Just the Facts:
What is it?: Teenager hockey at the highest level being played in Gothenburg, Sweden!
When is it?: Right now! It starts today, the prelims finish up on New Year’s Eve, and then the medal round begins after the new year. The Finals/Relegation round finishes on January 5th.
Where can I watch it?: TSN in Canada, NHLN in the states, apparently TUBI will also have it if you stream your hockey.
Who’s the defending champs?: Canada
Why should I care?: Why, you get to see the NHL stars of tomorrow face off for World Juniors glory!
Also it’s pretty inoffensive hockey that people get super wound up over so there aught to be some good yucks at their expense, and the relegation games are usually pretty fun!
Bruins at the World Juniors
- Matthew Poitras is going to be on Team Canada!
- Dans Locmelis will be the captain of Team Latvia after a reasonable start with UMass! That “C” looks good on maroon, Dans! Do your country proud!
Group A - Arctic Circle Kings
- It’s Canada’s division to lose, but this is one of the more questioned Team Canada’s we’ve seen so far. There’s tons of first round talent, so medaling is the bare minimum for them...but it’s a little bit of a mystery as to how well they’re actually going to do. They have less prospects with NHL/AHL than they have in years, and while they still have what is likely a good portion of the first and second round of the upcoming draft playing on this roster...they only have a single returnee, they have no idea who’s in net, Macklin Celebrini did a dumb in the pre-tournament games and will probably receive discipline for it, and in general there’s a vibe coming off this team that nobody is really sure what they actually have. I’m sure they’ll pull it all together and get bare-minimum silver, but this might be mildly more difficult than past years. Mildly.
- Sweden is as close as any team in the World Juniors will have to a Canada-beater in their group. Nearly every player they have is a well-touted prospect on an SHL/Allsvenskan team for at least one team in every NHL division, and are getting a boatload of returning guys who will age out next year. Their X-Factor is Hugo Havelid; a long-time goalie of the swedish system who got a shock win over the US in the 2022 U18 tourney, whose currently rocking a .920 in international competition and also a sub-.900 SV% in Djurgarden but that’s okay he’s 19. They look like they’re poised as they usually are to cruise through the round robin sections...it’s all a matter of whether or not they’re finally capable, even with all this talent, to finally take control of the knockout round. This is not a hard group. Just take it.
- Finland is a lot like previous years of Suomen Hockey; they look like they’re going to be alright and have a couple of crippling flaws that will keep them out of major contention as of right now. Namely, and this is a bit strange for them, their defense at the talent level is looking pretty...shaky? They aren’t getting Aron Kiviharju; the wunderkind who’s gotten his entire season erased by injury that required surgery, and as a result they’re a bit thin on the backend. Their goalies are looking as good as ever against guys their own age, and the Finns have a pretty solid system otherwise, so if they trust it, they’ll be able to let their dynamite forward core carry them quite a distance. This is not the Finland team to beat your Ontarian uncle’s allegations of Scandinavian teams being all scoring and no defense. Instead, they’ll have to play into that stereotype to get themselves to the medal round. Crazy thing is...it could just work. Maybe.
- Latvia might have one of their highest finishes at the World Juniors in actual decades. I’m dead serious. Part of the reason a lot of people are looking at the three teams below Canada and Sweden with a lot of tilted heads is that Germany and Finland’s defenses are looking, by acts of god or developmental blindspots, pretty rough for this upcoming tourney. Latvia’s defense isn’t necessarily better, but it is experienced, and in a tournament like this it can be all the difference. What they do have, is a lot of forward prospects, including Locmelis of course, who are NHL prospects and many of whom are already playing games in the US either in the USHL or NCAA. They are probably not going to beat Finland or Sweden or Canada, but the Norways and Germanys of the world right now look a lot less threatening than they used to. They will probably avoid relegation this year, but then come screaming into something very mean in the Quarters. Still, Latvia had that problem in the World Championships last year and then they medaled, so who knows?
- Germany oh Germany. Things are going to be very difficult for you this year. They’ve got a pair of NHL prospects who’ve spent some time away from their motherland, but otherwise...a lot of their best has aged out and will likely be playing at Worlds this spring. That leaves them in the unenviable position of possibly having to duke it out with Latvia for a relegation spot...and frankly I don’t think they’re gonna win that one. They might survive Relegation, however. They still have a little bit of offensive punch that they can call upon. For their sake, let’s hope they’re looking to show out.
Group B - Squirrelly Division
- It’s the USA at the World Juniors! Featuring all your favorite USA at the World Juniors storylines! Playing like ass for 40 minutes and then winning the game in the third! A team made up almost entirely of drafted NHL prospects! A dude named Cutter! Multiple BC and BU players! Medaling in spite of that first thing! Lane Hutson gets to show off before he becomes a Hab and I have to hate him forever! Anyway see you in the Medal rounds; whatever that looks like. Please just actually beat Slovakia this time?
- Czechia is back on the rise after a heartbreaker against Canada last year in the Gold Medal game. They still have some growing pains to go through when it comes to defense, but they’re looking strong, they’re looking fast, they actually look like goaltending’s on the up and up for them which is huge, and most importantly...they’re healthy. Czechia got just about everyone they asked for, and none of them are coming off a bad injury or are out for some length of time. If they want to try to go for gold again, this is as good a division to try and attain that goal as there has been.
- Slovakia is looking to continue their infernal rise as the seeds spread by (Miroslav) Satan continue to bear powerful hockey fruits. I’m sure there was a great metaphor here but I’ve been enjoying christmas cheer in a bottle since the 23rd, so we’ll just have to move on to talking about a team that is once again trying to jockey for position against the US and Czechia, and buddy...if there’s any team that could cause Group B to be full of chaos, you are looking at it. By the on-paper team, they’re a pretty distinct 3rd in this group. By their historical on-ice effort-level? Just about nobody tops them. Having Dalibor Dvorsky, Filip Mesar, Adam Sykora, and Adam Zlinka as just a taste-test on your forward group will help quite a bit towards that.
- Oh Switzerland, long have I enjoyed your sound, team-first approach. It is unfortunately no longer enough to get you out of hell. The Swiss are older, that’s definitely something they can hang on their hats; experience, and they do have Daniil Ustinkov and Rodwin Dionicio on the back end who have played reasonably well this year and could be a solid defense pairing...but that’s just about where the positives end. They’ve got a litany of overagers and very few draft eligible guys, and unfortunately their goal of high floor may just be a matter of perspective...of them falling flat on their face. You’d better win your Norway matchup if you know what’s good for you.
- After some time out in the woods (read: a pandemic making it abundantly clear they weren’t coming back until that was over with), Norway might be...okay? They’re still quite a few miles behind a number of teams and will probably, but they have an ace up their sleeve; forward Michael Brandsegg-Nygård of Mora IK. This dude at the tender age of 18 against grown-ass men may end up with a double digit number of points in sweden, and lest we forget, that is very difficult to do given that those teams are trying to win their leagues or at least avoid relegation. Brandsegg-Nygård is projected to go somewhere in the middle rounds of the upcoming draft, so while you can probably pencil most of their games a losses, I would recommend watching at least one or two of their games to see what that kid’s made of. He might just surprise some people.
What’s the Schedule like?
It looks like this! It starts bright and early at 6am with Czechia vs. Slovakia right out of the gate!
All that said, we at SCoC say a hearty GOOD LUCK to all players at the World Juniors, but especially to the Bruins prospects in action!