The biggest prospect event of the year outside of the NHL draft has to be the World Junior Tournament. Last year the two were synonyms with each other as the tournament was loaded with an unprecedented number of draft eligible prospects. Not only did the games feature draft eligible prospects across several nations rosters, the tournament scoring leaders were dominated by underage draft eligible prospects. Four of the top five tournament scoring leaders heard their names called early at the draft in Buffalo.
Looking ahead to the upcoming tournament the top two prospects in Nolan Patrick and Timothy Liljegren will not be playing. Both have had injuries but even taking that into consideration, they were not a lock to make their respective countries rosters. While not all the rosters have been announced yet, (Latvia and Czech Republic have not announced rosters) some other notable draft eligible players we know will not be going include Klim Kostin (RUS), Casey Mittlestadt, Kailer Yamamato (USA) and Gabriel Vilardi, Owen Tippett, Nicolas Hague, Callan Foote, Michael Rasmussen and Maxime Comtois (CAN).
Here are some draft eligible prospects who have been named to their teams preliminary rosters; Nico Hischier (SWI), Elias Pettersson (SWE),Jake Ottinger (USA) Jonas Rondbjerg (DEN), Martin Bodak (SLV), and Finland has named six draft prospects including Eeli Tolvanen, Kristian Vesalainen, Miro Heiskanen, Robin Salo, Urho Vaakanainen, and Juuso Valimaki.
So with so few draft eligible prospects heading to the World Juniors, does that suggest that this draft is a weak one?
Not necessarily. Consider last year as the outlier, and the exception. The 2017 draft was a banner crop that featured some special talent, several of which will not be returning because they are already in the NHL. There is no chance the likes of Auston Matthews (TOR), Patrik Laine (WIN), Jesse Puljujarvi (EDM), or Matthew Tkachuk (CAL) are released from their NHL clubs to play because they are all playing important roles for their teams. Perhaps defenceman Jakob Chychrun (ARI) could possibly be one as he has been a healthy scratch seven times and five of the last seven games.
The 2017 draft may lack any generational talent the like of which we have been spoiled with in recent drafts featuring Auston Matthews, Connor McDavid and