A Way Too Early 2022 World Juniors Preview – Group B

Kyle Watson

2021-01-12

PHOTO : THE CANADIAN PRESS / JASON FRANSON

 

Yesterday, we took a look at how the teams in Group A could line up at the 2022 World Junior Championship.

Today, we will examine Group B, led by the host Canadians. Once again, they will face off against Finland, who have 11 returnees, and the Tim Stüzle-less Germans. The Czech Republic, led by Stanislav Svozil, are also in the group. As are Austria, who will likely be without their only NHL-affiliated player, Marco Rossi.

 

Canada

Eligible Returnees

This year, Canada had six returnees on their roster. With Quinton Byfield and Jamie Drysdale likely to be playing down in California for their respective teams, they may not be as fortunate at next year’s tournament.

Defenseman Kaiden Guhle should be back and will no doubt graduate from the shutdown role he was tasked with this year. Backup goaltender Dylan Garand will get the first look at the starting spot in net.

Out of all the potential returnees, Cole Perfetti’s future is the most uncertain. At the end of the 2020-21 season, five of the Jets’ forwards will become UFAs and Patrik Laine will be an RFA. 

Although Winnipeg’s 10th overall pick doesn’t have anything left to prove in the OHL, the Jets are a team trying to win right now and could opt to fill those spots with more experienced players. If Perfetti is not in their immediate plans, he will be available for the tournament.

 

Hopefuls

The trio of defenseman leading the race for first overall pick at this year’s NHL Draft (Owen Power, Brandt Clarke, and Carson Lambos) all lining up on the same blueline should excite Canadian fans, but it’s the exceptional status recipient Shane Wright who everyone will be talking about. 

 

 

He won the CHL Rookie of the Year award this year, despite being 15-years-old for over half of the season. Although he was one of the first cuts from the team this year, he received endless praise from the Hockey Canada staff. Considering the players at their disposal, it was impressive to see him at selection camp at all.

Of course, the rest of the cuts from this year – Seth Jarvis, Hendrix Lapierre, Tyson Foerster, Ryan O’Rourke, Donovan Sebrango, Lukas Cormier, Gage Goncalves, Mavrik Bourque, Brett Brochu, and Triston Lennox will all get a second chance to make the team.

Finally, some of the top forwards from this year’s draft will get a long look at the summer showcase. That list includes Michigan’s Kent Johnson, Edmonton Oil King Dylan Guenther, and Cole Sillinger of the Medicine Hat Tigers.

 

Wildcards

Shane Wright isn’t the only phenom in Canada right now. Matt Savoie, who will battle him for the first overall pick in 2022, could very well play his way onto the team. 2023-eligible Connor Bedard, who received exceptional status to the WHL this offseason, is another name to keep an eye on.

Nashville’s second-round pick Luke Evangelista is equipped to take a big jump when the London Knights return to play. He represented Canada at the U17 level and can play up and down the lineup. Anaheim’s Jacob Perreault was a player who divided a lot of opinions prior to this year’s draft. If he continues to prove doubters wrong and score consistently, he could make himself a must-pick. Matt Savoie’s older brother, Carter has been scoring at an impressive rate (8 goals in 12 games) as a freshman at the University of Denver. Hockey Canada will surely be keeping tabs on his development.

 

 

 

Potential Outlook 

After suffering defeat to the U.S. in the gold medal game, the Canadian squad will likely look quite different next time around. Garand, Guhle, and Perfetti will likely play big roles next year with Perfetti specifically looking primed to have a monster tournament if he gets another shot at it with a more prominent role. 

Forwards Bourque, Jarvis, and Foerster all could have been on this year’s squad and no one would have batted an eye. Defencemen Daemon Hunt and O’Rourke have been heavily involved with Hockey Canada in the past. Lambos, Clarke, and Power will likely start the tournament in lesser roles, but the odds that at least one of them doesn’t step forward and take on a lead role on a blueline without a lead dog are slim. Johnson, Sillinger, and Guenther all bring a different skillset and could easily slide into the middle-six next year.

However, no one will be more interesting to watch than Wright. The uber-talented, exceptional status star has been flat out incredible every step of his journey thus far. Perfetti will be expected to lead the forwards but there is a real possibility that Wright is the special talent that helps try to lead Canada back to the gold medal game.” 

Tony Ferrari (@TheTonyFerrari)

 

Finland

Eligible Returnees

Losing three-time tournament participant Anton Lundell will be tough for Team Finland, but they have a long list of returning players that begins with Brad Lambert. 

While the 2022-eligible only finished with one goal and four points in seven games this year, he dictated the play every time he stepped on the ice and showed exceptional poise for a 17-year-old.

 

 

This tournament is unique in that it presents the opportunity for each of the top candidates for the first overall pick (Lambert, Wright, and American Rutger McGroarty) to play top roles for their teams.

Maple Leafs prospects Topi Niemelä and Roni Hirvonen exceeded expectations this year and should only improve. The same thing goes for Los Angeles pick Kasper Simontaival.

Penguins’ second-rounder Joel Blomqvist was expected to start but didn’t play a single minute at the tournament. He has been impressive this year, splitting time between Liiga and Mestis.

Six-foot-six Samuel Helenius showed some flair for a big man this year and could see himself picked in the first two rounds this summer.

Roby Jarventie, Kasper Puutio, Ruben Rafkin, Matias Rajaniemi, and Eemil Viro are all also likely to return in pursuit of another medal.

