WJC Player Assessments – 4th to 9th Place Finishers

This post will focus on viewings of players that were not on medal winning teams. I look mostly to players with NHL potential.

Stay tuned for assessments of players from the top 3 teams!

Sweden

The Swedes lost out to the Americans in the Bronze Medal game.

Their chances were dealt a blow in game 1 of the tournament when William Nylander was hit with an illegal check and he went on to miss all the remaining games.

William Nylander – he managed to score one goal and was looking good before the hit that ended his tournament. Of course he came in leading the AHL in scoring and has all the makings of a quality NHL scoring forward for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Alexander Nylander – younger brother of William and son of Michael, Alexander rose to the challenge of carrying the scoring load once his brother went down. A first round rated prospect, he led the Swedes in scoring. He showed skill and creativity even within a fairly rigid Swedish defensive system.

Adrian Kempe – second leading scorer on team Sweden brought his pro game to the tournament, using his size and hockey sense to be a factor. The LA Kings prospect was steady without the puck and assertive with it. I also got to see him in the AHL playoffs last spring, in addition to this performance at the World Juniors. He looks to have a long future in the NHL.

Dmytro Timashov – finished 3rd in scoring for Sweden. He was dangerous and productive while playing within the system. Also a Toronto Maple Leafs draftee.

Oskar Lindblom – pre-tournament research on Lindblom indicated he was a player that creates space and scores off rebounds, working the dirty areas of the ice. His performance showed those skills and a good amount of talent overall. His style will always be effective and he should have a long career since he is willing to put in the work. He is a Philadelphia Flyers draft pick.

Defense – the Swedish defenseman were efficient and effective, however no one player really stood out from the pack.

Linus Soderstrom – the star of the Swedish team, their starting goalie and Islanders 4th rounder gave a great performance putting up 2 shutouts in 5 games played. He only allowed 2 goals in the Semifinal loss against the offensively powerful Finns and did not get the start in the lopsided Bronze Medal loss against the USA. Soderstrom was named top goaltender of the World Juniors and to the tournament all-star team.

Canada

The Canadians did not have great success, losing in the Quarterfinal to Finland.

Due to scheduling and different arenas I only saw them play once, versus the USA.

With that game, some TV coverage, and media reports it seems that Dylan Strome was by far their best forward and there was no real standout on D or in goal. Strome went 3rd overall to Arizona last year and has a bright future.

Of course many players on Team Canada will have pro careers and undoubtedly some will have long NHL tenures. As a nation, Canada needs to realize that the game is more balanced internationally than ever and the parity of this tournament in recent years is likely the way it will continue for some time.

Czech Republic

The Czechs tried to play their typically defensive game, but they just did not have the team to execute that style and score enough goals to beat the higher powered nations this year.

They had players that were noticeable, including David Pastrnak, Michael Spacek, Jiri Smejkal, and Dominik Lakatos. Pastrnak has already pretty much punched his ticket to the NHL with the Boston Bruins. Spacek was drafted by Winnipeg, while Smejkal and Lakatos have both been passed over in the NHL Draft.

However, for me the biggest item of note was who was a non-factor. New Jersey Devils 6th overall pick Pavel Zacha did not provide any meaningful play that I saw in my viewings of the Czechs. I was really hoping he was going to show something special at this tournament and he was nearly invisible.


Slovakia

The Slovaks played a very good tournament, staying with most teams. Without a lethal scorer though, their medal hopes were dashed.

They had a good team concept and no skaters really stood out above others.

Adam Huska – their goaltender turned in a nice performance overall. He is still playing US junior hockey, but looked at home facing a world class level of competition. He is a NY Rangers 7th rounder, so he may be in the mix to replace Henrik Lundqvist someday.

Denmark

Once again Denmark showed their mettle and avoided even playing in the relegation round.

Alexander True – this big forward did not show a great deal offensively, though he did tie for the team scoring lead with 2 points. He did exhibit good hockey sense and used his size fairly well. He looks like he could have a pro future whether his offensive game blossoms or not. 2016 draft eligible after being overlooked last year and currently playing for Seattle in the WHL.

Switzerland

The Swiss were unable to mount an offensive attack in Group A play and their goaltending was not up to the test against the US and Sweden. In the end they easily beat Belarus in the relegation round.

Denis Malgin – he was their most noticeable forward and led the team in scoring. A Florida Panthers 4th rounder, hopefully I will be able to watch his career progress with the Portland Pirates of the AHL.

Noah Rod – the San Jose 2nd rounder was second in team scoring, but did not put those points up when it mattered. Overall his performance was disappointing, but his team was also overmatched.

Timo Meier – another player one would have expected more from since he went 9th overall to the Sharks in 2015, he tied for third in team scoring, but was not much of a factor in games against the more potent squads.


Belarus

This is the one team we failed to see in action at the 2016 World Juniors. They have some prospect talent, but were easily put down in all their games.

They lost the relegation round two games to none to Switzerland, so next year Latvia will take their place against the major nations.


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