WJC 2017: How Did the West’s U20s Fare?

by Kevin Wickersham on January 9, 2017 | (0 Comments)

 

Well damn! It was a wild World Junior Championships indeed. Not just because of the finish (fantastic or disappointing depending on whether you hang your skates north or south of the border) but also for the extraordinary performances the Minnesota Wild’s young guns displayed. Let’s take a look at these, and other notable efforts from the NHL West’s prospects, and speculate what their futures may hold.  

 

Minnesota Wild - Kirill Kaprizov – F (Russia)

GP

G

A

PTS

PIM

+/-

7

9

3

12

2

7

 

Did anyone have a better overall tournament than Kaprizov? It’s hard to argue with the Russian right wing’s WJC-leading nine goals (the most in for a Russian-born player since Pavel Bure had 12 in 1991), 12 points total (tied for tops in the WJC with Buffalo Sabre uber-prospect Alexander Nylander of Sweden), and a prolific 33 shots on goal. This is nothing new for Kaprizov, one of the KHL’s best, and his 2016-17 stats with Salavat Yulaev Ufa bear this out with an appealing combination of scoring and grit (15 G, 15A in 37 games with 62 PIM). Currently 19 years of age, and perhaps still growing (5-10, 192 lbs.), Kaprizov is under contract with the KHL until April 2018, at which time his skills and resume may have progressed enough to warrant an important role as a rookie with the Wild.

 

Minnesota Wild - Joel Eriksson Ek – F (Sweden)

GP

G

A

PTS

PIM

+/-

7

6

3

9

4

8

 

While defenseman Rasmus Dahlin’s comparisons with Erik Karlsson drew much of the attention paid to Team Sweden, 19 year-old captain Eriksson Ek’s versatility and effectiveness in most phases of the game drew accolades. He proved to be an aggressive puck-hound all over the ice, and in addition to playing effective defense reminded us of the offensive promise the large (6-03, 203 lbs.), cerebral center/left wing showed in his brief stint with the Wild in October and November (two goals and three assists in nine games) before his loan to Färjestad BK. Eriksson Ek will certainly be a candidate to make the Wild in 2017-18, but with their forward depth will likely be on the bubble again.

 

Minnesota Wild - Jordan Greenway – F (USA)

GP

G

A

PTS

PIM

+/-

7

3

5

8

2

3

 

The WJC saw the 19 year-old Greenway further cement his reputation as an offensively-skilled power forward with a versatile, intelligent game. Measuring 6-05, 230, the Boston University sophomore was a bruising physical presence, dominating when establishing position in front of the net, regularly bulldozing through defenders, fighting for the puck in the corners, checking hard and effectively, doing the dirty work on the power play and elsewhere, and making timely passes to create scoring opportunities. Greenway will continue to hone his game with the BU Terriers (six goals and 10 assists in 16 games this campaign) and profiles as a potentially effective NHL player at some point not too distant after his collegiate career. 

 

Minnesota Wild - Luke Kunin – F (USA)

GP

G

A

PTS

PIM

+/-

7

2

2

4

25

3

 

Kunin, Team USA’s captain, was a hard-working, all-around contributor to their gold-medal success. His efforts didn’t translate neatly to the scoring sheet, but the University of Wisconsin Badger (where he also is captain) and 2016 Wild first round draft pick was vital, playing on a line with Jordan Greenway, taking 23 shots on goal (second on the team only to Clayton Keller’s 28 SOG) and infusing some grit by racking up 25 penalty minutes. In his collegiate and prior experience, Kunin has shown promise as a smart, offensively-gifted center, who at times displays elite-level skills. Like Greenway, he has returned to the college ranks (13 goals and six assists in 17 games during 2016-17) to polish his game and may have a solid NHL future as a top-nine, energetic center with a well-rounded game.

 

Anaheim Ducks – Troy Terry - F (USA)

GP

G

A

PTS

PIM

+/-

7

4

3

7

2

1

 

With his clutch shootout heroics, Terry earned a permanent place in WJC highlight reels. While he doesn’t profile as having a promising NHL future, there is something to be said for being able to make the big shot, to succeed under pressure, and possessing all the intangibles that make these things possible. A fifth round pick of the Ducks in 2015, Terry is rather thin for his height (6-0, 165 lbs.) and known for his skating ability. He will likely need to bulk up to get, and hang on to, a regular role at the next levels, but at 19 years of age and with a few more years of eligibility at the University of Denver (where he has done quite well during 2016-17, with nine goals and eight assists in 18 games), he still has time to fill out and develop his game. At the moment he is considered more of a long-term project, but his recent success is sure to boost his confidence and may pay future dividends.

 

Arizona Coyotes – Clayton Keller F (USA)

GP

G

A

PTS

PIM

+/-

7

3

8

11

2

3

                                                                               

At the grizzled age of 18, the Missouri-born Keller was a dominant force for the USA in the WJCs, finishing third in the tournament in scoring (three goals, eight assists). On an offensively-potent line with Joey Anderson and Colin White (team leader and second in the WJC with seven goals), Keller was in great position to display his full range of offensive skills. That he did, as his 11-point total was just one less than tourney leaders Kaprizov and Nylander. Like Greenway, Keller is a Boston University forward that generates excitement whenever he gets the puck. Many project the current freshman to jump to the pros after his initial campaign as a Terrier (in which he has seven goals and eight assists in 10 games), so we may see Arizona’s 2016 first round pick in a Coyotes sweater before long. He’s adept at changing speeds on the ice smoothly, vexing opposing defenders, and very crafty at handling and distributing the puck. At 5-10, 170 lbs. the loudest concern scouts seem to have about him is his size, but his lethal point-generating skills are enough to make us forget them. The MVP of the U-18 World Championships in 2016, and top scorer of the 2015 U-17 World Hockey Challenge, Keller has excelled at each level, and there is no reason to think this won’t soon continue in the pros as a first or second line center.