 

Hopefuls

The Fins will likely look for reinforcements from the 2021 draft class.

Sami Tuomaala, who plays in the Kärpät system, has great puck skills and loves to shoot the puck. The winger is a top prospect for the upcoming draft by merit of his upside, but he won’t be much use on the bottom six. He’ll have to work his way into a top role or improve his defensive game to make the team.

Forward Samu Salminen is another first-round candidate. He has been lighting it up in Finland’s U20 league with Jokerit, scoring 10 goals and 26 points in just 17 games. Oliver Kapanen is a forward who plays in the mold of his cousin, Kasperi. Defenceman Topias Vilén is another draft-eligible with experience in Liiga, playing ten games for the Pelicans this season.

 

Wildcards

Aatu Raty was leading the race for first overall in the 2021 draft at the time of last year’s tournament and played a small role for Finland. A year later, he didn’t even make the team and has slipped to fifth in our November rankings. In two seasons in Liiga for Kärpät, he has yet to make much of an impact and has spent most of this season on the U20 team. While it is more likely than not that he will feature at the 2022 World Juniors, he is designated a wildcard because his trajectory is unclear. 

 

Potential Outlook

“Finland will return next year with a pretty strong team. I don’t believe it’ll be as strong as Sweden, Canada, the USA, and Russia on paper, but as we saw this year, it really doesn’t matter. 

Losing centermen Lundell, Pärssinen, and Nikkanen will be a huge loss, but their defense is going to be pretty stacked and their offense is still solid. At this point, I think that Blomqvist will probably be the starting goalie.

There is a long list of the returnees and they are going to come back very strong and there are also some great new 2003’s who have a chance to break into the team.

2021 eligible Aatu Räty, who didn’t return this year, is still available next year and I think he will play an important role in next year’s tournament.

Finland will return as a strong, bonded team of pretty good individuals and will fight for a medal once again. I believe the key players in the team will be Niemelä, Puutio, Viro, Hirvonen, Järventie, Lambert, and Simontaival. Also, I hope that Aatu Räty will be great with all these guys.”

 

Germany

Eligible Returnees

For the first time in NHL history, three German players were selected in the first two rounds of the draft in 2020. Tim Stüzle, Lukas Reichel, and John-Jason Peterka have been spearheading the country’s revolution in the sport since they won promotion from the WJC-18 D1A in 2019.

Unfortunately, Reichel didn’t participate this year due to COVID-19 complications and Stüzle looks like he will play for the Senators this year. There is a slim chance that the trio will get to play one last time at the junior level, but they will no doubt join NHL first-rounders Leon Draisatl and Moritz Seider on the men’s team for years to come.

 

Potential Outlook

“The Germans find themselves in a very unique position next year. Not only are the Class of 2020 eligible to return, but the Germans also have “Top 3 Player” Florian Bugl in net, three influential d-men returning in front of him, and 8/14 forwards returning.

Luca Münzenberger played well enough to return in a #1 role on the point. The Germans also have a talented group of 2003s whom they did not choose to involve. Hänelt, Mayr, Rausch, Niedenz, Proske, Zap, Rossmy, Cimmerman, Fischer, and the Heigl brothers are just a few of the names on Germany’s impressive U18 squad. Players like Connor Korte and Nikita Quapp were good enough to make the Central Scouting preliminary list and 2022 upstarts Roman Kechter, Leo Hafenrichter, Luca Hauf, and Red Bull sensation Julian Lutz may be ready to debut. Lutz, in particular, has major WJC breakout potential.”

Jeff Rea (@JeffReaScouting)

 

Czech Republic

Eligible Returnees

Highlighted by an incredible 2-0 upset over Russia in the group stage, Team Czech Republic was once again a stingy opponent at the 2021 World Juniors.

Next year, much of their core can return, with captain Jan Myšák, 2021-eligible Stanislav Svozil, and starting goaltender Nick Malík eligible.

Svozil’s draft stock is steadily rising in his second year in the Czech Extraliga. He displayed remarkable poise at the tournament this year and was arguably their best player. 

 

 

2022-eligible defenceman David Jiricek should have an increased role next time around. Michael Krutil can join him, as well as goaltender Jan Bednar and forwards  Michal Gut and Pavel Novak.

 

Potential Outlook

“The Czechs will be able to bring back a considerably higher amount of returnees compared to previous years. Usually, they always send a roster composed mostly of players from that given age group, with a few exceptions like Filip Zadina.

The quality of players born in 2002 is better than 2001, so along with guys like Svozil and Jiříček, who were on the roster this year, I expect this team to be better, more well-rounded offensively, and better in net next year than they were this year with more experience.

Given they would be in a softer group, I expect their offense to showcase itself, especially for experienced guys like Myšák or Novák.”


Austria

Eligible Returnees

After helping Austria win promotion to the World Juniors and captaining them at this year’s tournament, Marco Rossi will likely be playing in the NHL in a year’s time. Although he is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury to start off the 2020-21 campaign, he is arguably the most NHL-ready player from the 2020 draft besides Alexis Lafrenière.

 

Potential Outlook

“Austria sent a relatively young team to Alberta with nothing to lose. Marco Kasper and Mathias Böhm both made names for themselves as talented prospects and 2002 born Sebastian Wraneschitz quickly emerged as everyone’s favorite dark horse goalie. Kasper, still just 16, looked capable of starring at this tournament in the future.

Although Rossi ages out, Leon Wallner, Lucas Thaler, and Senna