by Corey Pronman
This World Juniors is turning out to be one of the more dramatic in recent years with great games in both groups although unfortunately many have been unable to see a lot of the games. Here are my thoughts from today’s games outside of Germany-Slovakia. The round robin portion wraps up tomorrow. Group A has two great games tomorrow with SWE-FIN and CZE-SUI as asides from Sweden advancing, very little has been decided in that group with the other three teams I named having a good chance to advance. CAN-RUS will also determine who gets a bye, and USA-SVK play a win and you’re onto the medal round game.
Thoughts from Finland-Switzerland (5-4 Finland SO):
Teuvo Teravainen (CHI) was arguably Finland’s best player. He scored several key goals, including one where they were making a late third period comeback but also looked very good with the puck. His hands and hockey sense are high-end.
Markus Granlund (CGY) was just decent for a good portion of the game, but he delivered when Finland needed him as he scored a deflection goal, and with Finland down a goal he knocked in a loose puck with roughly a minute left in the game. He also scored the shootout winner, although it was his second attempt as it went to extra shooters where the IIHF allows for repeat shots.
I’ve blogged over the last few days about good Joel Armia (BUF) has been but recently he’s been bad, very bad. He’s been a giveaway machine who tries all the fancy moves but unlike previous game he doesn’t generate offense when he does so. Armia’s performance swings are about as high as any current NHL prospect I can think of.
Aleksander Barkov (2013) has yet to really put up points, but he made a lot of quality plays today. His hands and vision are apparent and one has to keep in mind he’s a double underaged player in this tournament and you usually don’t expect anything from those players.
Tanner Richard (TBL) is a quality prospect whose skill was on full display today. A top OHL assist leader this season today displayed good puck possession skill as one of Switzerland’s best offensive weapons. He needs to put on a lot of muscle though. Undrafted forwards Alessio Bertaggia, Sven Andrighetto who both play in the CHL and defenseman Dean Kukan all showed good offensive ability as well.
Thoughts from Canada-USA (2-1 Canada):
I thought Dougie Hamilton (BOS) was better today. He’s not playing at his best, but he was defending better than in previous games and once he gets rolling, hopefully for Canada soon, he’ll make a good blueline great. I asked one scout about Hamilton and he said he feels he’s pressing and needs to simplify his game. The scout and myself do agree Hamilton can do a lot more than he’s done so far. Scott Harrington (PIT) continues to impress with his steady defensive play and ability to make little helpful plays everywhere.
This was a game of goaltenders as two top goalie prospects in John Gibson (ANA) and Malcolm Subban (BOS) were at the top of their games. They are slightly different in skill sets, Subban a little better with his athletic tools and Gibson a little better with his positional game, but both of them have the qualities to be starting NHL netminders.
Jacob Trouba (WPG) has been great really dating back to early last year and he continues to get better. He was a force at both ends today and while his strength is his defense, as he’s high-end in that department thanks in part to his great physical game, he showed good ability with the puck as well. He’s quickly climbing my board in terms of his rank among NHL prospects.
Seth Jones (2013) has not had his best tournament and has not been reminiscent of the Seth Jones I’ve seen for the last few years. His hockey sense is elite and his best quality, yet his decision making has been average as of late.
USA’s top scorers haven’t well… scored or better yet produced enough chances to give them opportunities to score. John Gaudreau (CGY), J.T. Miller (NYR) and Rocco Grimaldi (FLA) can, have and should be better than they’ve been so far.
I liked Jake McCabe’s (BUF) performance today. He’s been a physical, quality defensive player. That’s the kind of game USA Hockey has had him perform as a U18 player too but as he’s shown regularly at Wisconsin he have offensive upside too. He did take a dumb penalty at the end of the game though.
Thoughts from Czech Republic-Latvia (4-2 Czech Republic):
Dmitrij Jaskin (STL) and Tomas Hertl (SJS) were very good again. I have heard scouts the last year refer to Jaskin’s upside as a third line winger, but it’s hard to see that. He’s a large man who has been exhibiting above-average hands and offensive sense to go along with improved skating. Jaskin also has a plus power game. Hertl is clearly the most skilled player on the ice whenever he touches a puck. His hands are great and he has unique stickhandling ability for his size.
Radek Faksa (DAL) still hasn’t arrived at Ufa but hopefully for the Czech Republic he does soon because they need a win tomorrow to advance. Martin Frk (DET) did finally show up though with two classic Frk goals, one time slap shots from the point that the goalie never saw even though he was completely unscreened both times.
David Musil (EDM) continues to be average. As a defensive defenseman who excels in tight spaces due to his below-average skating, I’m not sure a big ice surface and a role as an offensive player has been the best situation for him.
Lukas Sedlak (CBJ) was promoted to the Czech’s top PP unit to play in front of the net. He played well again today, showing great work ethic and some decent offensive ability too.