What if there was a Under 23 World Cup of Hockey?

Michael Kosciesza

2021-04-30

Photo courtesy of Mayors Manor

We are in the midst of the Under 18 World Championships, which incorporates the best players in the world not owned by NHL clubs. Well not everyone but mostly everyone, Owen Power, Matt Beniers, Kent Johnson and William Eklund should have their name called early in the NHL draft this year but are too old for the tournament. This is the premier scouting event of the year if you don’t include the World Junior tournament. 

I love best on best tournaments and the idea of players representing their country. I have not missed a World Junior tournament and have all my fingers and toes crossed for a healthy and safe Olympics in 2022. I volunteered at and was a big fan of the World Cup of Hockey held in Toronto in 2016 and would love to see that event make a return. The concept was elite with all the top tier teams fielding squads as well as a Team North America for under 23 players and a World to give the Roman Josi’s, Zdeno Chara’s and Freddy Andersen a fighting chance on a melting pot team of the countries with shallower talent pools. 

What if we did the same tournament but with prospects? 

Yes, I know it won’t happen because we already, in non COVID times, have multiple scouting tournaments and it would take away from the World Juniors but hear me out. The same concept as the World Cup except the Team North America team would be made up of players who have not been drafted and are in their draft year. 

Let’s see how the tournament rosters might shape up if the tournament was held today. 

First off, my eligibility will be only players that would currently be considered a prospect aka less than 50 NHL games total or 25 in a campaign (aka Jason Robertson will not be featured, sorry USA). I’ll also say they have to be under 23.

 

Rosters

 

Team Canada

 

Forwards

  1. Quinton Byfield
  2. Morgan Frost
  3. Barret Hayton
  4. Cole Perfetti
  5. Connor McMichael
  6. Dylan Cozens
  7. Alex Newhook
  8. Peyton Krebs
  9. Joe Valeno
  10. Philip Tomasino
  11. Adam Beckman
  12. Seth Jarvis
  13. Mavrik Bourque
  14. Nolan Foote
  15. Dawson Mercer

Defence

  1. Bowen Byram
  2. Evan Bouchard
  3. Ryan Merkley
  4. Calen Addison
  5. Pierre Oliver Joseph
  6. Thomas Harley
  7. Conor Timmins
  8. Kaiden Guhle

Goalies

  1. Joel Hofer
  2. Ian Scott
  3. Michael DiPietro

 

Seth Jarvis (CAR) Photo courtesy of the Chicago Wolves/AHL

 

I love Seth Jarvis, Adam Beckman and Ryan Merkley all getting an opportunity to play for Cananda which is an opportunity that has alluded them at the World Juniors. Byram and Pierre Oliver Joseph are borderline too NHL seasoned to be on here for the same reason I left Jamie Drysdale off and that is because they are basically NHL regular’s at this point. Either way this team is loaded with talent and talent that will be in the NHL very soon and is already on the cusp playing pro hockey somewhere. I think when you pair that with their goalies who are all big game goalies there is no reason to think they wouldn’t be a favourite for Gold. 

 

Team USA

 

Forwards

 

  1. Trevor Zegras
  2. Cole Caufield
  3. Nick Robertson
  4. Matthew Boldy
  5. Jack Studnicka
  6. Alex Turcotte
  7. Arthur Kaliev
  8. Tyler Madden
  9. Dylan Holloway
  10. Ryan Poehling
  11. Bobby Brink
  12. Wade Allison
  13. Shane Pinto
  14. Trent Federic
  15. Sasha Chmelevski


Defence

 

  1. Scott Perunovich
  2. David Farrance
  3. Cam York
  4. Jake Sanderson
  5. Jack Rathbone
  6. Bode Wilde
  7. Dylan Samberg
  8. Joey Keane

 

Goalies

  1. Spencer Knight
  2. Joseph Woll
  3. Drew Commesso

 

Cole Caufield (MTL) Photo courtesy of USA Today

 

Man this team is deep. Their Defence is strong one through five with three capable players who could step up for that sixth spot. Up front they are laugh out loud good with a top-nine that features Trevor Zegras, Cole Caufield, Nick Robertson, Matthew Boldy, Jack Studnicka, Alex Turcotte, Arthur Kaliev, Tyler Madden and Dylan Holloway. Robertson, Studnicka and Kaliev have been a nightmare for OHL goalies for year sand the other six are basically a who’s who of the NCAA of recent. Add Joseph Woll backing up generational, decorated goalie talent Spencer Knight and we’ve got a candidate for gold. 

