A good performance at the world junior championship might help to get Timothy Liljegren serious consideration as the first overall pick in the 2017 NHL entry draft.
On the brink of the 2017 world junior hockey championship tournament, some of the top 2017 NHL draft prospects are facing off representing their respective countries with the hope of winning gold.
With Nolan Patrick out of the lineup for the time being, it’s Timothy Liljegren's time to shine. With a strong Sweden team by his side, the smooth-skating, two-way defenseman has a perfect opportunity to show scouts why he should be the first pick in the coming draft. If Liljegren can hold his own in the defensive zone while applying pressure to the attack with a controlling point shot for Sweden, there could possibly be serious talk of competition for the No. 1 pick, although that talk may soon fade when Nolan Patrick returns from injury.
While Liljegren may be second on the totem pole, Switzerland forward Nico Hischier is right behind him thanks to his solid play with the Halifax Mooseheads this season. Hischier brought speed to the table last year during the world juniors, and he will without a doubt bring more to the table this year. Hischier has become a great playmaker in the offensive zone who is able to use his teammates well, for his advantage and theirs. With quick feet, he is one to look out for when watching the Swiss during the tournament.
Martin Necas put up a dynamic performance for the Czechs this year during the Ivan Hlinka tournament. His tenacity on the ice is like no other. Almost impossible to get the puck from, Necas uses speed and aggressiveness to make space.
Necas’ speed comes in handy when back-checking as well. Although the Czechs are not favored to win at the world junior classic, he makes the team more exciting to watch.
Joining Liljegren on Team Sweden is forward Elias Pettersson. Pettersson has had great success in Sweden in Allsvenskan. With Timra IK, Pettersson has 27 points in 27 games, which is not an easy feat playing against fully grown men as an 18-year-old. In fact, his 27 points ties him for fourth in league scoring. Pettersson’s massive offensive output was most likely generated by his terrific stickhandling and quick feet. He moves and darts around defenders with ease to create space and set up a scoring chance.
Other 2017 draft prospects who didn’t earn the right to play in the tournament are trying to succeed with their league teams.
One name not in the 2017 world junior tournament to keep an eye on during the CHL season is Maxime Comtois. Comtois is poised for a breakout after starting December with three multi-point games. The big-bodied, two-way forward is dishing the puck well the past few games.
After the world juniors comes the last stretch for prospects to impress scouts and show teams what they’re made of. Draft prospects have always slid or risen in rankings by the end of the season, so you cannot judge prospects only by good (or bad) world junior performances.