At the IIHF World Championships, Sweden took home the gold medal while Dean Kukan and Switzerland won the silver medal. Blue Jackets on Team USA Cam Atkinson and Sonny Milano bested Pierre-Luc Dubois and Ryan Murray in the bronze medal match to leave Canada off the podium.
Many Columbus Blue Jackets players made their mark on the tournament. Let’s take a look back on their performances.
Cam Atkinson played extremely well in the 2018 IIHF World Championships, earning honors as one of Team USA’s top three players of the tournament. Atkinson posted seven goals, four assists, and eleven points in 16:09 per game to help the Americans earn a bronze medal. Atkinson also scored two game winning goals in the tournament.
Sonny Milano played sparingly for the Blue Jackets, earning just 3:10 per game as he dressed for eight games. He posted one goal and one assist with a +3 rating for the United States, earning a bronze medal in Denmark.
Markus Nutivaara was named as one of Finland’s top three players of the tournament as he finished tied for the tournament lead in scoring by defensemen with Charlie McAvoy. Nutivaara scored three goals and six assists for a total of nine points. Finland failed to medal in the tournament. Nutivaara signed a four year extension this past season with the Blue Jackets.
Murray might have been the biggest disappointment of the tourament among Blue Jackets players outside of Sonny Milano. Murray saw his ice time drop from over 20 minutes per night to just 15 over the course of the tournament, averaging just 14:47 for the championships. He scored just one assist and a -1 rating in ten games played. Murray struggled for the Blue Jackets this year and his showing in the world championships did not help his contract negotiations this summer.
Dubois missed one game and part of another due to injuries in the Championship, but when he played, he was a monster. Dubois played in nine games, notching three goals, four assists, and seven points with a +4 rating in just 11:24 per night. Again, he’s only 19 years old. Dubois did not play first line minutes, nor did he even play at center for Canada. The sky is the limit for this kid with the Jackets.
Oliver Bjorkstrand, fresh off a forty point season, saw top six minutes for Denmark and played on the power play, but he did not make an offensive impact as he only was able to post one goal and two assists in seven games as he played 15:55 per night. Bjorkstrand will be a restricted free agent this offseason for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Kukan was the only Blue Jacket to play for the championship as his Swiss team fell to Sweden. Kukan played on the second pairing for Switzerland, posting one goal and two assists in ten games as he earned a silver medal. Kukan recently signed a two year extension with the Blue Jackets.
Gavrikov, Russian prospect for the Blue Jackets, played all eight games as Russia failed to medal at the World Championships. He registered 1 assist and a +7 rating in 18:40 per night for the Russians, a monstrous workload for the youngster. He cannot come to North America until the 2019-20 season as a result of contract in the KHL, but GM Jarmo Kekalainen believes he could play for the team right now.
Texier, newly minted Columbus Blue Jacket after signing his three year entry level contract on Tuesday afternoon, played for the first time at the IIHF World Championships this year. He posted 0 goals, 3 assists, and ten penalty minutes in seven games played for the French national team. Texier will not come to North America until the 2019-20 season.
Ah, Elvis. The darling of the tournament for CBJ fans with an eye on the goaltending position. Merzlikins played his way into top three honors for Latvia, posting a 1.50 goals against average and a .940 save percentage for the tournament to go along with two shutouts. Merzlikins is rumored to be looking for a move to North America right now, so his development will be something to keep an eye on this summer in light of Sergei Bobrovsky’s contract situation.