AHL Report – World Juniors & Diamonds in the Rough

Brayden Olafson


We’re 68 days into the NHL season. The Stanley Cup playoffs bracket will be set in 117 days. The entry draft is another 76 days after that, but my absolute favorite part of the entire season kicks off 15 days from now at the New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. About that time I’ll be on a southbound flight to my honeymoon, but you can be sure I’ll be tuning in to the 2018 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships from a remote volcanic area of Costa Rica.

Several prospects playing in the AHL will likely be featured in the 2018 edition of the tournament, including Filip Chytil, Klim Kostin, and Timothy Liljegren. I’ve already touched on the great start in the AHL that Chytil has been off to, back in November. In all likelihood, Chytil will join the Czech Republic in group B where he’ll face off against both Liljegren (Sweden) and Kostin (Russia) in round-robin play.

Jesse Puljujarvi remains eligible for the tournament, however, with Finland being relegated in the 2017 edition, largely due to his absence, he will obviously not attend. Puljujarvi has had a relatively inconsistent adjustment to the North American style, and any chance to realize his previous dominance would have certainly been beneficial to his confidence. The Oilers seem to be intent on finding a place for Puljujarvi to flourish in their lineup rather than Bakersfield’s these days anyways.

Also a 1998 birthday, Alex Nylander remains eligible for the tournament as well. Alex has spent time in both the NHL and AHL early on this season much the same way that Puljujarvi has. The chance to represent Sweden at one final U20 could also provide a confidence boost for the younger Nylander who was Sweden’s top player at the tournament a year ago. In any case, Sweden will be a top team at the tournament with several top prospects donning the blue crowns. The Leaf’s have made it clear that Timothy Liljegren will be released from the 9-game stretch with the Marlies’ who have a healthy pool of depth to cover his absence. He has been contributing on the Marlies power play consistently since returning from an injury that held him out at the beginning of the season. The Swede’s will also likely include 2017 draftee’s Elias Pettersson [VAN], Erik Brannstrom [VGK] and Lias Andersson [NYR].

The final selection in the first round of the 2017 entry draft, Klim Kostin has always put his offensive touch on display while representing the Kremlin. In his draft year, Kostin was shuffled through three Russian leagues, and seemingly struggled to get comfortable, posting a combined two assists in 18 games throughout the three leagues. Prior to his draft year, however, he was highly successful in the MHL, as well as both the U17’s and U18’s. Despite being previously drafted first overall by the Kootenay Ice in the CHL import draft, and never coming to North America, Kostin made it known that he would like to come to North America to play after being drafted to the NHL. Coincidentally, he was drafted by the Blues’ who, about a month prior, had lost their sole p