 

Team Sweden

 

Forwards

  1. Lucas Raymond
  2. Alexander Holtz
  3. Isac Lundeström
  4. Carl Grundstrom
  5. Samuel Fagemo
  6. Noel Gunler
  7. Emil Bemström
  8. Jonatan Berggren
  9. Lucas Elvenes
  10. Simon Holmström
  11. Lias Andersson
  12. David Gustafsson
  13. Zion Nybeck
  14. Teddy Niederbach
  15. Emil Heinemen

 

Defence

  1. William Wallinder
  2. Erik Brannstrom
  3. Victor Soderstrom
  4. Nils Lundkvist
  5. Timothy Liljegren
  6. Philip Broberg
  7. Tobias Bjornfot
  8. Emil Andrae

 

Goalies

  1. Hugo Alnefelt
  2. Filip Gustavsson
  3. Mads Sogaard

 

Lucas Raymond (DET) Photo courtesy of hockeymagasinet.com

 

This is, in my opinion the strongest non-North American team. Strong versatile talent at every position and a nice blend of players with slight NHL seasoning and high-end prospects. The only thing they are missing is depth up the middle. They’re strongest forwards are all wingers but I don’t know if this will be as much of a detriment with strong depth, good defence and three capable goalies. Even if possibly their countries best goalie will be playing against them. 

 

Team Finland

Forwards

  1. Anton Lundell
  2. Aleksi Heponiemi
  3. Rasmus Kupari
  4. Kristian Vesalainen
  5. Emil Bemstrom
  6. Otto Koivula
  7. Jesse Ylönen
  8. Eetu Luostarinen
  9. Roni Hirovenen
  10. Kasper Simontaival
  11. Juuso Pärssinen
  12. Henri Nikkanen
  13. Matias Maccelli
  14. Valtteri Puustinen
  15. Lauri Pajuniemi

 

Defence

  1. Ville Heinola
  2. Lassi Thomson
  3. Urho Vaakanainen
  4. Topi Niemelä
  5. Mikko Kokkonen
  6. Eemil Viro
  7. Kasper Puutio
  8. Santeri Hatakka

 

Goalies

  1. Veini Vehviläinen
  2. Joel Blomqvist
  3. Justus Annunen

 

The struggle I have with Finland is their top prospects really do not take long to make their way into the NHL. Patrik Laine, Kaapo Kakko, Juuso Valimaki, Miro Heiskanen, Mikko Rantanen, Sebastian Aho, Sasha Barkov and Roope Hintz have displayed this recently. These players are developed in a way that really does effectively make them NHL ready early on and with the Finnish Liiga not being seen as a top tier development league perhaps Finnish prospects get their NHL time quick if they’re good. This made it difficult to put a top tier team together for this torunament, which is more credit to Finland than anything but this team is still deep and witht he way Finland plays a team stucture at an international level I wouldn’t be shocked to see them do well. Lundell and Kupari up the middle, some strong talent on D with Heinola, thomson, Vaakanainen, Niemelä and Kokkonen and a deep Goalie trio.

