The 2019 IIHF World Junior Champions begin on December 26, 2018 and will conclude with the gold medal game, to be played on January 5, 2019. The event, hosted by Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia, brings together ten teams from around the world to showcase the best under-20 prospects.
The format of the event is as follows: two five team groups will play a round robin format. The top four teams from each group will then advance to a three round, single-elimination playoff. Countries involved this year are as follows:
- Czech Republic
- United States
The Canadians are the defending champions, with Sweden last year’s runners up and the Americans finishing third in 2018.
The Columbus Blue Jackets will have four prospects in Canada for the tournament, with one notable prospect missing the tournament. Let’s take a look at them below.
Kirill Marchenko - Team Russia
Marchenko, a 2018 second round pick by the Blue Jackets (49th overall) will be representing Russia at the World Juniors. Marchenko is an 18 year old winger who can play on either side. He is listed at 6’3” and 187 pounds with a right handed shot.
This year, playing for SKA-1946 St. Petersburg, he has registered 5-11-16 in the MHL, and 2-1-3 for SKA-Neva St. Petersburg in the VHL, while making one appearance (without registering a point) for SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL. Marchenko has been moved between minor leagues in the Russian hockey system, but has shown skill and speed at both levels.
Daniil Tarasov - Team Russia
Tarasov, a 2017 third round pick by the Blue Jackets (86th overall), will also be representing Russia in the World Juniors. Tarasov, a goaltender playing for Toros Neftekamsk of the VHL, has posted a 1.95 GAA and a .916 SV% in 16 games played this season.
Tarasov, listed at 6’4” and 181 pounds, is a big and lanky goaltender with room to grow into his frame. He is expected to be the number one goaltender for Team Russia, one of the favorites heading into this tournament.
Emil Bemstrom - Team Sweden
Bemstrom, a 2017 4th round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets (117th overall), will be representing Sweden at the World Juniors. Bemstrom is in the process of a breakout season on the scoresheet in the Swedish Hockey League, registering 12-4-16 in 23 games played for Djurgardens IF.
The skilled forward can play any of the three positions, and at just 19 years old, is listed at 5’10” and 176 pounds with a right handed shot. According to hockeyprospect.com in 2017, Bemstrom is “a shifty player in open space [...] and has quick hands that tie nicely with his quick feet and smooth edges.” Look for Bemstrom to highlight his offensive prowess in British Columbia.
Tim Berni - Team Switzerland
Berni, a 2018 6th round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets (159th overall), will be representing Team Switzerland at the World Juniors. Berni is a 5’11”, 174 pound defenseman who is currently playing for ZSC Lions in the Swedish NLA. In 23 games this season, he has resisted 0-5-5.
Here’s his scouting report:
Berni is a hard-working puck mover who can hold his own in the physical department but wasn’t as creative as he could have been. It seemed as if Berni and his defense partner — fellow neophyte Davyd Barandun — had trouble dealing with the forecheck more than the other Swiss pairings. Nonetheless, Berni was solid in his one-on-one battles and maintaining a rigid position at his blue line to slow down or turn back opposing entries. He didn’t provide much offense but his speed and playmaking ability are two things he should exploit for next year. - Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst
The Miss - Liam Foudy of Team Canada
A late cut from Canada’s roster, Liam Foudy will not be representing the host country in the World Juniors. Foudy, last year’s first round pick by the Blue Jackets (18th overall) has just 25 points in 25 games (14-11-25) while playing for a loaded London Knights roster and has slightly disappointed after being chosen in the middle of the first round.
Canada boasts a deep roster this tournament and, while Foudy was a high pick, his skill game is not where it needs to be (though physical talent abounds with him), and as a result, he is being left off the roster for Team Canada.
The tournament runs through the early part of the new year - will you be following the World Juniors and the Blue Jackets prospects in attendance?