World Juniors: Picks and Predictions

Tony Ferrari

2020-12-25

 

Throughout this week, the DobberProspects’ team is going to be bringing you a full World Junior Championship preview! From team breakdowns to hot takes and picks and predictions to cap off the week on opening day and Christmas! Be sure to check back all week for more World Juniors preview and coverage! 

 

Monday, December 21: Team Breakdowns: Group A/Group B
Tuesday: World Juniors Players to Watch
Wednesday: World Juniors Sleepers
Thursday: World Juniors Hot Takes
Friday: World Juniors Picks and Predictions

Podcasts:
Dobber’s DraftCast World Juniors Preview with Cam Robinson and Danny Tiffany
DPR Episode 96: USA WJC Preview with Chris Peters
DPR Episode 97: WJC Preview Team Canada with Craig Button
DPR Episode 98: WJC Sweden Preview with Jimmy Hamrin
DPR Episode 99: WJC Preview Finland with Marco Bombino

 

The day has arrived! The World Junior Championships are set to begin today at 2:00 pm EST with the premier matchup that we all wanted to see, Slovakia vs Switzerland! All jokes aside, the tournament is finally here and we will be getting a couple of great matchups on day one. Germany will be short-handed with only nine forwards, five defenders, and two goalies available for the first couple of days due to COVID but they will look to pull an upset to kick thing off against Finland. Led by Anton Lundell, the Finns will be a tough matchup for Tim Stützle and his band of merry men at 6:00 pm EST. The day caps off with a classic rivalry. Russia takes on the Americans in a battle of two of the tournament favorites at 9:30 pm EST. Yaroslav Askarov will be looking to thwart many of the same American players that he saw at the World Under-18s in 2019, facing off with Cole Caufield, Alex Turcotte, and Trevor Zegras while looking to outduel Spencer Knight in net.

 

Day two gets underway tomorrow with the Swedes looking to keep their 52-game, 13-year round-robin wins streak alive against the feisty Czech Republic in the early time slot. Can Sweden’s Terror Twins help extend the streak or will the Stanislav Svozil coming out party have something to say about it? The home nation, Canada, gets underway against Germany who will be coming off their game against the Finns. Canada will be without captain Kirby Dach, who was injured in the lone pre-tournament game but should have the offensive firepower to make up for it. The German outlook doesn’t seem as bright as they will again be shorthanded because of COVID on top of playing back-to-back against their two toughest opponents of the round-robin. The day finishes off with the Americans playing back-to-back to start the tournament. Thankfully for the U.S. squad, their day two opponent is the Austrians who will be leaning heavily on 2020 ninth-overall pick, Marco Rossi.

 

With so many stars set to take the ice and even a few waiting to be born on the World Juniors’ stage, it is always such a wonderful time of the year for hockey fans. Whether we are hoping to see our favorite team’s prospects do well or we are looking to get a first look at a player who is draft-eligible, the World Juniors is a fantastic event for fans and scouts alike. There are a few things that we should all keep in mind as we watch the tournament though. Let’s get those out of the way before we take a look at who the DobberProspects’ team chose for the medals and awards.

 

  • This is a short tournament. From start to finish it is only 11 days. Any player can have a hot or cold streak in that span so let’s all try and refrain from ripping a kid for having a bad week or heaping unrealistic expectations on another for having the best week of his young hockey career. These kids are 16-19 years old for the most part. Ups and downs happen.
  • So much of what happens at this tournament depends on coaching and deployment. Don’t be mad at Quinton Byfield because he only played 11 minutes a game and not a single second in the gold medal game, be mad at the Canadian coach. Thankfully we shouldn’t have to deal with that exact scenario this year.
  • These are kids playing for their nation. Let’s cheer them on and be happy for them. If they make a game costing mistake, let’s leave their social media alone. We are better than that.
  • Don’t be a two-week scout. Disagree with an analyst or dislike what they have to say? Don’t be a jerk on Twitter. They have likely watched these kids for a year or more. That’s not to say that they are right, but their opinion comes from a place of personal experience.
  • Let’s have some fun! Many of us haven’t watched live hockey since March. Let’s enjoy it!

 

Now let’s get to the picks and predictions. We polled a number of the DobberProspects scouts and writers to see what they thought going into the annual tournament. We asked for their matchups in the gold and bronze medal games as well as the winners of each giving us a top-four, their choice for tournament MVP and then we finished with their all-star teams featuring one goalie, two defenders, and three forwards. So what did the DobberProspects staff have to say? Let’s find out:

 

Cam Robinson – DobberProspects Managing Editor

Gold:  USA
Silver: Canada
Bronze: Sweden
Fourth: Russia

MVP: Spencer Knight

All-Star Team
F: Vasili Podkolzin      F: Trevor Zegras      F: Dylan Cozens
D: Bowen Byram       G: Spencer Knight       D: Victor Söderström

Tony Ferrari – Head of Scouting

Gold:  USA
Silver: Canada
Bronze: Russia
Fourth: Finland

MVP: Vasili Podkolzin

All-Star Team
F: Vasili Podkolzin       F: Anton Lundell        F: Alex Turcotte
D: Jake Sanderson      G: Spencer Knight     D: Victor Söderström

 

Joel Henderson – WHL/West Scout

Gold: Canada
Silver: Russia
Bronze: USA
Fourth: Sweden

MVP: Bowen Byram

All-Star Team
F: Connor McMichael     F: Trevor Zegras       F: Peyton Krebs
D: Victor Söderström      G: Yaroslav Askarov       D:  Bowen Byram

