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January 3, 2011, 02:11 AM ET

World Junior Hockey Championship- Jan 2 Notes and Thoughts

by Corey Pronman

Medal Round:

Canada-Switzerland:

Final Score: 4-1 Canada                                                  Shot Totals: 50-22 Canada

Kings Brayden Schenn: 2A

Finland-Russia:

Final Score: 4-3 Russia (OT)                                             Shot Totals: 45-37 Russia

Kings Maxim Kitsyn: 1G and 3 Pts

Capitals Evgeny Kuznetsov: 2G and 3 Pts

Red Wing Teemu Pulkkinen: 1G and 2 Pts

Relegation Round:

Slovakia-Norway:

Final Score: 5-0 Slovakia                                                   Shot Totals: 37-31 Norway

Lightning Adam Janosik: 2A

Lightning Richard Panik: 3G and 4 Pts

Czech Republic-Germany:

Final Score: 3-2 Czech Republic                                          Shot Totals: 40-31 Czech Republic

Notes and thoughts from the Medal Round:

  • Those who’ve read here before know I’m high on Capitals first rounder Evgeny Kuznetsov and his raw skill set and tonight he showed why. He still has a lot to work out in his development, but boy when he’s on he looks like a high-end prospect. From the 55th minute on through the game-winning goal in the overtime period he was simply dynamic; showing plus skating, good hands and a solid wrister that won the game. The rest of the game for him was largely forgettable though and that’s part of the problem with him.
  • Duck’s prospect Sami Vatenen I thought was terrific in this game and beyond the usual ways we’ve come to expect of him. He is a plus skater, maybe even a 65 on the 20-80 scale with great all-around movement and a fine offensive skill set, but in this game he was showing physicality along the boards with effectiveness and headsy defensive play. Those are the things that will push him over the top from “just another small guy” into a prospect who can have pro aspirations and maybe be a contributing player.
  • Finland’s Joel Armia, a top prospect in the 2011 Draft had his best game of the tournament, which isn’t saying much. He wasn’t creating left and right, but he was at least showing some positive signs. He is a big guy for a 93 birth date that protects the puck well along the boards, flashed solid-average to above-average hands and got involved in some chances. His skating is a concern, the stride mechanics are good but the output isn’t really desirable.
  • Islanders’ top prospect and fifth overall pick Nino Niederreiter has played fine, with a few good games but hasn’t lived up to his draft billing, which isn’t his fault by any means. I have said since the 2010 Draft that I see Nino as a good, but not great prospect that does a lot of things well but doesn’t really have any sort of high-end tools outside of his shot. He projects well as an NHL’er, but his ultimate ceiling is in question and how much of an impact player he can be.
  • Blue Jacket’s prospect Ryan Johansen was visibly dominant all game long. Scouts leading up to the draft loved his physical potential and you can see why. He protects the puck well with his body, on defense he has a long reach and can physically separate people from pucks effectively and at his age he’s only going to keep growing.  Combine that with good hockey sense, and above-average playmaking ability and you got yourself a fine prospect.
  • I’m not sure what’s wrong with Dylan Olsen, if he’s hurt or thinking too much about that nice pro contract he just signed with Chicago, but he’s got to start playing smarter hockey.

The semi-finals are tomorrow in the Medal Round and they are nothing short of great match-ups featuring the Top 4 Junior programs in the world.  Sweden and Russia play at 3:30 EST while Canada faces off versus the USA at 7:30 EST. Notes and thoughts from that day will be posted later than usual, likely around mid-day on the 4th. This is the peak of the tournament now, so definitely tune in.

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