December 30th, 2014 Austin Wallace

Austin Wallace

2014-12-30

Updates on some World Junior Standouts and some Angusing candidates.

 

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I am happy to be back from a vacation that had a surprising and complete lack of access  to cable or internet. While it was nice to unplug, it couldn’t have come at a worse time! I missed the start of one of the best tournaments in all of sports. The World Juniors is arguably a better display of pure skill than any other NHL tournament; highly skilled players bearing the weight of a country, and playing before NHL coaches can extract every last ounce of wild abandon and emotion in favour of silly things like “defensively sound hockey” and “clichés that not even Toronto media can twist into controversy”.

 

 

 

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Canada has looked increasingly on-point as the games have gone by. I think there is still another gear from many of their players (Lazar, McDavid, etc.)… Only Canadians could worry when their team has a plus-15 goal differential. As is usual, the winner of Canada/US will be the favoured team heading into single-elimination. If the usual repeats itself, another team will come out on top. This year, I think it will be different as the North American teams boast tremendous depth and excellent goaltending, the latter of which has often been their downfall in recent years.

 

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Josh Weissbock has a new site which attempts to quantify just how good each WJC team has been. While the sample-sizes are laughable, it is a significant improvement from what is available elsewhere. It tells us that Canada-US could be a relatively even, entertaining match! Who’d have thunk it?

 

In all seriousness, his site’s main purpose is a better look at CHL stats, and it is definitely worth a browse as it is lightyears ahead of any official source.

 

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As of this writing, Nic Petan is leading the tournament in scoring, despite posting a goosegg against Finland. Also representing the Jets: Eric Comrie (shutout), Josh Morrissey (prominent role in Canada’s middle-pairing), Nikolaj Ehlers (tied for country’s points lead), Chase De Leo (scored shootout winner) and Jan Kostalek (figured into Czech overtime game winner). None of these players’ futures are anywhere near certain, but the potential there is top-end. To see the WJC players broken down by NHL team, look here.

 

While Petan has six points in three games, his WHL scoring is way, way down. His assists are at relatively normal levels, but he has only scored six goals in 26 games; I expected him to be closer to 20 goals than 10 at this point in the season. A contributing factor is that Portland has been substantially worse this season, going from controlling roughly 57% of the play, to just under half. I would suspect that he is experiencing some pretty rotten luck, given that most players don’t regress that hard as they grow older in the CHL, but not even Josh’s site can provide us with any luck-measurement statistics.

 

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Second in the tournament for shots is Capitals top prospect Jakub Vrana. That is expected, as he is a goalscorer and top dog on a Czech team with a little less depth. Ahead of him: Jesse Puljujarvi. If you are saying “who?”, you are definitely in the majority, but not for long. Everyone will be hearing a lot about the immensely talented 16 year old over the next couple of years as he challenges for #1 overall in the 2016 draft. I can’t wait to see someone make a tanking rhyme with his last name. As a 6’2, 196lb triple-underager, he is already playing like one of the best players on Finlands roster (despite zero points) and has already played some in the top men’s Finnish league. It is much much too early to put any sort of cap on his eventual fantasy value, but this tournament will put him on the map.

 

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If you still can, make sure you Angus a few prospects. Every year a few players vault themselves into fantasy relevance, and Angusing is picking up the prospects with that potential for free and then trading them at the peak of their hype. It has been practiced around these parts for years, and is worthwhile in all leagues.

 

Jeff Angus is a former writer here wh