by Corey Pronman
Day 3 was pretty action packed and there’s a lot to talk about so let’s get to it. Again I’m covering all the game on Twitter (@coreypronman).
Thoughts from Finland-Czech Republic (3-1 Czech Republic):
The Czechs were poor in their game vs. Sweden but came to play today especially their top players. The first line of Tomas Hyka (LAK), Tomas Hertl (SJS) and Dmitrik Jaskin (STL) were all excellent. Hyka showed great speed, a good shot on the Czech’s first goal and fine playmaking skills. Hertl had several “wow” caliber shifts where he dangled through 3 or so Finnish players and exhibited a very high level of offensive upside. Jaskin brought some nice if not surprising offensive creativity to go along with a good power game. Jaskin was named player of the game for the Czechs. Lukas Sedlak (CBJ) played well too, showing good speed, solid hands and great work ethic.
Radek Faksa (DAL) and Martin Frk (DET) had another poor game from an offensive standpoint as they created very little. Faksa though showed solid defensive ability at even-strength and on the penalty kill.
Finland’s top guns didn’t do as much as they have over the last few days. Joel Armia (BUF) had good flashes but wasn’t as dangerous as I’ve written about recently. The top line as a whole didn’t do all that much but they weren’t ineffective and did create some chances. On their second line Aleksander Barkov (2013) had a pretty good game as did Teuvo Teravainen (CHI) from a puck movement standpoint but asides from one goal and an odd chance there wasn’t a whole lot of offense.
Finland’s goaltender Joonas Korpisalo (CBJ) held them in the game, stopping a barrage of quality scoring chances. I liked his athleticism for his size and he moves around the crease with good quickness. Some of Finland’s defensemen struggled, but I did like Rasmus Ristolainen (2013) and Ville Pokka (NYI). Their 5th-7th defenders were on the opposite end.
Thoughts from Canada-Slovakia (6-3 Canada):
Canada got some quality games from Ryan Strome (NYI), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (EDM) and some good flashes from Jonathan Huberdeau (FLA). Strome showed some great creativity and was great whenever he had the puck. Mark Scheifele (WPG) got player of the game, but I probably wouldn’t have awarded it. I thought he was solid though as he was physical and was able to make some offense happen but I wouldn’t classify his game as dynamic.
The Canada defense continues to be a work in progress, but I did like Xaiver Ouellet (DET) and Morgan Rielly (TOR) the former who I thought was Canada’s best player. One scout described Ouellet to me as the kind of defenseman who can project to log a lot of minutes because he can do whatever kind of role is needed. Rielly’s offensive ability shone as when he’s on his unique ability to create with the puck can be a real asset. Ryan Murphy (CAR) has never been known as a defensive player, and he has been known as a risk with the puck, but he can be better than he is right now and likely will be. Steve Spott is his coach and I think he knows this, but with so many good weapons available it’s a risk continuing to play him at this low and counter-productive performance level.
Slovakia has two draft eligible prospects in Marko Dano and Martin Reway who have done well the last two days. Dano has been hyped for a few years, but Reway, who is scoring at about a point per game in the QMJHL as a 17 year old is the interesting one. He’s quick and highly skilled, but he is small so I’m not sure if he’s skilled enough yet at his size to be a top three round prospect.
Thoughts from Sweden-Switzerland (3-2 Sweden SO):
I’ve liked the top line for Sweden for the last few days, and they showed good flashes in the first, but afterwards the combo of Rickard Rakell (ANA), William Karlsson (ANA) and Filip Forsberg (WSH) all struggled and it didn’t look pretty. The wingers displayed skill, but had way too many giveaways or would enter the zone with no help. Karlsson was just invisible.
I did like Emil Molin (DAL) who has been one of the better surprises of the tournament. He’s skilled and fast, with above-average if not flashing high-end hockey sense. He set up the first goal to Sebastian Collberg (MTL) who was average for most of the game but showed an elite shot with his one time blast.
Sweden’s defenders struggled in their own end. Mikael Vikstrand (OTT) is good offensively, but he got beat a few times and his average speed was exposed. Emil Djuse (Undrafted) and Christian Djoos (WSH) also had defensive end issues.
Every year it seems Team Sweden brings an undrafted player who shines for them. This year it is Filip Sanberg. He’s small but has high-end offensive skill.
I didn’t get much from Switzerland’s top prospects. There was some occasional flash from undrafted players Alessio Bertaggia and Sven Andrighetto as well as Tanner Richard (TBL) but it seemed like more of a team effort than anyone really standing out. Marcel Muller (2013) did look good though on defense and may be making a case for a top two round prospect in 2013.
Thoughts from Russia-USA (2-1 Russia):
The two goalies in this game John Gibson (ANA) and Andrei Makarov (BUF) were both at the top of their games. Gibson is an elite goalie prospect and while I’d quality Makarov as just a solid prospect he’s certainly been lights out for Russia’s U20 team.
The top line for the USA of John Gaudreau (CGY), J.T. Miller (NYR) and Rocco Grimaldi (FLA) were very good in the first period, creating several chances and working hard but didn’t get much done after that. One has to wonder if that line gets a shake up at some point. Alex Galchenyuk (MTL) was great again, as it seems he hasn’t had a bad period yet, but for some odd reason his ice time was severely cut.
The top four defensemen for the US minus Seth Jones (2013) were pretty good today as Mike Reilly (CBJ), Shayne Gostisbehere (PHI) and especially Jacob Trouba (WPG) were quality. Reilly showed high-end offensive ability while the other two players were good in both ends.
For a player who may only still be with the team because of a Stefan Matteau (NJD) head hit in a exhibition game , Jimmy Vesey (NSH) has taken his role as a 13th forward and ran with it and towards the end of the game he clearly vaulted up the depth chart. He has quality puck skills and offensive hockey sense.
For Russia the “second” line of Nikita Kucherov (TBL), Mikhail Grigorenko (BUF) and Anton Slepyshev (Undrafted) were again clearly their best offensive unit. Grigorenko may have been the team’s best player today despite no production. It’s still weird to me Slepyshev was not drafted. One can argue about exactly how talented he is and the transfer risk, but it must be really hard to make a case he is not worth a top 3 round pick at the very least.
Nail Yakupov (EDM) and Alexander Khokhlachev (BOS) were ineffective again. These two players were very quality as linemates at the last World Juniors so these past two games may just be outliers and they’re both very good players, familiar with large ice surfaces and have had good chemistry.
Daniil Zharkov (EDM) started off on the fourth line but with a solid performance he ended up taking some shifts here and there on a scoring line. He showed a quality amount of skill making some flashy plays on top of some good defense too. He’s a weird prospect as every time I see him he always is really impressive but he just never produces.