It may have only been four months since the 2022 World Junior Championship (WJC) was held in Edmonton, but it is already time for the 2023 WJC to get underway. The Minnesota Wild are set to be well represented once again, with five prospects suiting up to play for five different countries. The Wild’s recent success at drafting solid prospects from the later rounds has been highlighted in this year’s tournament, as three of their players are from the third round or later.
Ohgren Leads Forward Firepower
Liam Ohgren – Team Sweden
The 19th overall pick and the Wild’s first selection from the 2022 Draft will be a key offensive piece on a strong team from Sweden. Liam Ohgren’s 6-foot-1 frame helps him play a heavy game on the wing, as he has seven points in his last five games with Djugardens in HockeyAllsvenskan.
Ohgren had a quiet performance in August with only one point but is expected to play a more elevated role in the current lineup, potentially getting first-line and power-play duties. This will be the first good look for Wild fans at someone who will be on the NHL roster in a couple of years.
Caeden Bankier – Team Canada
The 6-foot-2 center Caeden Bankier was not a player on many people’s radar at the start of the season. Somehow the Wild’s third-round pick in 2021 had such a good start with the Kamloops Blazers in the Western Hockey League (WHL) that he made his way onto an absolutely stacked Team Canada selection camp.
Related: 2023 Guide to the World Junior Championship
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While he was not even at the selection camp for the 2022 WJC, let alone on the team, his 33 points in 24 games showed that he was on another level this season. He carried that momentum into the selection camp and will debut on the fourth line as part of a team that is favoured for the gold.
Servac Petrovsky – Team Slovakia
He may be small, but this 5-foot-nine rocket of a center is well on his way to being the steal of the 2022 Draft, as the Wild snagged him all the way in the sixth round. Petrovsky is a point-per-game player in the Ontario Hockey League with the Owen Sound Attack and was a no-brainer to make this year’s World Juniors after a fantastic 2022 tournament in August. At only 18, he managed two goals and an assist in four games on the top line, he was awarded player of the game against Team Finland and named a top three player in the tournament for Slovakia. A few months older and with some experience under his belt, Petrovsky has some major potential for the 2023 tournament.
Peart Headlines Defensemen
Jack Peart – United States
Jack Peart may have been a second-rounder for the Wild in 2021, but there were points where he looked like he could have been taken earlier. The returning 5-foot-11 defenseman drew into four of the United States’ five games in the 2022 WJC on the third line, putting up two assists while playing mostly under the radar. While Peart may not be as flashy as some of the other defensemen on the roster, he has been having a solid year at St. Cloud State University with 15 points in 18 games, including two goals and five assists in his last five before the World Juniors. Expect the mobile blueliner to play a significant part in any success for the States at this year’s tournament.
David Spacek – Czechia
Another potential gem plucked from the later rounds of the 2022 Draft by the Wild, David Spacek is a 6-foot, right-handed defenseman that is currently lighting up the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) by producing 26 points in 29 games with the Sherbrooke Phoenix. Spacek may have only had one assist in seven games at the 2022 WJC, but his efforts were vital in getting his team to the bronze-medal game. He was rewarded by being named a top-three player for Czechia, and it appears he may be primed for yet another big tournament.
Quantity, Quality, and Variety
While not every prospect gets the opportunity to represent their country in the World Junior Championship, and not every player that makes their country’s team will go on to play in the NHL, it can be a good indicator that they are on the right path. That is good news for the Wild, who have had nine different prospects represent them between the 2022 WJC and the upcoming 2023 WJC, with four of those players active in both.
A total of five defensemen, three forwards, and a goalie were among those representing five different countries in addition to the Wild, ranging from first-round stars all the way to sixth-round long shots. The Wild continue to develop one of the best prospect systems in the entire NHL, and there is no doubt that fans will likely have another group of youngsters to cheer for in 2024.