What a weird season it has been for William Nylander. From starting the year training in Austria without an NHL contract to struggling when he finally did start playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Nylander scuffled a great deal in his third full NHL season. And then he proceeded to put on a beating at the World Championship in Slovakia.
With the round-robin portion of the tournament complete, Nylander leads all players with 17 points in just seven games. Nylander’s 2.43 points-per-game average is the best among players with at least five games played since 1981. Not bad, given just how dominant Patrick Kane was for the United States last year when he was named MVP with 20 points. A lot of Nylander’s points have come against teams such as Norway and Austria, but his three-point night against Switzerland was vital in a 4-3 victory near the end of the tournament. If the award was given out now, Nylander is the clear tournament MVP.
The tournament now heads to the elimination portion on Thursday, with four quarterfinal matchups kicking off the fun. But how did everyone else stack up in the round robin? Let’s have a gander at how the remaining NHL players are doing on a team-by-team basis (franchises with no skaters remaining are not included):
Forward Adam Henrique’s tournament has been quite lackluster, with the Team Canada rookie recording just one assist. Defenseman Korbinian Holzer had a goal against France early in the tournament as Germany looks to play the upset role in the quarterfinal.
Through seven games, Keller was one of 10 players on the Americans to record at least four points and started to show some chemistry with Dylan Larkin and James van Riemsdyk on USA’s second line. Swedish defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson finished the round robin with two points in a 7-4 rout by Russia, to give him six points in seven games, good to tie him for third in tournament scoring by a blueliner. Fellow Swede Mario Kempe sat out three of Sweden’s games and finished with just two points.
Nothing but good things can be said about Sam Reinhart’s tournament, with the Canadian forward finishing with five points in seven games on a line with Anthony Cirelli and Sean Couturier. Fellow Canadian Brandon Montour was knocked out of the tournament early due to an injury, but Buffalo’s third representative, Jack Eichel, has eight points through seven games for the United States.
With 14 points on the Czech Republic, Michael Frolik has been one of the best forwards in the tournament thanks to his seven goals. On the flipside, Johnny Gaudreau has had a miserable experience with the United States, scoring just one goal early in the tournament early on. Fellow Americans Derek Ryan (four points) and Noah Hanifin (three points) have shown more promise, but Ryan did miss a few shifts against Canada after running into Kyle Turris.
Impressively, eight of the nine Blackhawks players participating in the tournament are still active. Patrick Kane leads all Americans with 10 points but it’s still a far cry from his 20 points a year ago in an MVP effort by the left winger. Kane has been USA’s best playmaker, but it’s time for him to start putting pucks in the net after a 3-0 loss to Canada on Tuesday. Alex DeBrincat has been fantastic for the Americans, recording six goals and eight points, and Henri Jokiharju has been stellar on a defensively-sophisticated Finnish squad.
The Swedes were the most dangerous offensive team in the tournament, and Gabriel Landeskog managed to join in on the fun with five points in just four games. Pavel Francouz only had two starts for the Czechs, but stopped all 31 shots between Italy and Austria for consecutive shutouts prior to the end of the round robin. Despite just having two goals to his credit, forward Sven Andrighetto has been superb for the Swiss. Expect Philipp Grubauer to start the quarterfinal for Germany after an impressive 39-save performance against Finland on Tuesday.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Six players made the jump to the World Championship after a second-round failure against Boston, with Pierre-Luc Dubois immediately jumping into a scoring role with Canada with four points through five contests. Zach Werenski finally made his debut with the Americans on Tuesday but should play an important role in the quarterfinal match and beyond. Alexander Wennberg has been dynamite with eight points in five games.
Dallas had two players show up midway through the tournament, with Radek Faksa exploding for four goals in as many games for the Czech Republic. John Klingberg hasn’t been too shabby with Sweden, either, with the reigning top defender at the World Championship sitting second in team scoring by a defenseman with three points in just four battles.
Detroit Red Wings
Anthony Mantha has been on a path of destruction in Slovakia, recording seven goals and five points to finish as Canada’s most dangerous goal scorer in the preliminary round. But a hit to the head on USA’s Colin White on Tuesday took away a lot of the goodwill resulted in a one-game suspension that will see him miss the quarterfinal. Fellow Canadian Tyler Bertuzzi may draw back into the lineup now after finishing the first round as a healthy scratch. Czech Republic defender Filip Hronek, however, is well on his way to win the IIHF’s top defenseman award after leading all blueliners with 10 points. USA forwards Dylan Larkin (five points) and Luke Glendening (two points) are still in the hunt as well.
As expected, Leon Draisaitl is a major reason why the Germans qualified for the quarterfinal, with his five goals and eight points leading his team to one of the strongest first rounds in the tournament. Defensemen Darnell Nurse (Canada) and Adam Larsson (Sweden) have three points each.
Currently in a three-way tie for first in goals with seven, Evgenii Dadonov has been one of Russia’s most lethal forwards once again internationally. Since 2000, only Ilya Kovalchuk (86), Evgeni Malkin (67) and Alexander Ovechkin (64) have more points than Dadonov (51) for the Russians at the World Championship level. Elsewhere, Frank Vatrano has three points for USA in a depth role.
