The 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship was extremely anticipated with rosters loaded with extra future NHL expertise than common.
Then COVID-19 reared its ugly head and an outbreak on the match final December compelled the cancellation of the occasion. Many hockey gamers had their desires dashed, however a few of these gamers have the chance to play in probably the most prestigious youth hockey occasion.
As an alternative of beginning on December 26, the 2022 WJC will make an entire restart at the moment and finish on August 20.
When the occasion was cancelled, there was fast dialogue about resuming the sport at a later date with the identical age teams obtainable to play once more.
Within the unique occasion, a number of groups boasted elite rosters with many model names, however on account of varied circumstances, many gamers within the December occasion won’t play. Meaning no Owen Energy of the Buffalo Sabres, no Juraj Slafkovsky of the Montreal Canadiens and no Shane Wright or Matty Beniers of the Seattle Kraken.
Nevertheless, the departure of among the prime expertise has opened the door for different prospects, together with some who might be drafted within the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.
Again in December, Buffalo arguably had the very best prospect within the Energy occasion, and it was a fantastic alternative for him to point out that he is probably the greatest gamers who is not but a full-time NHLer. Even with out him there might be loads of Buffalo followers to root for.
The Sabres’ most notable prospect within the occasion might be 2021 first-round decide Isak Rosen of Sweden. With the proficient group unsettled, Rosen will get an opportunity to attempt to showcase his scoring prowess, which was a giant key to Buffalo choosing him 14th general in 2021. His race the largest might be on his staff for enjoying time. If he cannot get time on the powerplay in opposition to Fabian Lysell, Oskar Olausson and Jonathan Lekkerimaki, then his level complete might undergo.
Whereas Rosen will attempt to battle his approach into the highlight in medal contender Sweden, fellow Sabers prospect Linus Sjodin ought to simply be glad to be there. Sjodin wasn’t initially chosen for the staff in December, however on account of waivers and accidents, the 2022 seventh-round decide finds himself on a Sweden staff that might actually ship a golden win over Canada.
Largely lacking from the match is the Russian Federation, on account of its ban from all IIHF occasions following the invasion of Ukraine, and with that there might be no showcase for the Sabres’ Russian prospects.
With Russia out, the Sabres’ remaining prospect to keep watch over is 2022 first-round decide Jiri Kulich of the Czech Republic. Kulich will kick off all of the motion at the moment at 14:00 when the Czech Republic tackle their relegation rivals Slovakia. With Slovakia’s Simon Nemec, Juraj Slafkovsky and Filip Mesar lacking, Kulich must be the star of the present within the first sport.
Whereas the Czech staff introduced most of its certified gamers, the very best participant on the ice for Slovakia needs to be Adam Sykora, a second-round decide of the New York Rangers in 2022. The opposite notable identify within the sport for Slovakia is Dalibor Dvorsky who might be a prime 10 decide within the 2023 draft.
The highest two groups to emerge from Group A ought to nonetheless be Canada and Finland, adopted by the Czech Republic, Slovakia after which Latvia.
Finland returns most of its roster from December, however Canada ought to nonetheless have the sting led by its all-around expertise Connor Bedard. Bedard would be the first decide within the 2023 draft. He’s the very best prospect to ever come out of Western Canada and is the very best Canadian prospect since Connor McDavid. Every thing Bedard has executed since December has improved, and he’ll be a match MVP candidate due to it.
With out energy on the street, Olen Zellweger might be a major candidate to run the Canadiens from the blue line and Sebastian Cossa in internet makes the Canadiens a favourite for gold.
Nearly each staff was weakened by the relegation December, however none have been harm worse than america. As an alternative of being a staff on a collision course with Canada within the finals, the USA might discover itself with no medal. The lack of skills like Jake Sanderson of the Ottawa Senators and Beniers of the Kraken considerably reduces the star energy of the USA. Luke Hughes is america’ most proficient participant within the match, however it is going to be a tall order for him to steer this staff to glory.
I predict Sweden to beat Canada within the gold medal sport and Finland to prime the Czech Republic within the bronze medal sport.
My match MVP prediction is Swedish goalkeeper Jesper Wallstedt, finest defender might be Sweden’s Simon Edvinsson and finest ahead might be Canada’s Mason McTavish. My all-tournament staff prediction is Wallstedt in objective, Edvinsson and Zellweger in protection and McTavish, Bedard and Finland’s Brad Lambert in assault.