As the World Junior Hockey Championship wrapped up on Monday, the Canucks had to like what they saw from their three prospects playing in the tournament.
There is a lot of variation between the three players since they all play different positions, but none of them disappointed with their play.
Only one of the three players left the tournament with a medal around his neck. However that wasn’t the one prospect who really stood out among the three.
Here is a look at the players who represented the Canucks during the tournament.
3. Jake Virtanen: Canada (2014- 1st round 6th overall)
Virtanen’s versatility was key to Team Canada at the World Juniors. He found himself on three different lines throughout the competition. He started the tournament playing on Canada’s fourth line. After some impressive early play he found himself playing on the second line beside Connor McDavid and Curtis Lazar.
His offensive prowess and physical ability allowed head coach Benoit Groulx to trust him anywhere in the line-up. The Canucks have to be pleased with the scoring ability he has shown along with his physical nature.
His physical presence didn’t go unnoticed for the Canadian squad. While his secondary scoring was a nice touch on a loaded Canadian offence, he gave the team some much-needed physicality.
Jake Virtanen definitely drinks malt liquor with breakfast.
— Travis Yost (@travisyost) December 31, 2014
Virtanen put up similar numbers to a Canuck prospect who played in the tournament last year, Bo Horvat. Horvat had a goal and two assists through seven games, while Virtanen registered a goal and three assists after seven games.
2. Thatcher Demko: United States (2014, 2nd round, 36th overall)
The United States had a three-headed monster in net heading into the tournament with Brandon Halverson, Alex Nedeljkovic, and Thatcher Demko. The Canucks second-round draft pick ended up starting four of the five games for the United States with outstanding numbers.
He posted a .938 save percentage in four games during the tournament, and kept his team in a game against Canada where they were being badly out-shot. Here is one of the big saves he made during the game which kept it close.
Unfortunately for the United States, that loss against Canada meant playing Russia instead of Denmark. Demko wasn’t superb against Russia when the USA was eliminated from the tournament.
However the winning goal was a fluke redirection that Demko couldn’t be blamed for. It is unlikely that the Americans would have been any closer to beating Canada on New Years Eve without Demko in net.
He proved why he was the top goalie drafted in the 2014 NHL entry draft with his strong performance at the juniors.
1. Gustav Forsling: Sweden (2014, 5th round, 126th overall)
Forsling is the biggest surprise among the three Canucks prospects in this tournament. His role for Sweden cannot be undervalued as he has played superb hockey throughout the competition.
He led the tournament in points from defencemen, with eight points through seven games. His three powerplay goals were second-most in the tournament behind teammate Adrian Kempe.
His success as a powerplay quarterback is one of the main reasons for his point production in the tournament.
Forsling for PP QB in 2018.
— Wyatt Arndt (@TheStanchion) January 2, 2015
His success may come as a bit of a surprise based on the other defencemen Sweden have in this tournament. He is the lowest draft pick of seven Swedish defencemen on their World Junior roster other than Sebastian Aho, who isn’t draft eligible until this June.
However he has easily been the best defencemen on the Swedish team, if not their best player. As the tournament wrapped up, he was named the top defenceman by TSN.
His success at the tournament hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Canucks, and he deserves to be the best of their prospects at the tournament.