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  • 2020 World Junior Hockey Championships

    I know it's still a ways away, but I'm getting pretty stoked. With it in the Czech Republic this year, all games will be on during the day here. I booked most of it off from work to just chill out and watch with friends, family and strangers at the bar.

    I haven't gone into much detail with roster building yet, but maybe the most exciting thing is that the level of parity this year looks to be as high as I can remember. The usual big five should all be serious contenders. Kazakhstan should be the one real punching bag. Doesn't look like it'll be a great entry from Slovakia either, but Germany will be really fun to watch. With some very good 18 and 19 year olds, and even better 17 year olds, they should have no trouble besting Kazakhstan to stay up, and will remain competitive for a couple more years, so they might just be up for keeps. They look better than Slovakia and maybe even Switzerland.

    The Czechs could have a young team, and might have some trouble with the Swiss and Germans. So I guess on the one hand, none of the bottom five teams will have much hope against the big five, but there should be some competetive games amongst themselves.

    I'm gonna try to do team previews for most of the teams, like last year.

  • #2
    Not going in any particular order with the previews. Starting with Sweden. They look like they will be a serious contender.

    Some possible lines,

    Jonatan Berggren (2018 33rd DET) – Jacob Olofsson (2018 56th MTL) – Samuel Fagemo (2019 50th LAK)

    Lucas Raymond (2020) –David Gustafsson (2018 60th WPG) – Alexander Holtz (2020)

    Nils Höglander (2019 36th VAN) – Oscar Bäck (2018 75th DAL) – Noel Gunler (2020)

    Carl Jakobsson (2018 undrafted) – Nicola Pasic (2019 189th NJD) – Albin Eriksson (2018 44th DAL)

    Adam Edström (2019 161st NYR)

    Rasmus Sandin (2018 29th TOR) – Nils Lundkvist (2018 28th NYR)
    Phillip Broberg (2019 8th EDM) – Adam Boqvist (2018 8th CHI)
    Adam Ginning (2018 50th PHI) – Victor Söderström (2019 12th ARI)
    Albert Johansson (2019 60th DET) / Filip Johansson (2018 24th MIN)

    Hugo Alnefelt (2019 71st TBL)
    Olof Lindbom (2018 39th NYR)

    Filip Hallander (2018 58th PIT) is expected to return from injury in late December. For now I’m assuming he’s out.

    A much better Sweden team than last year. That was an elite defense core, but this year’s could be unreal. They already lost Dahlin. They could yet lose Boqivst and/or Sandin to the NHL. But even if they lose both of them and/or have injuries, plug in any of Adam Wilsby (2018 undrafted), Simon Lundmark (2019 51st WPG), William Kreü (2018 187th BUF) or Matthias Norlinder (2019 64th MTL) and you’ll still have one of the best defense cores in the tournament. With everyone in, they’re even better than Canada’s group.

    But beyond that, their forward group looks to be much better than last year’s. It’s certainly not the best forward group of the tournament, as the older players aren’t elite and the elite players are younger. But it has a lot going for it. First off the wings are loaded with various types of offensive weapons.

    Their center group is a little weaker, but still solid. Oscar Bäck is the defensive specialist, having taken 49.45% of his faceoffs in the defensive zone this year in SHL. Jacob Olofsson has taken 25.00% of his faceoffs in the defensive zone, and he’s the highest scoring junior age center in SHL, so I’m guessing he’s going to center the top scoring line.

    Adam Edström is 6’6, that’s a nice dynamic to add with your 13th forward, should they choose to go that route. David Gustafsson has been playing five minutes per game with Winnipeg, so I would imagine they'll let him go. Would be a huge blow to lose both Gustafsson and Hallander, as Karl Henriksson (2019 58th NYR), Albin Sundsvik (2019 undrafted) and Linus Öberg (2018 undrafted) would be the next best center options.

    Other forward options are Filip Cederqvist (2019 143rd BUF), Albin Grewe (2019 66th DET) Marcus Karlberg (2018 80th CBJ).

    In net, Hugo Alnefelt is only 18 and has played six SHL games this year with ridiculous numbers and started for U18s last year and had pretty good numbers. Olof Lindbom is 19 and has played six games in Allsvenskan with good numbers and started for U18s in 2018 and won bronze with excellent numbers. If I had to guess I'd say the elder Lindbom starts, but likely they both get games through the round robin.

