World Junior Championship: Highlights of NHL prospects, scores, quarterfinal preview
Itd be impossible to have a list of impressive forwards without SwedensElias PetterssonVancouver Canucks), who had four goals and six points in the preliminary round. He also had arguably the most memorable highlight of the opening round with this sick display against Switzerland.
On Swedens defensive end, they got great performances from their blue line stud in Rasmus Dahlin (2018 eligible). The 17-year-old Dahlin, who is expected to be the top pick in this summers draft, had five assists and might have been the best defenseman in the preliminary round. Also impressive on Swedens great blue line unit wereTimothy LiljegrenToronto Maple Leafs) andErik Brannstrom(Vegas Golden Knights).
The medal round (and relegation portion) kicks off on Tuesday in Buffalo. The United States will have a tough road (one that could possibly include Russia, Sweden and Canada) if they hope to repeat as gold medalists for the first time in program history, so now is when the real test begins.
For the Czech Republic, bothMartin NecasCarolina Hurricanes) and Filip Zadina (2018 eligible) were great playing alongside each other in the opening round. Necas really showcased his vision and creativity as a playmaker, and Zadina has pretty great at creating chances for himself and finishing on those opportunities. He had three goals in the opening round.
Sweden had several players come up big for them at points during the opening round, includingLias AnderssonNew York Rangers), who led all players with five goals in the prelims. Alex Nylander (Buffalo Sabres) only had one goal, but he did record six assists. Plus, his one goal was a beauty.
The preliminary round at the 2018 World Junior Championship in Buffalo came to a close on Sunday, and now the real fun begins.
The 2018 World Juniors medal round runs through this week, with the tournament concluding with medal games on Friday. Heres a complete rundown of the next wave of games:
Also impressive in the preliminary round were American forwards Brady Tkachuk (2018 eligible) andKieffer BellowsNew York Islanders). Tkachuk had six points (two goals, four assists) and was an undeniable presence on the ice. Hes got a very high motor and fiercely competes on every shift. Hes got a great combination of skill, speed, size and toughness that will make him a top pick in this summersNHLDraft.
The tables have been set with Canada and Sweden grabbing top spots in their respective groups. The United States finished just behind Canada in Group A and will have a tougher road to the gold medal game if they hope to repeat as champions at the annual U-20 tournament. That road begins with a quarterfinal matchup against Russia on Tuesday night.
Klim Kostin(St. LouisBlues) was the standout for Russia in the preliminary round. Hes showed excellent ability and creativity in the offensive end and netted four goals. Kostin was selected with the first-round pick that thePenguinstraded as part of their package to acquireRyan Reaveslast summer.
Canada got solid performances from several players in the prelims — includingVictor MeteMontreal Canadiens),Dillon DubeCalgary Flames),Sam SteelAnaheim Ducks) andCale Makar(Colorado Avalanche) — but their true standout may have honestly been goaltenderCarter HartPhiladelphia Flyers). The 19-year-old had a .940 save-percentage through three starts. He wasnt able to steal a game in the shootout loss to the United States, but Hart managed to keep his team in the game as the Americans stormed back late. He may not be super flashy, but hes technically sound and seems to keep his composure in high-pressure situations and thats what you like to see from a young goalie.
The 19-year-old Pettersson has an impressive offensive game already and is one of those players who looks to be dangerous from just about anywhere on the ice. Hes got excellent finishing ability and has been a weapon for Sweden.
The 19-year-old Mittelstadt has excellent vision and creativity with the puck on his stick and hes great at creating space to help facilitate offense. Every now and then he can do it all by himself, too.
USA forwardCasey Mittelstadt(Buffalo Sabres) was the best player in the opening round of the tournament, leading all players with nine points (four goals, five assists) in the four preliminary games. The Americans forward group was a little shaky as a whole, but they were carried by strong performances from their stars, and no star was brighter than Mittelstadt.
Casey Mittelstadt of the United States skates up ice with the puck as Dillon Dube of Canada pursues.
If you missed any or all of the action from the opening round, dont worry — weve got you covered. Now is a great time to jump onboard for one of the most fun hockey events of the year, but heres what you need to know from the preliminary round that was.