Prospect Ramblings: First Update from the U18 Worlds (Apr 20)

Jokke Nevalainen



Day three of the U18 Worlds is about to start here in Sweden. I arrived to Umeå on Thursday to watch Czech Republic vs Belarus and Canada vs Finland games. After that, I traveled to Örnsköldsvik on Friday to watch Slovakia vs USA and Sweden vs Latvia. And so far, my trip to Sweden has been wonderful.


Both arenas hosting this tournament are normally used by Allsvenskan teams but they are absolutely more than capable of hosting an event like the U18 Worlds. The Fjällräven Center in Örnsköldsvik especially would make a lot of teams in the Finnish Liiga jealous. It’s a fabulous arena, and it’s no wonder Örnsköldsvik was chosen as the main host when they have an arena like that. It’s the home of MODO, a team that has produced such talents as Peter Forsberg, Markus Näslund, the Sedin twins and Victor Hedman – not too shabby.


Here are my thoughts on the games I’ve seen so far.


Czech Republic vs Belarus


The big surprise heading into this game was that one of the best Czech prospects we’ve seen in a long time, 2002-born Jan Mysak (2020) was marked as the 13th forward. I’ve been touting him as a top-15 prospect for the 2020 NHL Draft, so I figured it’s just a gimmick and they’ll actually use him on one of the top two lines. But then the Czechs got their first power play, and I noticed Mysak didn’t play on either unit. And then they went through their rotation and I realized Mysak wasn’t part of it. He didn’t play in the first period at all.


The Czechs were down 0-2 after the first period, and after that they switched things up so that Mysak moved up to second line right wing, opposite of Michal Teplý (2019) who was the other top forward on that team. The Czechs made a good comeback effort but eventually lost the game 3-4. Teplý had an assist on the power play goal scored by defenseman Hugo Has (2019). Jan Bednar (2020) didn’t have a great first game in goal but he’s very talented and should bounce back from it.


The two most noticeable players on Team Belarus were defenseman Vladislav Kolyachonok (2019), who scored a goal and was also their team captain, and diminutive forward Yevgeni Oxentyuk (2019), who scored the first goal in the tournament and added an assist later on. Oxentyuk was a complete unknown to me and most others as well but his puck-skills and vision were very noticeable in the game. Apparently he added another three points in Belarus’ win against Finland. I’m looking forward to getting another look at him on Monday when I return to Umeå.


Canada vs Finland


Finland got off to a great start by scoring the first three goals. Those goals came from Aku Räty (2019), Antti Saarela (2019) and Anton Lundell (2020). Lundell was a late addition to the team which forced them to cut Henri Nikkanen (2019), and Lundell took his spot as the second line center. Lundell was also added to the top power play where he was joined by Ville Heinola (2019), Patrik Puistola (2019), Kasper Simontaival (2020) and Saarela.


Lundell’s addition to the top unit forced Aatu Räty (2021) from there to the second uni