 

Arizona Coyotes – Dylan Strome – F (Canada)

GP

G

A

PTS

PIM

+/-

7

3

7

10

0

1

 

Along with Keller, Team Canada’s captain Dylan Strome helped make the WJC a bonanza of hope Coyotes fans. Arizona’s 2015 first round, third overall pick tied Senators prospect defenseman Thomas Chabot for the lead on his squad with 10 points (tied for fourth overall in the tournament). His most shining moments probably were in the preliminary game against Russia, scoring two power play goals. Having split the season between the Coyotes and OHL Erie, Strome is still refining his chops for the NHL, but his numbers with the Otters this campaign (five goals and 11 assists in seven games), and ridiculous past OHL totals (2015-16: 37 goals and 74 assists in 56 games, 2014-15: 45 goals and 84 assists in 68 games) help indicate the offensive force Strome projects to be in the NHL. No doubt Coyotes fans wish that he would have made a permanent transition to the big club already, as his stout frame (6-03, 198 lbs.), skating skill, and general game have reminded some of Ryan Getzlaf.

 

Calgary Flames – Tyler Parsons – G (USA)

GP

MIN

SOG

GA

GAA

SV%

5

330:00

144

12

2.18

.917

 

One can debate whether Tyler Parsons or Washington Capitals prospect Ilya Samsonov earned top goalie status at the WJC (and Samsonov might win the popular vote, with a few cast for Finland’s Veini VehvIlainen), but when it comes to the NHL West, Parsons was the best. In the gold medal game, the Michigan native rose to the occasion, making 46 saves against Canada, including 17 in OT, and holding fast in the shootout. His work against Switzerland in a generally lackluster showing by Team USA was crucial, helping stave off elimination and allowing them to advance to their successful semis match against Russia. His efforts, particularly during a third period Swiss shooting barrage, were priceless. His work this campaign with the OHL’s London Knights (11-2-2, 2.16 GAA, .916 SV%) and prior two seasons, particularly 2015-16 (37-9-3, 2.33 GAA, .931 SV%) bode well for Parsons’ future. With veterans, Chad Johnson and Brian Elliott at the NHL level, widely-heralded Jon Gilles and the fast-rising David Rittich minding the net for the Flames’ AHL affiliate Stockton Heat, and two other promising goalies in the Calgary pipeline with Nick Schneider and Mason McDonald, Parsons has a few to leapfrog on the depth chart. His WJC success in the spotlight and continued OHL domination should help.

 

Chicago Blackhawks - Lucas Carlsson – D (Sweden)

GP

G

A

PTS

PIM

+/-

7

1

2

3

4

9

 

The 19 year-old Carlsson had a successful WJC run for Team Sweden. Chicago’s fourth round pick in the 2016 draft led the tournament with a nine plus/minus rating, and potted an important insurance goal with a wicked slap shot against Switzerland in the preliminaries. In addition, Carlsson helped set the tone at the tournament’s outset with an assist in Sweden’s 6-1 win vs. Denmark, and picked up another during an 8-3 pasting of Slovakia. He displayed effective defensive technique throughout, and a good motor while hindering opponents all across the ice. Not particularly large at 6-0, 183 lbs., Carlsson excels as a passer and is known primarily for his offensive skill and skating ability which allows him to cover effectively in all zones. He has to develop some physically, and there are quite a few sizable, mobile Blackhawk blue line prospects to surpass before one can consider him near NHL-ready.

 

Denis Guryanov - Dallas Stars – F (Russia)

GP

G

A

PTS

PIM

+/-

7

4

3

7

2

3

 

Dallas’ 19 year-old, 2015 first-round pick gathered significant steam as the WJC progressed, highlighted by his aggressive play and scoring binge in the semi-finals against Team USA. Russia nearly rode his speed and skating ability to victory with his two goals in regulation, and two more during his shootout duel with Troy Terry. This game alone undoubtedly did wonders for his stock, as did his dramatic OT goal 33 seconds into extra time that brought home the bronze for Team Russia vs. Sweden. Known for his powerful drives to the net, intuition on the ice, and hard shot, the future looks promising for the 6-03, 201 lbs. offensive threat. He will continue to refine his game with AHL Texas (four goals and nine assists in 25 games). Considering the NHL Stars’ injury woes in 2016-17, it would not be out of the question to see Guryanov at the American Airlines Center at some point this winter or spring, but more likely he will have to wait until 2017-2018 at least.

 

Other Notable Western Conference Performers:

Calgary - Oliver Kylington – D (Sweden), Chicago – Mathais From – F (Denmark), Edmonton - Aapeli Räsänen – F (Finland), Los Angeles – Kale Clague – D (Canada), Nashville - Yakov Trenin – F (Russia), San Jose - Joachim Blichfeld – F (Denmark), St. Louis - Tage Thompson – F (USA), Winnipeg - Michael Špaček – F (Czech Rep.) and Jack Roslovic – F (USA).

 

For the full scouting report on all of these players - from a fantasy hockey standpoint (upside, likelihood, wait time, etc) - visit DobberProspects.com

 

 

 

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