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Welcome back to the prospect ramblings for this week.
Yesterday was a day off from the World Juniors and here at Dobber Prospects we should have a break from coverage as well, but do not forget there are three games on tomorrow. Which I will go over a bit, Ha! Sorry I had to fool you but it needed to be done (wow have I been watcing way too much Mr. Robot)
Denmark vs Belarus – The relegation game (I believe). Maksim Sushko (Flyers 2017 4th round selection) is the one to watch for Belarus as he has been incredibly impressive this tournament and Joachim Blichfeld (Sharks 2016 7th round selection) has been a top player for Denmark.
With Denmark winning January 2nd 5-4 I will guess Belarus will take this one.
Quarterfinal match #1:
USA vs Sweden – This will likely be the most competitive game of the QF`s and should be the one to watch. Casey Mittelstadt, Kieffer Bellows, and Brady Tkachuk have been the better of the USA players, while Alex Nylander, Elias Pettersson, and Rasmus Dahlin have been the top three players for Sweden.
I have no idea who will win, so I will pick Sweden because I am Canadian and USA is the national hockey rival.
Quarter final match #2:
Canada vs Czech Republic – This will be a good game as Martin Necas, Filip Zadina, and Filip Chytil have been keeping the Czech’s incredibly dangerous and competitive. If the defense and goaltending hold up and the Czech’s get timely scoring they have a chance to win. Now on the other hand team Canada should be the favorite and will be led by the forwards, defense and goaltending. I feel I do not need to go over Canada’s top players as they are the favorites.
Canada should win but upsets do happen.
Nick Merkley and Dylan Strome are still tearing up the AHL, with Merkley finally catching up to Strome’s 30 points, albeit in 11 more games. Of the two I feel Merkley has the better shot at both being an NHL regular and a better scorer. I have rarely been impressed with Strome’s skating ability and think that is what will keep him held back from stardom.
However both need to make the NHL and be given a chance to produce as well.
On the topic of Coyotes young players, what has happened to Anthony Duclair. He does not look like the same player the Coyotes originally acquired in the Yandle trade. It looks and feels like his confidence is still suffering from his (official) sophomore season. A fresh start in a new organization should help him, but by all accounts he will probably stay in the 40-55 point, 20 goal, range for his career, which is not bad.
Speaking of lost confidence, Andre Burakovsky has hit a rough spot with the Capitals since his return from a broken hand, but on the other hand Barry Trotz (a coach not known to trust young players) is not giving him the ice time and opportunity needed for him to regain that confidence.
To start the year Burakovsky did not look like he wanted to shoot, but this could be aided by the fact he was on his off wing on a line with Backstrom and Oshie. Then he gets hurt, and when he comes back noted nine goal scorer Tom Wilson is on a hot streak on the top line, so Burakovsky is dropped to line three, his old stomping ground with Lars Eller and Brett Connolly. He starts off well then slows down and gets moved to the fourth line and eight minutes of ice time. There is no question in my mind that Burakovsky is the best right winger on the Capitals (yes better than TJ Oshie who has struggled since his return from a head injury) but he is not being afforded the chance. Hopefully this changes, and before you ask yes I am a frustrat