out the remaining three teams moving on to the next round. Switzerland failed to win a game and finished bottom of the group.

Bowen Byram Devon Levi Canada Michal Mrazik Slovakia
Bowen Byram, Devon Levi of Canada defend against Michal Mrazik of Slovakia during the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship at Rogers Place on December 27, 2020 in Edmonton, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)

With their win against Sweden, the United States finished on top of Group B followed by Russia, Sweden and the Czech Republic. Austria also finished winless and sits at the bottom of the group. Heading into the Quarter Final, USA’s Trevor Zegras continues to lead the tournament in scoring with six goals and seven assists for 13 points. Canada’s Dylan Cozens is trailing close behind with six goals and five assists for 11 points. Germany’s wonder duo of Tim Stuetzle and John-Jason Peterka sit in a tie for third with 10 points each.

John Jason Peterka EHC Muenchen
EHC Red Bull Muenchen’s John Jason Peterka (GEPA pictures/ City-Press)

The Quarterfinals are set to take place on Saturday, Jan. 2, with Russia and Germany opening the day at 12 p.m. EST. Finland and Sweden renew their age-old rivalry with a showdown at 3:30 p.m. EST. Despite topping their group Canada faces a tough task in the Czech Republic at 6 p.m. EST. Last but not least, Team USA caps the night with a matchup against Slovakia at 10:30 p.m. EST. The Semifinals are scheduled for Jan. 4 with the Finals and bronze medal game taking place a day later on Jan. 5.

Golden Knights Sign Cormier

The Golden Knights announced on Thursday that they’ve agreed to a standard three-year, entry-level contract for defenseman Lukas Cormier.

Drafted 68th overall in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, he spent the 2019-20 season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) playing for the Charlottetown Islanders. He amassed six goals and 30 assists for 36 points in 44 games played and finished fifth in team scoring. He represented Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, winning a silver medal and going pointless in five games played.

Lukas Cormier Charlottetown Islanders
Lukas Cormier of the Charlottetown Islanders (Charlottetown Islanders)

After losing top prospect Erik Brannstrom in the trade that brought Mark Stone to Vegas, the Golden Knights needed to replenish their defensive prospect pool. Adding Cormier is exactly the type of move they need to make. He slid a bit, likely due to his size, but he’s a supremely talented skater and will look nice on a blue line with Shea Theodore. Some scouts had him in their first or second round, so this was tremendous value for the Golden Knights in the third round.

Before the 2020-21 QMJHL season was postponed due to COVID-19, Cormier registered seven goals and 14 assists for 21 points in 13 games played. An impressive start for the third-year defenseman that saw him lead all QMJHL defensemen in scoring while also sitting sixth in league scoring and third in team scoring.

Flames Lock Up Zary

The Flames announced on Thursday that they’ve agreed to a standard three-year, entry-level contract for center Connor Zary.

Drafted 24th overall in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, he spent the 2019-20 season in the Western Hockey League (WHL) playing for the Kamloops Blazers. He registered 38 goals and 48 assists for 86 points in 57 games played and finished fifth in league scoring and second in team scoring. He took part in the CHL Top Prospects Game and was named to the WHL (West) First All-Star Team.

Connor Zary Kamloops Blazers
Connor Zary of the Kamloops Blazers (Allen Douglas)

THW’s own Mathieu Sheridan had this to say about Zary’s fit with the Flames.

The Flames added another solid player to their pipeline in Zary. With solid prospects such as Jakob Pelletier, Juuso Valimaki and Dmitri Zavgorodniy, the future is definitely bright for the Flames. With Zary, the team is getting a really solid player. While he will need to develop his all-around game before he makes the jump, he has the potential to make a real impact the NHL level. He will be well-known in Calgary for a long time to come.

Zary is currently playing for Canada in the 2021 WJC. He has amassed two assists in four games played and will be part of the team that plays the Czech Republic in the Quarterfinal on Saturday. How his season will shape out after the WJC is unknown with the WHL season postponed indefinitely due to COVID-19.