    As for special teams, these are the U20 players playing regular shifts on special teams in the SHL,

    PP ATOI
    Victor Söderström – 3:36
    Nils Lundkvist – 2:09
    Alexander Holtz – 1:46
    Simon Lundmark – 1:30
    Jonatan Berggren – 1:30
    Albin Eriksson – 1:21
    Jacob Olofsson – 1:19
    Nils Höglander – 1:15
    Samuel Fagemo – 0:59
    Philp Broberg – 0:51

    SH ATOI
    Oscar Bäck – 1:41
    Carl Jakobsson – 1:27
    Adam Ginning – 0:44
    Filip Johansson – 0:34
    William Kreü – 0:31
    Nils Lundkvist – 0:29
    Albin Sundsvik – 0:25
    Philip Broberg – 0:21
    Last edited by matchesmalone; 11-20-2019, 07:57 AM.

    Comment


    • #3
      Ah shit, I forgot Simon Holmström, playing in the AHL with 5 points in 18 games. Not much room on either wing, especially the right. A few of those guys can play either wing well, but I can't see who gets left off. Albin Eriksson is a big body power forward, something they don't have much of. Carl Jakobsson is a PK specialist, again not an area of surplus. Noel Gunler was left off the U18 team last year - seems to be issues with attitude or consistency of work ethic. It's likely one or the other, Gunler or Holmström.

      Also Tobias Bjornfot with 6 points in 12 AHL games. Could be in the NHL, but if available he should probably fit in ahead of Ginning and Albert Johansson on the left side, although Ginning is returning so would be tough to leave off.

      Comment


      • #4
        First off, gotta mention another player I missed for Sweden - 2018 eligible undrafted Carl Berglund. He's playing NCAA this year for UMass-Lowell and as a 19 year old freshman he has 13 points in 14 games. He's also 6'2. Not sure he'll make the team but he's definitely put himself on Hockey Sweden's radar, as well as the NHL draft radar.

        Next up is Germany.

        Germany is going to be a team to be reckoned with. They have four first time draft-eligible players likely to be drafted this year; and a strong showing at this tournament by some previously undrafted players could put them on the radar as well; I’m thinking particularly of Taro Jentzsche, Nino Kinder and Filip Varejcka. Defensemen Maksymilian Szuber and Maximillian Glötzl are 2020 first time eligible, and will have a real chance to get drafted, but I do not have making this team. Here’s my roster predictions,

        Tim Stützle (2020) – Lukas Reichel (2020) – Domink Bokk (2018 25th STL)
        Justin Schütz (2018 170th FLA) – Taro Jentzsche (2018 undrafted) – John Jason Peterka (2020)
        Nino Kinder (2019 undrafted) – Tim Fleischer (2019 undrafted) – Yannik Valenti (2019 undrafted)
        Filip Varejcka (2019 undrafted) – Jan Nijenhuis (2019 undrafted) – Dennis Lobach (2018 undrafted)
        Bastian Eckl (2018 undrafted)

        Eric Mik (2018 undrafted) – Moritz Seider (2019 6th DET)
        Simon Gnyp (2019 undrafted) – Leon Hüttl (2019 undrafted)
        Niklas Heinzinger (2018 undrafted) – Alexander Dersch (2018 undrafted)
        Daniel Wirt (2018 undrafted)

        Hendrik Hane (2019 undrafted)
        Arno Tiefensee (2020)

        I don’t actually know if Reichel can play center, but it feels like that group there should be the top six, in some combination. Peterka can play both wings, I’ve only ever seen or heard of Stützle playing the left wing. Could be that one of the young wings gets dropped down to a third line and Fleischer/Jentzsche are the top two centers. Stützle is obviously stapled to the top line (or rather, whichever line he’s on becomes the de facto top line). Bokk could really use a big tournament, as it has been a struggle for him in SHL this year and his stock is at least stagnant, if not falling.

        Other likely forward options would be Luis Schinko, Elias Lindner, Kevin Slezak, Louis Brune; and Steven Raabe would be the most likely defenseman to make it that I’ve left off.

        One of the coolest things for this German team is they’re even bringing back their goalie from the D1 U20 Championship team. He’s playing primarily in the DEL this year, the only U20 goalie doing so. My best guess for their second goalie is 17 year old Arno Tiefensee, who I believe will get drafted this year. He’s 6’4 and putting up phenomenal numbers in DNL.

        Special teams:

        Lukas Reichel plays the right side boards and high slot on the PP for Berlin. Peterka hasn’t had much PP time in DEL, but as the most purely skilled players on the team, it would make sense to put Stützle or Peterka on the right halfwall. I’d like to see a setup with Stützle and Seider on the points, Peterka on the halfwall, Reichel in the high slot and Bokk in the low slot / low left side.

        For the PK, Seider and Dersch will be the main guys on the back end, and up front I’m not really sure, definitely Tim Fleischer, but beyond that all I can say is I expect it will be mostly the older players. Will be interesting to see if Reichel or Stützle get PK time. Bokk has played almost zero PK time in SHL, so I’m also curious if they’ll use him.

