Christopher Ralph is THW’s prospect and draft analyst
Hockey fans look forward to Christmas; Die hard hockey fans look more forward to Boxing Day and the start of the World Junior Championships!
This is meant to be a quick guide and reference for the quickly approaching 2011 World Junior Championships U20s starting Boxing Day in Buffalo, NY.
Part 2 highlighted some of the young guns who are vital to the success of the other contending nations – the favoured defending champions USA, along with Sweden and Russia (the latter two have yet to release final rosters).
Probable key contributors from other countries will now be featured here in Part 3.
Note: Where applicable, for much more information including NHL player comparisons and offensive and defensive potential, click on player’s name for a detailed prospect profile I completed for the player in his draft year.
Toni Rajala (Edmonton Oilers) – fast, shifty and incredibly creative forward.
Joonas Nattinan (Montreal Canadiens) – “a reliable, good-size, two-way forward who possesses good puck control ability. He is very efficient in the faceoff circle. At the WJC (2010 he won more than 63 percent, according to THN.”
Sami Vatanen (Anaheim Ducks) – the slippery and savvy smaller blueliner may contend for the top defenseman in the tournament.
Mikael Granlund (Minnesota Wild) – unfortunately, a concussion will keep the dynamic forward out of this year’s tournament.
Joel Armia (2011 Eligible) – is ripping up Finland’s top men’s league and has yet to be drafted.
Erik Haula (Minnesota Wild) – will likely prove to be a 7th round steal for the Wild. Haula leads the Gophers (Minnesota – NCAA) with 12 assists in 18 games this year and is tied for third on the team with 15 points.
Nino Niederreiter (New York Islanders) – “El Nino” had a breakout party in last years WJCs; let’s see what he does for an encore.
Sven Bartchi (2011 Draft Eligible) – “El Nino” Part Deux? The small, but craft, shifty and talented forward has lit up the Dub in his first year; the Portland Winterhawks have masterly scouted Switzerland unearthing great talents.
Benjamin Conz (Undrafted) – the diminutive goaltender has performed admirably for the Swiss in previous WJCs.
Tomas Filippi (2011 Draft Eligible) – the speedy forward with a lightning quick release on his shot went undrafted in 2010; don’t expect that to happen come June 2011.
Petr Straka (Columbus Blue Jackets) – the crafty forward has nice hands, playmaking ability to go with stellar foot speed.
Andrej Nestrasil (Detroit Red Wings) – the big and skilled forward has 36 point in 29 games in the Q thus far this season.
Jakub Culek (Ottawa Senators) – The 6’4” skilled forward has seemingly regressed this season in the QMJHL.
Petr Mrazek (Detroit Red Wings) – Are we surprised the promising netminder is the property of the Wings?
Dmitri Jaskin (2011 Draft Eligible) – potentially the Czech Republic’s most talented player is injured.
David Musil (2011 Draft Eligible) – also injured; out indefinitely with a hairline fracture.
Richard Panik (Tampa Bay Lightning) – “a gifted puck-handler and has tremendous offensive upside.”
Martin Marincin (Edmonton Oilers) – the big blueliner has made an unforeseen smooth transition in his first year in North America, averaging over a PPG.
Peter Ceresnak (2011 Draft Eligible) – is “the No. 1-rated 2011 Entry Draft prospect in Slovakia according to NHL Central Scouting’s preliminary rankings. The 6-foot-3, 209-pounder is touted as one of Slovakia’s most physical players.”
Philipp Grubauer (Washington Capitals) – the Kingston Frontenacs netminder backstopped the Windsor Spitfires to two consecutive Memorial Cup Championship wins.
Tobias Rieder (2011 Draft Eligible) – the promising forward is one of the most promising prospects ever to come out of Germany.
Tom Kuehnhackl (Pittsburgh Penguins) – should be leading the attack up front; the talented forward is a nice blend of skill, size and skating ability; he is averaging a PPG in this, his first year, in the OHL.
Mirko Hoefflin (Chicago Blackhawks) – the shifty, but slight forward is a good puckhandler and equally adept as a goal scorer and playmaker. He has 24 points in 29 games in the Q this season.
Sondre Olden (Toronto Maple Leafs) – the Leafs lanky offensive forward who was a 3rd round 2010 selection, has unfortunately struggled somewhat with consistency in Sweden this season. Leafs Nation will no doubt, however, be watching his play carefully in Buffalo.