It’s that time of year again folks! The most wonderful time of year! Once Christmas is in the rearview and we’re all doing... whatever it is we do on Boxing Day, it’s World Juniors time again!
After being played in an empty arena in Edmonton last year, the tournament is back in Edmonton and Red Deer this year, where it will be played in front of, well, at least a half capacity crowd. Covid concerns, as we are all painfully aware, are still lurking, but at least it’s something.
Now, the Flyers aren't quite as well represented in this year’s tournament as they had been in the last few, but they do still have a few prospects to keep an eye on this time around. First, returning from last year’s Swedish team is 2020 second round pick Emil Andrae. He was given a somewhat limited role in that tournament, but did well in it, and while Sweden’s depth on the back end means that he’ll likely see a similar role this year as well, we can expect that he’ll still be quite solid there. He’ll also play a significant leadership role in this tournament, as he was just named captain of the Swedish team. A high honor indeed!
And as a bit of a surprise, Elliot Desnoyers (2020, 5th round pick) made the roster for team Canada. He didn’t get a real sniff at last year’s team, but after a great start to the season with Halifax, he was invited to camp and impressed enough to earn himself a spot on the team. He’ll be playing a depth role for Canada, and if they’re hoping to replicate a bit of the US’s success from last year, he’ll be a key part of that. Their big names were a real draw for the team, to be sure, but their real drivers for a good bit of the tournament were their energy lines. And Desnoyers is a quick, hard working player with a good motor who can pull his teammates into the fight, and he’s exactly the type of player they want driving the bottom of their lineup.
And while Samu Tuomaala not being invited to Finland’s camp was a bit of a surprise, the Flyers do still have one 2021 draft pick in the mix, as fourth round pick Brian Zanetti will be representing Switzerland. He’s off to a solid start with Peterborough of the OHL, and is adjusting to the North American game well after making the jump from the Swiss League. His offense is clicking already (he had nine assists in his first 17 games), and Switzerland will be hoping he can bring some of that same production to their team, while still providing some stability on the back end.
The tournament kicks off on the 26th (that’s Sunday) and you can find the complete schedule here, but Canada and Sweden’s games for the preliminary round are below.
|12/26 7:00 PM||CZE||12/26 4:30 PM||RUS|
|12/28 7:00 PM||AUT||12/27 9:30 PM||SVK|
|12/29 7:00 PM||GER||12/29 9:30 PM||USA|
|12/31 7:00 PM||FIN||12/31 4:30 PM||SUI|
And now, of course, the big question is: who’ve you got?
Maddie: I think Canada, once again, is the odds-on favorite. They’re loaded again and it’s hard to bet against them. And I know how hard it is to repeat in this tournament. HOWEVER! I love chaos and I think the US team is well constructed, should be well coached/managed, and I wouldn't count them out of this one. Gimme the US to repeat as gold medalists (and don't make fun of me if this proves to be just sickeningly optimistic).
Brad: Going to have to agree with Maddie here and go with a US repeat. Beniers leading the way with an MVP tourney.
Matt: I don’t know enough about the World Juniors (besides what I read in this article) for my prediction to mean much but: U-S-A! U-S-A!
Thomas: Я собираюсь сказать, что Россия забирает золотую медаль просто потому, что у них может быть один из лучших вратарей на турнире, и просто из-за моей личной предвзятости к Марату Хуснутдинову. Капитан команды и, вероятно, главный центровой снова собирается возглавить эту группу, обладая безумной двусторонней способностью и хорошо дополняя высокооктановые атакующие способности Никиты Чибрикова, Александра Пашина и Матвея Мичкова. В России, безусловно, самый большой резерв талантов среди европейских стран, поэтому будет интересно посмотреть, как все это сочетается друг с другом.
Thomas’s prediction but Maddie ran it back through google translate: I’m going to say that Russia is taking the gold medal simply because they might have one of the best goalkeepers in the tournament, and simply because of my personal bias towards Marat Khusnutdinov. The team captain and probably the main center is going to lead this group again, possessing insane two-way ability and well complementing the high-octane attacking abilities of Nikita Chibrikov, Alexander Pashin and Matvey Michkov. Russia has by far the largest pool of talent among European countries, so it will be interesting to see how this all fits together.