Los Angeles Kings
Kovalchuk has been able to shake off a terrible NHL campaign to record five points for Russia, tying the mark he set in his last tournament appearance in 2015. Alec Martinez has been spectacular for the Americans with four assists, while Adrian Kempe has six points for a Swedish team that can’t stop scoring.
Kevin Fiala had a dominant start to open up the tournament, posting four goals and five points in his first three games. But in his past four, Fiala has just one assist in what has been a quiet second half for the Swiss forward. American defender Ryan Suter’s first World Championship appearance in the past decade has been a successful one so far, with the strong two-way defender recording five assists in the round robin. Fellow American Luke Kunin just joined the team, taking Jack Hughes’ fourth-line spot on Tuesday.
Talk about a revival: after a disappointing 23 points with Nashville this year, Turris has ramped it up with nine points in seven games for Canada and has generally been one of Canada’s most effective forwards. Fellow Canadian Dante Fabbro has just two points in a tournament that saw him deal with a facial injury early on. Mattias Ekholm (Sweden), Roman Josi and Yannick Weber (both Switzerland) have held their own, too.
New Jersey Devils
Cory Schneider will be USA’s go-to netminder the rest of the way, and despite a few weak moments throughout the tournament, he’s played some of the best hockey of the year – which isn’t really saying much. Like Fiala, Nico Hischier has slowed down for Switzerland, knocking out just two points in the past four games. Damon Severson has been a rock on Canada’s otherwise weak defensive group and has five assists to show for. Jesper Bratt has been in and out of Sweden’s lineup, but hasn’t recorded a point in more than a week. Oh, and Jack Hughes is still searching for his first goal.
New York Rangers
The most impressive Ranger is one that hasn’t been drafted yet: Kaapo Kakko has been incredible with six goals and seven points, but had just two points in his past four games. USA’s Chris Kreider (four points), Brady Skjei (one assist) and Adam Fox (one assist) have been rather quiet. Alexandar Georgiev won’t be Russia’s goaltender going forward, but with shutouts in both of his starts, he had a nice tournament, for sure. Speaking of goaltenders, Henrik Lundqvist secured the starting spot in Sweden but in close matchups, he needs to be better. Filip Chytil has just two points to show for in four contests.
Only three of Ottawa’s three participants still remain: leading the way is Canadian Thomas Chabot, who has been impressive offensively with six points and is already showing why he’ll be one of the best Sens’ defenders for a long time. American forward Colin White didn’t miss a beat after a hard headshot from Mantha but has been relatively quiet with just three points. Christian Wolanin has sat out two games as USA’s seventh defenseman.
Philadephia still has an impressive eight players remaining, with Jakub Voracek sitting tied for second in tournament scoring with 12 assists and 15 points. Carter Hart has served as Matt Murray’s backup on Team Canada, but he does have a shutout and the tournament’s best save percentage among goalies with at least three starts with .964. Fellow Canadians Sean Couturier and Phillippe Myers have just four points between them. Oskar Lindblom is the only other player of note with three goals and four points with Sweden.
How about Patric Hornqvist? With six goals and nine points, the best numbers of his international career, you can’t be disappointed with what he’s done, regardless of how Sweden finishes the tournament. But the Czech Republic’s Dominik Simon has been the best Penguin so far with four goals and 11 points to place him seventh in scoring. Canada’s Jared McCann enters Thursday with two goals in the past two games and Murray has the momentum of a shutout taking him into Canada’s battle against Switzerland. Russia’s Evgeni Malkin hasn’t been his usual self despite posting a goal and five points in seven games and will need to step up his game in the elimination round.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Nikita Kucherov? Yeah, he’s still good. The NHL’s top scorer this season has six goals and 15 points to put him behind Nylander for the tournament lead in scoring. As expected, Andrei Vasilevsky has been one of the best goaltenders with a .946 save percentage and two shutouts. Anthony Cirelli has been a pleasant addition to Canada’s group with three goals and four points, but the rest of Tampa Bay’s contingent has been quiet.
Toronto Maple Leafs
It’s hard to forget Nylander’s struggles in Toronto this year, but his 17 points in the round robin – more than any previous tournament effort by Nylander – is good for first in the Slovakian spectacle. The only other remaining Leafs player, Russian defender Nikita Zaitsev, has looked good with four points and will be relied on in the big contest against the United States on Thursday.
Three of Vancouver’s six representatives are from Sweden, with Elias Pettersson leading the charge with nine points in seven games. Loui Eriksson started well with four points in the first three games but has nothing to show for in the past four contests. Quinn Hughes has been USA’s best defenseman, often earning ice time in important situations and tallying three points. Troy Stecher has two points on Canada’s back end.
Vegas Golden Knights
Even though Vegas has just four players at the worlds, the team’s contingent has been the best in the tournament. First off, Russian forward Nikita Gusev is tied for fifth in tournament scoring with three goals and 12 points. On Canada, forwards Mark Stone and Jonathan Marchessault have shown incredible chemistry with nine points each. Canadian defender Shea Theodore has five points himself. Without the Vegas trio, Canada wouldn’t be as much of a threat as they are.
The Capitals have five players remaining, but Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov have just nine points between them. In fact, defenseman Dmitri Orlov has been the star player from the defending Cup champions from Washington with six points from the point. Jakub Vrana and Dmitrji Jaskin have nine points between them on the wing for the Czech Republic.
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