In case you’re not up to speed, the 2019 World Junior Championship is here. Three days of preliminary action have already been completed. This year’s marquis hockey prospect event is taking place in Vancouver.
Games can be seen on NHL Network. They’re airing most of the action with superb coverage of the IIHF Under-20 tournament. Team USA and Canada are having all their games shown. So too is Russia. Unlike recent WJC, the United States and Canada are in different groups due to past results. Last year, Canada took back the gold while Sweden won silver, and USA earned bronze.
Group A features Canada, Russia, Czech Republic, Switzerland and Denmark. Both Canada and Russia are 2-0-0-0. They’ll meet on New Year’s Eve as part of a double header. They’re the 8 PM game. Team USA will take on Finland in the second game at 10:30 EST. They’ve been scheduled for the late show most nights, including Friday night when they posted a 8-2 victory over Kazakhstan. For more on the game please refer to the link on Hockey Prospects.
I’ll continue extensive coverage with write ups and tweets. Follow me @derekbfelix. I’ll have plenty of stuff on tonight’s action. USA gets a bug test against Sweden at 10:30 EST tonight. Sweden puts their long winning streak in the preliminaries on the line. I believe it’s up to 46.
There are plenty of players to keep a close eye on. Jack Hughes sat out last night due to a lower body injury. I have a hunch he could be back in. Older brother Quinn looks great so far. The 2018 seventh overall pick of the Canucks will be running the point on the Vancouver power play soon. He’s got all the skills to become a big time defenseman. The Canucks also have the son of ex-Devil John Madden playing for Team USA in Tyler Madden. He scored a nice wraparound goal yesterday.
Flyers prospect Joel Farabee recorded a natural hat trick in the first period yesterday. That trade of Brayden Schenn to St. Louis is looking very promising for the rebuilding Flyers, who also tabbed Canadian standout Morgan Frost in the first round of 2017. Frost had a hat trick and two assists in a blowout win over Denmark.
The Devils have some interesting prospects with current Penn State freshman Aarne Talvitie off to a good start for Finland. The Rangers are well represented with both 2018 first round picks Vitali Kravtsov and K’Andre Miller showing promise.
Sweden boasts future Blackhawks defenseman Adam Boqvist, who teams up with Vegas stud Erik Brannstrom to form a potent top pair. Brannstrom has three goals so far. Boqvist has tallied three assists.
Finland highlights projected second overall pick Kaapo Kakko. A very smooth skating 17-year old center who can both score and set up goals. He’s 1-1-2 thus far.
Montreal should be pleased with prospects Ryan Poehling and Alexander Romanov. Each have recorded three-point games in victories for their countries. Poehling had a shorthanded goal and two helpers last night while Romanov went 1-2-3 against Denmark the other day.
Keep an eye on undrafted Swiss forward Nando Eggenberger. A 19-year old forward with good size and offensive capability, he has a goal and two assists in two games so far. In 31 contests for the Oshawa Generals, he has 26 points (13-13-26). Maybe he’ll catch on with a team next year.
Top prospects Alexis Lafreniere and Vasili Podkolzin are playing in fourth line roles for Canada and Russia. Lafreniere isn’t draft eligible until 2020.