TORONTO/MONTREAL – It has been a week since the World Juniors has ended, with the United States winning the Gold Medal in a thriller against their arch rivals, Team Canada. One of the biggest reasons fans of the hockey world love to watch the world juniors every holiday season is due to the fact that they get a glimpse of the future of their favorite teams.
The best prospects from each team are ranked below:
Toronto Maple Leafs
5) Arizona Coyotes
Pools such as the Buffalo Sabres and the Toronto Maple Leafs could have also overtaken the Coyotes, but when two of the top five offensive talents in the tournament are property of its organization, the Coyotes were a no-brainer to make the top 5.
Along with his gold medal, Clayton Keller was a dynamic forward for the United States. The 2016 first rounder had 11 points, good for 3rd place in tournament scoring. Keller was very noticeable whenever he got the puck, and was arguably the most exciting player to watch in the tournament.
Captaining the Canadians to a silver medal, Dylan Strome was steady for his country. Strome was fourth in the tournament scoring race, and scored big goals for Canada. After a rough start to the season with Arizona, it looks like he regained his confidence at the tournament, in preparation for a long playoff run with the Erie Otters.
4) Tampa Bay Lightning
All Lightning prospects showcased at the World Juniors all played for Canada, and all contributing to the run to the Gold Medal game. Mitchell Stephens came clutch for the Red and White scoring big goals, Anthony Cirelli played an excellent two-way game taking both big defensive face-offs, and contributing offensively as well.
Mathieu Joseph was a nice complimentary player, playing in a bottom six role, and even scoring a big goal in the Gold Medal game. Taylor Raddysh was a powerplay specialist for the Canadians, most notably his 4 goal game against the Latvians. Though not perfect, Connor Ingram was a steady in the crease before his lapse against the Swedes.
3) Boston Bruins
The Boston Bruins defense will be a force to be reckon with for years to come, and it was all shown right in this tournament as all the top Bruins prospects that played in the World Juniors, all played incredible for their respective blue lines.
Behind Thomas Chabot, Charlie McAvoy was the most valuable player to it’s team, logging big minutes and carrying a load offensively for the United States. McAvoy was a +6 and 6 points in 7 games, as well as the 1st US goal in the gold medal game to spark the first comeback. Also a played who played well on the back end for the United States, was Ryan Lindgren who played a key role in killing penalties and was a +3 in the tournament.
Jakob Zboril was arguably the Czech Republic’s best player. The 2015 first round pick (1st of three players picked in that draft), logged huge minutes, double shifting and playing against other countries top player. Tied for the team lead in points with 4, Zboril was once again impressive for the Czech’s.
Jeremy Lauzon was Canada’s biggest surprise for Canada. Even before Felippe Myers’ injury, Lauzon surprised many by his contribution on the back end. The 2015 second rounder, also played even more after Myers’ injury, and was well trusted by Dominic Ducharme.
2) Ottawa Senators
Having the best player in the tournament made it easy for the Ottawa Senators to have the second best prospect pool in the tournament. Thomas Chabot was outstanding for Canada, chipping in offensively, leading all defensemen in scoring and finishing in the top 10 overall with 10 points. He playing ginormous minutes for the Red and White. The 2015 first rounder played 43:00 in the gold medal game. There hasn’t been a Canadian who dominated on both ends of the ice, since Ryan Ellis in 2009, 2010, and 2011.
The performance of USA forward Colin White was another reason the Ottawa Senators finished second place on this list. White was the States’ top line center, paired with Clayton Keller and the two were dynamite together. The also 2015 first rounder was second in the tournament in goals, with 7 and was a clutch player scoring the tying goal in the Gold Medal game.
Jonathan Dalen was also a good contributor the Sweden’s World Junior run. The sens prospect was tied for second on the team in goals, and was the Top player for the Swede’s in their Bronze Medal match-up against the Russians.
1) Minnesota Wild
By far the top prospect pool showcased at the World Juniors was the Minnesota Wild. 2015 5th rounder Kirill Kaprizov was the best offensive performance in the tournament. He led the tournament with 9 goals and was tied with Alex Nylander for the tournament lead in points (12 points).
Jordan Greenway was the most dominant player for the United States. While Charlie McAvoy was more valuable, and Clayton Keller was more dynamic, Greenway on the other hand was the most dominant. The second rounder was impossible to take the puck off of, threw big hits, and played the front of the net on the power play. Not to mention, he had 8 points (3 goals, and 5 assists).
Captain of the States was 2016 first round pick Luke Kunin. Kunin was not impressive offensively, only tallying 4 points, but played a huge role in killing penalties and taking big draws. Kunin’s leadership also led the United States to their first Gold Medal since 2013.
Joel Eriksson Ek was not a lock-in to play for Sweden at the World Juniors, but when the Wild gave Sweden the green light, he lit fires on the scoresheet. He and Alex Nylander were the top dynamic duo in the tournament, and Eriksson Ek finished in the top 5 in tournament scoring with 10 points, (6 goals and 4 assists).