10 players to watch at the world juniors
- The 2020 world juniors are upon us, and as the best collection of young hockey talent convenes in the Czech Republic, here are 10 players to keep your eyes on over the course of the tournament.
2020 draft eligibles
Alexis Lafreniere, Canada 🇨🇦
Club: Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
- All eyes will be on the projected No. 1 pick in June’s draft, who’s looking to help Canada rebound from a disappointing sixth-place finish last year in Vancouver.
- Lafreniere is having an outrageous season with Rimouski, leading the QMJHL with 70 points in only 32 games.
- He’s a cerebral player with elite offensive skills, and he’s going to be heavily relied upon by head coach Dale Hunter to produce.
Tim Stutzle, Germany 🇩🇪
Club: Adler Mannheim (DEL)
- Germany isn’t expected to do much at this year’s tournament, but Stutzle is definitely a player to monitor.
- The 17-year-old is among the top European draft prospects for 2020 and can skyrocket up the rankings with a strong showing.
- Stutzle is playing at nearly a point-per-game pace in the DEL – Germany’s top league – and he’s probably looking forward to the chance to play against competition his own age.
Quinton Byfield, Canada 🇨🇦
Club: Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
- Byfield is expected to be taken right after Lafreniere in next year’s draft, and has a tremendous chance to bolster his reputation with a big tournament.
- Byfield, like Lafreniere, is an offense machine.
- He’s third in OHL scoring with 57 points in 30 games, but offers a very different tool kit than Lafreniere.
- Byfield is 6-foot-4 and 214 pounds at only 17, making him a rare blend of young size and skill. If your favorite NHL team is currently near the bottom of the standings, keep an eye on this guy.
Lucas Raymond, Sweden 🇸🇪
Club: Frolunda (SHL)
- Raymond is another player expected to be taken early in the 2020 draft.
- He’s split time between juniors and Sweden’s top league this season, and offers plenty of speed, hockey sense, and offensive skill.
- He’s expected to play a big role in helping Sweden end a long drought and win its first gold since 2012.
Yaroslav Askarov, Russia 🇷🇺
Club: SKA-Neva St. Petersburg (VHL)
- Goalies are hard to gauge at such a young age, by Askarov’s an X-factor for Russia.
- The 17-year-old has been impressive in previous international competition, posting a .960 save percentage in four games at the 2019 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup.
Bowen Byram, Canada 🇨🇦
NHL rights: Colorado Avalanche
Club: Vancouver Giants (WHL)
- Byram is yet another top defenseman in the Avalanche’s system and should have no trouble asserting himself on the world stage.
- The 18-year-old is exceptionally gifted offensively but thrives in all three zones, so expect him to be a catalyst for Canada every time he’s on the ice.
Cole Caufield, USA 🇺🇸
NHL rights: Montreal Canadiens
Club: University of Wisconsin
- Caufield is going to play big minutes for an American team that’s going to be contending for a gold medal.
- Montreal’s 2019 first-rounder possesses one of the most lethal releases outside the NHL, and he’s scored the second-most goals in the NCAA this season with 12 in 18 games.
Rasmus Kupari, Finland 🇫🇮
NHL rights: Los Angeles Kings
Club: Ontario Reign (AHL)
- Kupari, 19, is back for his third world juniors appearance.
- As one of the older players in the tournament, he should find a way to dominate for the defending champions, who are rostering several players already drafted by NHL clubs.
- Kupari is arguably Finland’s best offensive threat, and he’s looking to build on last year’s performance, when he had five points in seven games.
Alexander Romanov, Russia 🇷🇺
NHL rights: Montreal Canadiens
Club: CSKA Moscow (KHL)
- Romanov returns to Russia’s junior squad after winning top defenseman honors in last year’s tournament.
- The 19-year-old is poised on the back end and looks primed to be an impact NHLer in the near future, so much so that Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin said he expects the 2018 second-rounder to be on the Canadiens next season.
Nils Hoglander, Sweden 🇸🇪
NHL rights: Vancouver Canucks
Club: Rogle BK (SHL)
- Hoglander is one of the flashiest players in the tournament – he scored a lacrosse-style goal in the SHL earlier this season, if you’re wondering about his hands.
- He owns scintillating offensive skills and isn’t afraid to get creative when he sees a chance to score.
- Even if he doesn’t convert, Hoglander has the ability to wow every time he has the puck, making him a player to highlight on a deep Swedish roster.
Sources & Credits: The Score
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