The World Juniors are as much a part of the holidays as Santa Claus, Bowl Games and too much turkey and treats. Last year the Finns won on home ice, defeating Russia in the Gold medal game. The Americans took bronze, defeating Sweden.
As is the case every year, Team Canada is considered the favorite, despite some relatively poor showings in recent tournaments. The event returns to Canada this year, with Montreal and Toronto sharing hosting duties.
There are two groups of teams in the tournament: Group A consists of the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland, while Group B features Canada, Latvia, Russia, Slovakia and the United States.
Group A will be interesting, as the Czechs are looking to finally get their junior program back on track. A surprise win at the Ivan Hlinka tournament this summer bodes well for their future, though it may not be seen at this World Juniors. Jakub Zboril is a player to keep an eye on for the Czechs. Finland will take a step back after winning it all last season, with Patrik Laine, Jesse Puljujarvi and Sebastian Aho graduating to the NHL. Denmark will be looking to avoid relegation after surprisingly finishing ahead of Switzerland last year. Speaking of the Swiss, they should be much better than last season, led this year by 2017-eligible Nico Hischier and CBJ prospect Calvin Thurkauf. The Swedes will likely own this division, with plenty of firepower and a stud blueline.
4) Czech Republic
Group B will be the more competitive division. Canada and Russia should duke it out for tops in the division, with the USA not far behind. Canada has a deep and talented roster, and a stud goaltender in Carter Hart. Russia will always be able to score, but this year’s squad will be able to back that up with a solid blueline. The American squad is tough to define this year, and like the World Cup squad it seems like the Americans aren’t built to win the tournament, rather they are built to prevent other teams from doing so. This method rarely works in hockey. Slovakia was dealt a tough hand by being placed in this division, but they shouldn’t have to worry about relegation as that will be the prime concern of Latvia, promoted to the top tournament after winning Division 1 last year.
The teams play a round-robin within their division, with the top four teams in each advancing to the playoff round. The teams are then seeded 1A-4B, 2B-3A, 1B-4A, 2A-3B.
Latvia and Denmark will play a best-of-three, with the losing team being relegated. I predict the Danes to defeat Latvia, with the latter going down to Division 1. Belarus will return to the main tournament in 2018 after winning Division 1.
Sweden def. Slovakia
Russia def. Finland
Canada def. Czechs
USA def. Switzerland
Sweden def. Russia
Canada def. USA
Canada defeats Sweden for the Gold Medal. USA downs the Russians for Bronze.
Notables for fans of the Jackets and Ohio hockey:
- Columbus, Ohio product and former Miami of Ohio forward Jack Roslovic (damn you, Jets!) will be a go-to player for Team USA.
- Ohio State Buckeye Tanner Laczynski will suit up for Team USA. Laczynski was a 6th round pick of the Flyers.
- Pierre-Luc Dubois, the prized prospect of the Jackets, will play for Team Canada. In the pre-tournament games he’s been a fixture on the top line, playing left wing beside Dylan Strome. Also, if you hadn’t heard yet Dubois was traded from the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles to the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. This is good for Dubois, as he’ll finish the season with a contender.
- Gabriel Carlsson will again play for the Swedes, and like last year will almost assuredly be partnered with Anaheim Ducks first rounder Jacob Larsson.
- There was a chance that CBJ prospect Veeti Vainio would be considered for Team Finland, but his season is over thanks to an injury that requires surgery.
- Vitali Abramov did not make Team Russia. If you watched any of the Canada-Russia series earlier this fall, Abe didn’t have a great showing, and the fact that he plays in Canada has (like it or not) worked against him. For what it’s worth, he’s been terrific for Gatineau the past few weeks.
- Calvin Thurkauf will be an important player for the Swiss, this year’s tournament could serve as a springboard for him after being drafted by the Jackets.
2017 World Juniors Schedule
|26 Dec, Mon||13:00 ET||Preliminary||SWE vs DEN|
|26 Dec, Mon||15:30 ET||Preliminary||USA vs LAT|
|26 Dec, Mon||17:00 ET||Preliminary||CZE vs FIN|
|26 Dec, Mon||20:00 ET||Preliminary||CAN vs RUS|
|27 Dec, Tue||13:00 ET||Preliminary||CZE vs SUI|
|27 Dec, Tue||16:00 ET||Preliminary||LAT vs RUS|
|27 Dec, Tue||17:30 ET||Preliminary||DEN vs FIN|
|27 Dec, Tue||20:00 ET||Preliminary||CAN vs SVK|
|28 Dec, Wed||17:00 ET||Preliminary||SUI vs SWE|
|28 Dec, Wed||19:30 ET||Preliminary||SVK vs USA|
|29 Dec, Thu||13:00 ET||Preliminary||DEN vs CZE|
|29 Dec, Thu||15:30 ET||Preliminary||RUS vs USA|
|29 Dec, Thu||17:30 ET||Preliminary||FIN vs SWE|
|29 Dec, Thu||20:00 ET||Preliminary||LAT vs CAN|
|30 Dec, Fri||17:00 ET||Preliminary||SUI vs DEN|
|30 Dec, Fri||19:30 ET||Preliminary||SVK vs LAT|
|31 Dec, Sat||13:00 ET||Preliminary||SWE vs CZE|
|31 Dec, Sat||15:30 ET||Preliminary||USA vs CAN|
|31 Dec, Sat||17:30 ET||Preliminary||FIN vs SUI|
|31 Dec, Sat||20:00 ET||Preliminary||RUS vs SVK|
|2 Jan, Mon||11:00 ET||Relegation||TBD|
|2 Jan, Mon||13:00 ET||Quarter-Final||TBD|
|2 Jan, Mon||15:30 ET||Quarter-Final||TBD|
|2 Jan, Mon||17:30 ET||Quarter-Final||TBD|
|2 Jan, Mon||20:00 ET||Quarter-Final||TBD|
|3 Jan, Tue||17:30 ET||Relegation||TBD|
|4 Jan, Wed||15:00 ET||Semi-Final||TBD|
|4 Jan, Wed||19:30 ET||Semi-Final||TBD|
|5 Jan, Thu||11:00 ET||Relegation||TBD|
|5 Jan, Thu||15:30 ET||Bronze Medal||TBD|
|5 Jan, Thu||20:00 ET||Gold Medal||TBD|