World Junior Rewind

From opening puck drop on boxing day to Troy Terry’s shootout heroics, the 2017 World Junior’s packed about as much junior hockey excitement into eleven days as anyone could hope for. There were a few major storylines many will remember twenty years down the road, the main one likely being Troy Terry’s shootout magnificence, however the lack of attendance throughout round robin action and even into quarter final action is sure to leave a black mark on the cities of Montreal and Toronto. Also, with the USA having won their third medal in eight years, many questions around Canada’s success at the tournament have already been asked and will likely be asked again come next December.
Focusing on the positives..
The roster the U.S. assembled was quite brilliant, and the way Bob Motzko utilized all four of his lines really helped push the Americans over the top. The Americans did an excellent job combining speed, goal scoring, and finding the players who were unwilling to walk away without a gold medal around their necks.

Tyler Parsons – Parsons is a big game guy and that’s exactly what they got out of him. He’s not a natural high end puck tracker, but man does he fight in the crease. Flames may have a good one.


Charlie McAvoy – McAvoy was the second best defenceman in the tournament and provided the Americans with a stabilizing force from the back end. McAvoy will be a high end NHL defenceman, and he will be there very soon.


Caleb Jones – Outside of WHL and Oiler fans, not many people were aware of the impact Jones would play on the roster. Jones, much like McAvoy, was a real stabilizer on the back end, able to slow the game down and distribute the puck effectively.


Jack Roslovic – Though he didn’t receive the attention that Colin White and Clayton Keller received, Roslovic was one of the most impactful players on the American roster. His ability to transport the puck through the neutral zone with speed, and gain clean zone entries are something that will make him a successful NHL winger.


Clayton Keller – He was quiet in the final, but I don’t think anyone can argue the sheer brilliance of Clayton Keller. From his puck skills to speed to the way he sees the ice, Keller is going to be a big time player for they ‘Yotes.


Luke Kunin – Kunin had a decent tournament, and was able to generate a fair amount of offensive zone chances. I believe he’s still a year away from the NHL (based on his performance in this tournament) but he played an integral part in the American’s success.


Jordan Greenway – Scary, scary player. His ability to skate given his size would have any opponent shaking. He’s a freight train, and the physical aspect of his game, as well as his ability to contribute around the net really allowed fans to see how good of a prospect Greenway is.


Tage Thompson – Unbelievably skilled player. Thompson showed he has the ability to dominate games, and I believe that’s exactly what he will bring to the St. Louis Blues. Out of any player on the roster, Thompson impressed me the most.


Troy Terry – What’s left to say? He was clutch. I’m not sure he’s ever a top 9 NHL player, but he certainly cemented himself as one of the most legendary US players ever.


Though they finished second, Team Canada really didn’t have all that good of a tournament. Aside from Thomas Chabot, and for a short time Phillippe Myers, the back end struggled mightily against the fast and skilled attacks of the Sweden and the USA. In a short tournament like this, the lack of defenceman capable of playing more of a shutdown role inevitably cost them, making the omission of Brendan Guhle even harder to swallow.


The forward group deployed in this years tournament was quite strong, but the team lacked in a clear go to guy. Of course Mathew Barzal and Dylan Strome were thought to be those guys heading in, and they did have a fairly strong round robin, but they were never able to truly take over and dominate a game, with Dylan Strome nearly disappearing in the final. Julien Gauthier was one of the more impressive forwards, and given his size, speed, and overall intelligence, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think he’ll be a top none guy in Raleigh next season. Anthony Cirelli received a lot of media attention, and though he played above what was expected, he didn’t blow me away.


The goaltending was what it was. They took the two best Canadian goalies in the CHL, and to Hart’s credit the Americans got really lucky on a couple of goals in the final game.


In terms of draft eligibles who impressed, no one was better than Halifax Mooseheads forward, Nico Hischier who scooped up seven points in five games and was the clear go to man for the Swiss. Is he going to be a top three pick in this years draft, probably not, but everyone now knows how skilled the young center is. Miro Heiskanen is another player who saw a rise in his draft stock following a fairly strong outing on a weak Finnish squad. The other Fins in Tolvanen, Vesalainen, and Valimaki are likely to remain in a similar spot, though Vesalainen is a guy who could see his name rise. Elias Pettersson had a decent outing for a draft eligible in the WJC, and is likely solidified in the top 15. Lias Andersson showed off how dynamic he can be, and at times looked like one of the best Swedes on the ice. Andersson is a player I had some reservations on heading into the tourney, but he looks like he will be a high end offensive player at the NHL level.


Aside from Finlands shocking fall from grace, the other disappointment comes with the Swedes, who on paper were the majority favourite heading in. With a deep defensive corp, elite goaltending, and a good mix of veterans and skilled, the Swedes fell short to the Russians. The Swedes are a perennial power house, but if this tournament showed anything it’s that teams are able to adjust to the same old formula, and that’s evident in the success that a team like Switzerland had at the tournament, proving to be far more competitive than one would have thought.


As strange as it may sound, the Fins will have a strong team in the 2018 edition of the tournament, with likely returnees in Rasanen, Vesalainen, Tolvanen, Heiskanen, Valimaki, as well as the addition of likely top 60 pick Robin Salo.


Thank you for reading, and follow me at @DraftGeekHockey for more news and notes on junior hockey news and prospects.

Brennen York Written by:

Founder of DraftGeek. Edmonton based scout covering the WHL, AJHL, and Bantam AAA.