        Comment


        • #5
          Holy smoke what a tournament so far.

          How about Shane Pinto from the Sens! Late birthday so it is already his last year eligible, but he's centering the top line, playing all situations and scoring in bunches. Watching him has been so encouraging. Plays like and scores like a pro.

          Stützle has been a treat to watch, the way he dismantles defenses is unreal. Vision and passing looks even better at this level. And he's not afraid to challenge defenders one on one or one on two, despite his team being the obvious underdog. Bokk and Peterka have also looked fantastic for Germany. This German squad is the most interesting group I've seen come up from relegation since the Swiss in 2010. But the Swiss ended up losing both Josi and Sbisa to injury, so this one is even better than that. It's fun to compare how their third and fourth lines get dominated by any line on the USA or Czechs, but their top two lines (Stützle-Schütz-Peterka and Reichel-Jentzsche-Bokk) can hang with any line in the tournament. The top couple players (Seider and Stützle) could be in contention for end of tournament awards.

          Raymond and Holtz have both been incredible for Sweden. That Höglander goal was the best lacrosse goal I've ever seen. In stride to scoop it up at one side of the net and wrap it around the other side. Ridiculous.

          There's been a lot of close games, surprises, upsets. The Czechs beat Russia, and then get embarrassed by Germany today, while Russia has a players only meeting, and comes out like a bull in a china shop on fire to destroy Canada 6-0. Canada looked awful today though. Almost like it was a bunch of juniors playing against pros from the second best league in the world...

          Russia and Sweden look the most frightening (of course, the two teams where practically all their players play in world-class pro leagues). Canada, USA, Finland and Czechs form the next tier, followed by Germany, Slovakia and Switzerland, followed by Kazakhstan. I have a feeling Germany's top players will light up Switzerland and Slovakia if given the chance though.

          Comment


          • #6
            Who do you think Canada will start in net? I think they'll stick with Daws, but he'll be on a short leash.

            Comment


            • #7
              How about that Lafreniere injury? Really hope he makes a full (and ideally quick) recovery.

              Comment


              • #8
                I was happy they went with Hofer, as that was who I wanted to start all along. I hated the move to start Daws. Hated. Sure he's been spectacular in the OHL this year - in a whopping 20 game sample size - but he has absolutely no big game high pressure experience whatsoever. Never played for Team Canada at any level. Won an OHL title last year as a backup. And his OHL playoff stats over the past two years, in just four games, have been atrocious.

                I dunno, they keep showing this lame Comtois bullying commercial. Hard to believe people are so fucking stupid to harass these players online. Not mean or cruel, just plain stupid. Like I kept saying last year: not mad at Markus Phillips for blowing the New Years Eve game, as he should never have been on the team. Not mad at Comtois for missing the penalty shot, as there was half a dozen better options. They're kids, not getting paid to be there. Those were just idiotic calls by the grownups in charge. Fans need to be better at understanding who to blame, and the media needs to be better about informing them.

                Same thing here with Daws. Probably sounded like I was hating on him, but it feels like I'm just stating pretty obvious facts so it seems unfathomable to me that the experts in charge at Hockey Canada could screw things up so bad.

                Great game by Hofer against Germany. He wasn't tested a ton but had to make a few big saves against some really high level talent. Nothing Hockey Canada does at this tournament could shock me at this point, but I will be awful sore if they don't go back to Hofer against the Czechs.

                On Lafreniere, yeah hopefully he's ok. Huge blow to Canada. Even with him in the lineup I was already a little concerned about the team's ability to score goals. The top offensive players simply aren't elite offensive talents, at least not at this point (excepting maybe Bowen Byram?), and Byfield is only 17.

                Speaking of Byfield, he has been pretty far from the best 17 year old draft eligible player in the tournament. Stützle, Raymond and Holtz have all been better. In some cases to varying degrees, far better. An argument could even be made for Peterka and Mysak. I don't want to sound like a broken record so I won't even say it, but what's the difference between Byfield and every other one of those players?

                I suspect Byfield is still probably the second overall pick because of the size and upside - every team wants a 6'4 power center on their top line - but it might end up being more interesting than expected, especially if Raymond builds off this tournament and starts playing with more confidence at the pro level.

                For everyone who has been watching and following Raymond in Frölunda and may have started to forget what an immense talent he is (myself included), holy sweet mother of Jesus. It's like watching a completely different player, his skill level is off the charts, and he can do everything at top speed. It's insane. Different types of players but Raymond might actually be better than Stützle at this tournament.
                Last edited by matchesmalone; 12-31-2019, 01:20 AM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by matchesmalone View Post
                  I was happy they went with Hofer, as that was who I wanted to start all along. I hated the move to start Daws. Hated. Sure he's been spectacular in the OHL this year - in a whopping 20 game sample size - but he has absolutely no big game high pressure experience whatsoever. Never played for Team Canada at any level. Won an OHL title last year as a backup. And his OHL playoff stats over the past two years, in just four games, have been atrocious.

