As the 2021 World Junior Championship is fast approaching, let’s take a look at which Dallas Stars prospects are eligible to compete.
The Stars have two prospects that are eligible to compete for Team Canada for the 2021 World Juniors – Thomas Harley and Mavrik Bourque.
The Stars drafted Harley 18th overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. Since being drafted, the defenseman has spent two seasons playing with the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL. In those two seasons, he appeared in 59 games and recorded 18 goals and 39 assists.
Harley’s skating, acuity, and size are the main strengths of his game. He is one of the best skaters in the OHL and has adept decision-making skills. His size and skating ability make him deft during play transitions which makes him a highly valued prospect.
He does still have a ways to go in his development and needs to improve upon his physicality level before he joins the Stars at an NHL level.
The second Stars prospect that is eligible to compete for Team Canada for the 2021 World Juniors is Mavrik Bourque. Bourque was drafted 30th overall in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. Before being drafted, he spent two seasons playing with the Shawinigan Cataractes of the QMJHL.
In those two seasons, Bourque appeared in 113 games and recorded 54 goals and 71 assists. So far this season he’s appeared in four games and has recorded three goals and three assists.
Bourque does lack NHL speed as well as size but does make up for this in other aspects of his game. He has excellent playmaking abilities and creativity. He is also an accomplished goal scorer and despite his size, he isn’t afraid to go to the dirty areas and be physical.
However, in order to really contribute to the Stars organization on an NHL level, he will need to gain strength and work on his speed.
The Stars have two prospects that are eligible to compete for Team Sweden for the 2021 World Juniors – Daniel Ljungman and Samuel Sjölund.
Daniel Ljungman was drafted 154th overall in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. Prior to being drafted, Ljungman spent two seasons playing with the Linköping HC of the SHL and the Linköping HC J20. In those two seasons, he has appeared in 59 games and has recorded 22 goals and 18 assists.
He had a great performance during the past Hlinka Gretzky Cup tournament and ranked sixth in goals amongst all players that participated. However, in the SHL season that followed, he lacked that spark he previously showed, posting just 10 goals through 40 games. This significantly dropped his projected draft position from a potential first-rounder to a mid-third-rounder.
Ljungman’s strengths lie in his extensive hockey IQ while being such a young player, his stellar shot, and his ability to lead a rush.
However, he lacks in both physicality and size and will need to really improve upon both of those aspects of his game if he wants to not only reach but also succeed at the NHL level.
The final Stars prospect who is eligible to compete at this year’s World Juniors is Samuel Sjölund. Sjölund was drafted 111th overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
Since being drafted, Sjölund spent the last two seasons playing for AIK and the AIK J20 of the SuperElit league in Sweden. In those two seasons the defenseman has appeared in 55 games and has recorded seven goals and 15 assists.
Sjölund does well in transition plays and is able to use his speed to his advantage there, but he isn’t all that fast in longer-distanced skates and will need to improve upon that to be able to keep up at an NHL level.
He also has a good shot but it a bit too keen on getting a shot off rather than dropping back and taking a second look to try and develop a better scoring opportunity for a teammate.
This could be impacted by how fast-paced the SuperElit league is in its nature. Regardless, in order to be successful at the NHL level, he will need to improve upon that aspect of his game as well.
While neither Team Canada nor Team Sweden have put out official rosters for their World Juniors squads, Stars fans are surely hopeful at least one of these prospects will be on the final roster.