 

Clare McManus – U.S. Scout

Gold:  Canada
Silver: USA
Bronze: Sweden
Fourth: Russia

MVP: Cole Caufield

All-Star Team
F: Trevor Zegras        F: Anton Lundell       F: Cole Caufield
D: Bowen Byram      G: Spencer Knight     D: Jake Sanderson

Eetu Siltanen – Finnish Scout

Gold: USA
Silver: Finland
Bronze: Sweden
Fourth: Canada

MVP: Cole Caufield

All-Star Team
F: Cole Caufield       F: Alexander Holtz       F: Anton Lundell
D: Bowen Byram      G: Spencer Knight      D: Ville Heinola

 

Mikael Holm – Swedish Scout

Gold:  Sweden
Silver: Canada
Bronze: Russia
Fourth: Finland

MVP: Lucas Raymond

All-Star Team
F: Lucas Raymond       F: Dylan Cozens      F: Anton Lundell
D: Bowen Byram      G: Yaroslav Askarov       D: Victor Söderström

Jacob Barker – OHL Scout

Gold:  Canada
Silver: Sweden
Bronze: USA
Fourth: Russia

MVP: Bowen Byram

All-Star Team
F: Quinton Byfield       F: Alexander Holtz       F: Cole Caufield
D: Bowen Byram        G: Yaroslav Askarov       D: Jake Sanderson

Dylan Griffing – Russian Scout

Gold: USA
Silver: Canada
Bronze: Russia
Fourth: Sweden

MVP: Cole Caufield

All-Star Team
F: Cole Caufield       F: Anton Lundell       F: Vasili Podkolzin
D: Bowen Byram      G: Yaroslav Askarov       D: Tobias Björnfot

 

Danny Tiffany – Goaltending Scout

Gold:  Sweden
Silver: USA
Bronze: Russia
Fourth: Canada

MVP: Trevor Zegras

All-Star Team
F: Trevor Zegras      F: Vasili Podkolzin       F: Dylan Cozens
D: Victor Söderström       G: Hugo Alnefelt      D: Bowen Byram

Samuel Tirpák – Slovakia/Czech Republic Scout

Gold:  Russia
Silver: Sweden
Bronze: Canada
Fourth: Finland

MVP: Yaroslav Askarov

All-Star Team
F: Anton Lundell       F: Rodion Amirov       F: Quinton Byfield
D: Victor Söderström      G: Yaroslav Askarov       D: Bowen Byram

Jeff Rea – Central European Scout

Gold:  USA
Silver: Sweden
Bronze: Canada
Fourth: Russia

MVP: Trevor Zegras

All-Star Team
F: Trevor Zegras       F: Anton Lundell       F: Lucas Raymond
D: Jake Sanderson      G: Spencer Knight       D: Ville Heinola

 

Pat Quinn – Associate Editor

Gold:  Russia
Silver: Canada
Bronze: USA
Fourth: Sweden

MVP: Connor McMichael

All-Star Team
F: Connor McMichael       F: Rodion Amirov       F: Trevor Zegras
D: Victor Söderström     G: Yaroslav Askarov      D: Jamie Drysdale

 

Dave Hall – Associate Editor

Gold: USA
Silver: Canada
Bronze: Russia
Fourth: Finland

MVP: Trevor Zegras

All-Star Team
F: Trevor Zegras       F: Dylan Cozens       F: Anton Lundell
D: Bowen Byram     G: Spencer Knight       D: Cam York

 

*******

 

There is one thing to note about these picks and predictions, specifically in the forward and MVP spots. Kirby Dach was a prominent part of these predictions. He injured his wrist in the pre-tournament game against the Russian team on a hit in the neutral zone. Dach was hit by Ilya Safonov in the first minute of the third period and came up favoring his arm a bit but stayed in the game. Then when he went to throw a hit on Safonov later in the third period, Dach dropped his glove and immediately went to the bench.

 

 

So a quick rundown of how the picks and prediction changed when Dach’s injury occurred and he was announced to be out of the tournament.

  • Dach was the MVP pick on four writers ballots
  • Dach was in the top forwards of eight writers ballots
  • The only player chosen to replace him more than once was Caufield (twice), everyone else chose someone unique.
  • One ballot was changed from Canada winning gold to the Americans taking home the gold, no other ballot changed the medal standings

It’s safe to say that Kirby Dach was expected to play a major role for the Canadians at the World Junior Championships. With that said, only one ballot was changed to move Canada from their original position and they moved from gold to silver, which isn’t a major drop. The Canadian’s have an incredibly deep forward corp so they should be in good shape to replace him in their lineup.

 

The tournament is here. We are all set to watch it go down. There will be a small sense of normalcy at times when we watch the annual holiday event. There’s no doubting that 2020 was a year we will all remember and much of it for the wrong reasons. The World Juniors being back on our TV screens will give us all a moment to breathe. Hopefully, we can all take this momentary reprieve from all that’s going on in our world and appreciate what these teams, the staff, and all involved are going through as they put on the 2021 World Junior Championships in this weird and wild year. Enjoy the World Juniors. It’s going to be a hell of an event.

 

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Joyous Kwanzaa! Happy Holidays to any and all that are celebrating around the world. The DobberProspects team wishes everyone good health and good times going forward. Stay happy, stay safe, and stay healthy! Enjoy the World Juniors!

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