                  I dunno, they keep showing this lame Comtois bullying commercial. Hard to believe people are so fucking stupid to harass these players online. Not mean or cruel, just plain stupid. Like I kept saying last year: not mad at Markus Phillips for blowing the New Years Eve game, as he should never have been on the team. Not mad at Comtois for missing the penalty shot, as there was half a dozen better options. They're kids, not getting paid to be there. Those were just idiotic calls by the grownups in charge. Fans need to be better at understanding who to blame, and the media needs to be better about informing them.

                  Same thing here with Daws. Probably sounded like I was hating on him, but it feels like I'm just stating pretty obvious facts so it seems unfathomable to me that the experts in charge at Hockey Canada could screw things up so bad.

                  Great game by Hofer against Germany. He wasn't tested a ton but had to make a few big saves against some really high level talent. Nothing Hockey Canada does at this tournament could shock me at this point, but I will be awful sore if they don't go back to Hofer against the Czechs.

                  On Lafreniere, yeah hopefully he's ok. Huge blow to Canada. Even with him in the lineup I was already a little concerned about the team's ability to score goals. The top offensive players simply aren't elite offensive talents, at least not at this point (excepting maybe Bowen Byram?), and Byfield is only 17.

                  Speaking of Byfield, he has been pretty far from the best 17 year old draft eligible player in the tournament. Stützle, Raymond and Holtz have all been better. In some cases to varying degrees, far better. An argument could even be made for Peterka and Mysak. I don't want to sound like a broken record so I won't even say it, but what's the difference between Byfield and every other one of those players?

                  I suspect Byfield is still probably the second overall pick because of the size and upside - every team wants a 6'4 power center on their top line - but it might end up being more interesting than expected, especially if Raymond builds off this tournament and starts playing with more confidence at the pro level.

                  For everyone who has been watching and following Raymond in Frölunda and may have started to forget what an immense talent he is (myself included), holy sweet mother of Jesus. It's like watching a completely different player, his skill level is off the charts, and he can do everything at top speed. It's insane. Different types of players but Raymond might actually be better than Stützle at this tournament.
                  Yeah man. Is it just me, or does this tournament have one of the best general talent levels in its history? Recency bias maybe?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Does kinda feel that way, but probably just recency bias.

                    There are two things that stand out about this year's tournament that would contribute to it being a particularly talented tournament.

                    The first is the all around parity and depth of the teams. I can't recall a tournament where so many teams can compete with and win against so many other teams. It's a bit of a weak year for the Finns, but the Czechs have one of their better teams in recent memory. Slovakia is probably a little below average for them, but the Swiss have a good team with three NHL draftees and at least one good 2020. Canada, Russia, USA, Sweden are all roughly average to above average by their standards. And then of course Germany is the revelation of the tournament, vastly better than your typical team up from relegation. And even Kazakhstan has Musorov, who has played 12 KHL and 10 VHL games this year, and through his 17 MHL games I think a legit argument could be made that he's been the best offensive player in that league.

                    The other thing is I'm almost certain I've never seen a tournament with so many U18 draft eligible players being impact players and even stars for their teams. So even if it was an average talent crop for 18 and 19 year olds, when you add in the high level 17 year olds it boosts the overall quality.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Well there we go. Hofer started and got the win, and Lafreniere had a goal and an assist. Semi-finals clinched.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Canada up 4-0 vs Finland 15 minutes into the game.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Aidan Dudas is really good. 4th round steal by LA.

                          Edit: I had him ranked 27-47 in the draft: https://forum.highonhockey.com/node/...9752#post29752

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Josh View Post
                            Aidan Dudas is really good. 4th round steal by LA.

                            Edit: I had him ranked 27-47 in the draft: https://forum.highonhockey.com/node/...9752#post29752
                            Yeah I didn't know anything about him going into this tournament but he's been probably the most impressive surprise for Canada to me.

                            Haha ugh. Zadina over Svechnikov isn't looking like a great call right now. Well I learned a lesson about not putting too much stock in World Juniors for draft eligible players, especially late birthday 18 year olds.

                            Zadina is having a good start to his NHL career though. Still too early to say anything definitive.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Alright, here we go. A chance at redemption, for all the marbles.

                              After getting decimated like that last time, so much of this game will be on coaching making the necessary adjustments. If we've ever had a coach who can pull it off (since Pat Quinn), I have faith in Dale Hunter.

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