This past weekend, Helsinki hosted a U20 Four Nations tournament. Since it’s only a four-hour trip for me, I decided to hop on a train and spend my weekend there. Well, at least most of it. I watched the Friday games on video and then watched the Saturday and Sunday games live.
This was the final major U20 tournament before the World Juniors, so for the most part, the participating countries – Finland, Sweden, Russia and Czech Republic – brought the best players that were available from Europe; those who play in North America never participate in these tournaments. Some of Russia’s best available players were playing at the CHL Canada/Russia Series at the same time, so those were the only real non-injury related omissions.
There were lots of NHL affiliated prospects playing in the tournament but also some very interesting first-time draft-eligible prospects and some interesting draft overagers as well. You could see the importance of this tournament because there were approximately 100 NHL scouts watching each game. That’s right, on average, about three scouts from each NHL team.
Because there were so many interesting prospects playing in this tournament, I decided to split this article into two parts. In this first part, I’ll go through all the interesting players from Team Finland and Team Russia. I’ll give my thoughts on their performance in the tournament and their chances of being on the final WJC rosters. The next part, covering Team Sweden and Team Czech Republic, will be released tomorrow.
Team Finland scored just a total of three goals in three games – they lost all games 1-2 – so naturally none of their players had impressive point totals. But that’s mostly irrelevant because the process is more important than the results in a short tournament like this.
Anton Lundell, C, 2020 NHL Draft – Lundell was one of the youngest players on the team but he’s the only returning forward from last year’s gold medal winning WJC team. Finland had a different captain in each game, and Lundell was one of them. He also wore the ‘A’ in the other two games. He plays a major role on the team and has good leadership abilities but obviously having that experience from last year didn’t hurt either.
Lundell didn’t get any points but that doesn’t mean he played poorly. As the top line center, he was always playing against the best opposing players, yet he was constantly making a positive impact on the game and giving great support for his teammates. The wingers around him were changed in each game, so that could be part of the reason he couldn’t get to the score sheet. He ran the top power play unit in game two but was used more in front or behind the net in the other two games. He didn’t play on the penalty kill because Finland was using their bottom-six forwards for that. Lundell is a lock for the final roster, and he’s expected to play a similar role at the World Juniors.
Matias Maccelli, W, Arizona Coyotes – Maccelli wasn’t part of the team at the World Junior Summer Showcase but his excellent start to the season in the Liiga has forced the team to not only add him to the roster but give him a major role as well. He played on the top line in games one and three but for whatever reason, didn’t suit up for game two. No points for Maccelli either but his impact on the game was very noticeable – he was one of the few players on to team to constantly create offense. He tried