Just the Facts:
What is it?: TSN’S TEENAGER TOURNAMENT EXTRAVAGANZA!!!
Where is it?: Thanks to COVID, the World Juniors have been stranded in Edmonton and Red Deer for two years in a row. For just pennies a day, you can help free the World Juniors from the prison known as
Who’s the defending champs?: The USA, baby, fresh off of Trevor Zegras putting the entire hockey world on notice...and then immediately going and becoming an Anaheim Duck.
Places to Watch: TSN in Canada, NHL Network in the USA, TSN-GO usually has the online stream
Group A - Edmonton:
Group B - Red Deer:
Bruins Prospects at the WJC:
- 2021 first rounder Fabian Lysell will be playing for Team Sweden, thankfully taking only a very minor trip from the Vancouver area rather than Sweden to Edmonton. He will be the only Bruin attending this contest.
Lightning Quick Group Previews:
- This group is, to the shock of nobody, split between Canada and Finland, with everybody else trying to play second fiddle. Canada is as per usual stuffed to the gills with talent: Shane Wright on one side, Connor Bedard on the other, Logan Stankoven, Cole Perfetti...if you needed a team tailor-made for gold this year? I’d be hard-pressed to find a team better than the True North at the moment. Leijonat meanwhile is trading on hard experience of their gaggle of 19 year olds that have only gotten better with time and many of whom have reported for U20 games like clockwork. Their only real issues traditionally have been self-inflicted, and the last couple of years it’s been their inability to stay out of the box. If they can reign in their play, they can make a good shot at possibly shocking Canada.
- The Czechs, now officially going by Czechia as per request of their federation, will probably have a slightly higher finish than in years’ past where defensive malaise has caught up with them; Jan Mysak has guys like Michal Gut and Ivan Ivan (MVP caliber name there) to help keep the punch up front, and Stanislav Svozil now has 6’3 David Jiricek backing him up. While they’re still...shallow in some areas, the issue is that they really need their goaltending to make some strides after the bad tourney last year. It will be very hard for them to try and medal, but I think they could make a good show of it this year. JAKOLEV!
- Germany meanwhile will be having to deal with the fact that their best offensive talent is...currently in the NHL and long aged out of playing for U20 teams. Florian Elias and Florian Bugl last year were instrumental in helping get Die Eismannschaft into games, and without guys like Peterka and Stutzle, they’ll be the beating heart of their offense. In a division where you really can’t fall behind. Good luck, Deutschland. You’re gonna need it.
- Austria is also appearing in this film as “Dead body”. They don’t have any NHL-ready prospects to rely on right now, instead sending some of the more younger talent they’ve ever had to gain extremely valuable experience. Experience in how to remain graceful in a loss, sure. But valuable nonetheless!
- The USA lost a lot of guys that made their 2021 campaign so successful, but is that really so bad when you have tons of interesting talent behind them? Matty Beniers, Chaz Lucius, Red Savage, Drew Commesso, Sasha Pastujov...this team is loaded with some really intriguing high-end skill and also names you’d swear I randomly generated. Even in a tough group like this, I don’t see a reason why the US can’t make this a spirited campaign.
- Sweden! You brought a whole Bruin with you! And the one a lot of people have high hopes for as well! Tack så hjärtligt! Anyway, with Fabian Lysell, you are now Tre Kronor’s biggest fan. Sweden’s thing is being systematically superior at defense and in net without compromising on team depth, and for the most part that didn’t change this year, what did is likely the expectations; not getting out of the Group Stage last year probably stuck in their craw, so even in a high-skill group, I would expect the big guns to be in for a rough game when Sweden shows up.
- Here’s the thing: while the US and Sweden are interesting, one unspoken thought of the tournament this year is that it might finally be Russia’s year, and I know how that sounds; internationally, Russia says that every year and then burns out. But this year? It might be it. Sergei Zubov made sure that if there was going to be a Russian World Junior team, he was not going to skimp out on any of it. They have domestic players as well as OHLers. Young guns as well as hardened tournament vets. Askarov is in net. Matvei Michkov’s debut on North American TV is nigh. If the Red Machine is going to finally show some improvement from the last decade or so, now would be the time to do it.
- Slovakia is bringing in a lot of guys on different flights, but they will inevitably find a way to beat the US in the one shocker game of the tournament. This is their favorite thing to do. I do not understand why. This team, as with any that’s still coming back from a rebuilt development system, is reaching deep to get the best they can; Simon Nemec, Filip Mesar, and 16 year old Dali Dvorsky are names that could see themselves called for the NHL Draft in the very near future, and they also brought back their heroic goaltender in Simon Latcozky, who in spite of his losing record for his nation, had a .922 SV%. They are unlikely to medal, but they seem tailor made to cause trouble for an unsuspecting team. Keep an eye on these guys.
- Poor Switzerland. I love that their entire thing is just fundamentally sound, B+ team-first hockey with not a whole lot of strengths, but few weaknesses. Unfortunately, they drew the last division in the world where you want to be just “okay”. Their most interesting x-factor is that they found some 6’5 giant to play defense in Lian Bichsel, and undrafted wunderkind Lorenzo Canonica, who has doubled his output in Shawinigan from the year before and looks to be gunning for an outside chance at joining an NHL squad by the end of the year. They’re probably going to be sent to Relegation this year, but that’s more of a result of drawing a painful group rather than anything they’re doing wrong.
2021 World Junior Championships Schedule:
Preliminaries begin on the 26th of December, and end on the 31st. Medal Rounds begin after the New Year.
Due to holiday travel and the like, I will be recapping the WJC in chunks of three days until the medal round, with a gamethread set for general use throughout. We’ll return to normal programming once the Medal round starts!