It’s no secret that the World Junior Championships provide a poor representation of a player’s development, and scouts (and fans) should do their best to keep judgments realistic and take what they see with a grain of salt. With that being said, it is still a tremendous opportunity to get a fresh and perhaps rare look at a player that you otherwise may not view on a day-to-day basis.
This is what makes the tournament so great.
Sure, the ice can be extremely tilted at times and teams do suffer unfortunate blowouts. Yet, at the end of the day, not a single player regrets taking the ice in one of the globe’s most coveted tournaments. The exposure gained is invaluable for both these kids and the countries that they represent. Whether they are winning a game by a score of 4-3 or being blown out 14-2, many of these players end up benefiting from the opportunity and appreciate the ability to showcase themselves, regardless of their success, or lack of.
Here are a few players that (in my mind) made their mark on this tournament and certainly had their “coming out parties” for the world to see. For obvious reasons, omitting players such as Trevor Zegras, Dylan Cozens, and Tim Stuetzle – all of which are clear dominant forces who will be taking over the NHL in just a matter of seasons, if not weeks. Instead, these are players, who, after this tournament, will likely be viewed in higher regard than they were pre-tournament.
Remember these names.
JJ Peterka, LW, Germany
Playing alongside Stuetlze surely benefits his case, but Peterka’s play has left a few GM’s second-guessing their decision to pass on him in the first round back in October. The swift skating German tied his linemate (Stuetlze) in points with 10 and was a consistent player for them, even when suffering a beating on the scoreboard.
He’s not quite elite in any aspect of his game, but strong in most. His motor is always running and his quick strides allow him to compete – and usually win – for his battles along the ice. I view him as a solid middle-six contributor, and on an up-and-coming roster such as Buffalo, has a good opportunity to provide production to an already strong young core. I forget to mention…he can shoot the puck as well.
Florian Elias, C, Germany
To stay with the German theme, Florian Elias may have made the biggest splash with regards to putting his name on the map. Coming in as an undrafted 18-year-old, Elias was somewhat unknown to most causal hockey fans and has spent his career in the German circuit – most notably within the Manheim system. He was fortunate to catch minutes on the top-line with the above-mentioned stars of Germany but also proved that he can hold his own and provide offense when needed. He finished the tournament with four goals and nine points.