 

Team Russia

 

Forwards

  1. Grigori Denisenko
  2. Vasily Podkolzin
  3. Vitali Kravtsov
  4. Alexander Khovanov
  5. Vitali Abramov
  6. Rodion Amirov
  7. Klim Kostin
  8. Pavel Dorofeyev
  9. Kirill Marchenko
  10. Kirill Maximov
  11. Alexander Barabanov
  12. Ivan Morozov
  13. Semyon Der-Arguchintsev
  14. Vasily Ponomaryov
  15. Marat Khusnutdinov

 

Defence

  1. Alexander Alexeyev
  2. Egor Zamula
  3. Shakir Mukhamadullin
  4. Yan Kuznetsov
  5. Daniil Pylenkov
  6. Kirill Kirsanov
  7. Roman Bychkov
  8. Semyon Chistyakov

 

Goalies

  1. Yarolsav Askarov
  2. Daniil Tarasov
  3. Ivan Provsevtov

 

Vasily Podkolzin (VAN) via @hcSKA / Twitter

 

I’ll first start and say Podkolzin might not even get the opportunity to play in this if he is inserted right into Vancouver’s lineup but the same could be said for plenty of other players on this list. This team is strong in gaol, weak on defence but even stronger on forward. I think with no marquee blueliner leading the charge it really shows what this tournament is really about and that’s opportunity to showcase. As a Leafs fan the idea of Amirov and SDA playing with Barabanov would be enough to draw me in. Overall this team beats to the drum of Denisenko, Podkolzin and Askarov.

 

Team World

 

Forwards

  1. Marco Rossi
  2. John-Jason Peterka
  3. Jan Jenik
  4. Lukas Reichel
  5. Martin Kaut
  6. Jan Mysak
  7. Domonik Bokk
  8. Jaromir Pytlik
  9. Joachim Blichfeld
  10. Matej Pekar
  11. Martin Chromiak
  12. Mathias Emilio Pettersen
  13. Jakub Lauko
  14. Adam Ruzicka
  15. Evgeni Oksentyuk

 

Defence

  1. Moritz Seider
  2. Libor Zabrasnky
  3. Martin Fehervary
  4. Simon Gynp
  5. Martin Hugo Has
  6. Nico Gross
  7. Oliver-Joakim Larsen
  8. Ilya Solovyov

 

Goalies

  1. Lucas Dostal
  2. Simon Latkoczy
  3. Jakub Škarek

 

Photo courtesy of the OHL

 

This team is fun and could be sneaky good to be honest. Moritz Seider is one of the best defenceman in this tournament but behind him its slim to say the least. Aside from that Rossi replacing Stutzle in a Germany heavy top 6. Dostal could end up the best goalie in the tournament and outperform the prodigal sons that are Askarov and Wallstedt. Similar to the Draft Class team that comes next I love the idea of a melting pot of players who would normally never play together bringing a bunch of different styles and talent to compliment them that say, Rossi might not see in international competition.

 

Team Draft Year

 

Forwards

  1. William Ecklund
  2. Matthew Beniers
  3. Kent Johnson
  4. Dylan Guenther
  5. Mason McTavish
  6. Chaz Lucius
  7. Cole Sillinger
  8. Fabian Lysell
  9. Aatu Raty
  10. Florian Elias
  11. Simon Robertson
  12. Fedor Svechkov
  13. Sasha Pastujov
  14. Francesco Pinelli
  15. Matthew Coranato

 

Defence

  1. Brandt Clarke
  2. Owen Power
  3. Luke Hughes
  4. Simon Edvinsson
  5. Carson Lambos
  6. Daniil Chayka
  7. Corson Ceulemans
  8. Stanislav Svozil

 

Goalies

  1. Jesper Wallstedt
  2. Sebastian Cossa
  3. Tristan Lennox

 

Jesper Wallstedt (2021) via TV Pucken

 

I saved best for last, not literally best as in they will win but best for last in the sense that I think it would be the coolest thing to see these players together on a team. Who stands out? Who’s on the Powerplay? Penalty kill? I also love when draft years bond and on the other end of things rivalry is formed. Imagine a top D pair of Clarke and Power?

 

At the end of the day I could see the medals looking as follows:

Gold: Canada

Silver: USA

Bronze: Sweden

 

MVP: Quinton Byfield

Top Forward: Trevor Zegras

Top Defenceman: Moritz Seider

Top Goalie: Lucas Dostal

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