Updating the prospect action of the World Junior Championships with a close look on Leafs William Nylander, Predators Kevin Fiala, Canada’s Connor McDavid and American Jack Eichel…
Sunday, December 28th
Two days in at the 2015 World Junior Championships and we’ve already witnessed some stellar performances. Lucky for me, I have tickets to every game taking place in Toronto featuring Sweden, Russia, Czech Republic, Switzerland and Denmark and thanks to PVR, I have been able to catch the Pool A action, including Canada, US, Slovakia, Germany and the defending 2014 gold medalists – Finland.
As good as it would be to watch Canada and USA through the round robin, I am thankful for the teams and their talents participating in Toronto. Having the chance to watch William Nylander (Sweden/Maple Leafs, 8th overall in 2014), Nikolaj Ehlers (Denmark/Jets, 9th overall in 2014), Kevin Fiala (Switzerland/Predators, 11th overall in 2014), Jakub Vrana (Czech Republic/Capitals, 13th overall in 2014) and AHL star David Pastrnak (Czech Republic/Bruins, 25th overall in 2014). With each of them possessing similar offensive skills featuring crafty puck skills and out-out-of-this-world creativity, all five of them have been a treat to watch. More on these players a little later.
Fortunately, the long list of exciting participants doesn’t end there as plenty of 1995s have proved (and will continue to prove) to be dangerous throughout this tournament. From Group B action in Toronto, here are a few drafted players (outside of the ones mentioned above) who have stood out for me … Nikolay Goldobin (Russia/Sharks), Pavel Buchnevich (Russia/Rangers), Sergey Tolchinsky (Russia/Hurricanes, signed), Vladislav Kamenev (Russia/Predators), Oliver Bjorkstrand (Denmark/Blue Jackets), Ondrej Kase (Czech Republic/Ducks), Mirco Mueller (Switzerland/Sharks), Noah Rod (Switzerland/Sharks), Jacob de la Rose (Sweden/Canadiens), Linus Soderstrom (Sweden/Islanders), Robert Hagg (Sweden/Flyers), Lucas Wallmark (Sweden/Hurricanes), Axel Holmstrom (Sweden/Red Wings), Adrian Kempe (Sweden/Sweden) and Oskar Lindblom (Sweden/Flyers).
With an eye on the 2015 and 2016 NHL draft classes, this year’s World Junior Championships are loaded with potential high end picks. Headlined by the battle for 1st overall in 2015, Connor McDavid (Canada) and Jack Eichel (USA) are starring in Group A play in Montreal and that hoopla will climax when Canada faces US on New Year’s Eve. After Canada defeat an overwhelmed Slovakian squad 8-0 on Boxing Day, much of the media coverage was on how McDavid failed to register a single point. While it was surprising that the young phenom was held off the scoresheet, McDavid was certainly buzzing (although maybe not to his capabilities) all game long but it appeared it was more of a linemate chemistry issue more than anything. After being paired with former minor hockey teammate Robby Fabbri (Canada/Blues) during Canada’s second game against Germany, the duo flashed some great chemistry together and #17 finished with one goal and two assists (named Player of the Game).
McDavid’s Jack Eichel registered a beautiful powerplay assist in USA’s 2-1 shootout win and certainly comes as advertised. Blessed with elite skating abilities, slick playmaking vision and the two-way awareness that teams want in a