The World Hockey Championship is finally here, and with it comes great opportunities for NHL prospects.
Here's a look at NHL-affiliated prospects to watch in Finland:
Thomas Bordeleau, C, San Jose Sharks | Team USA
Initially signing an amateur tryout contract with the San Jose Barracuda after his NCAA season ended, Bordeleau was so impressive that the San Jose Sharks signed him to his entry-level deal. He was able to get into eight games with the Sharks, collecting five assists in the short stint with the club.
Bordeleau has worn the Team USA jersey many times going back to his NTDP days, but this will be the first time he will have the chance to wear the jersey at the senior level. The former Michigan Wolverine is a precision passer who thrives on finding lanes in transition and pressuring defenders with his quickness. Bordeleau has a chance to be a real difference-maker on an American team that is lacking in the firepower department.
Kent Johnson and Cole Sillinger, F, Columbus Blue Jackets | Team Canada
The Blue Jackets’ dynamic duo of the future could very well play together at this tournament and build their chemistry heading into next season. If they don’t play together though, they will bring some intriguing offensive talent to the Canadian roster. Sillinger played a full season in the NHL this year as an 18-year-old and rarely looked out of place. Johnson joined the Jackets after the University of Michigan’s season came to an end and flashed some of the brilliant puck skills he possesses.
Sillinger’s ability to bring a touch of physicality along with an impressive goal-scoring touch and underrated playmaking ability could make him one of Canada’s most dangerous forwards. The maturity in his game was beyond what anyone expected. He was just scratching the surface in the NHL this year, could the worlds be a jumping-off point for a big summer? Let’s hope so.
The video game-esque playstyle of Kent Johnson is a sight to behold when he’s on his game. His silky-smooth passing in combination with his creativity makes for one of the more entertaining players in hockey. The World Championship could be a great spot for him to show up in a big way against older competition as he prepares for his first full season as a pro this off-season.
Luke Hughes, D, New Jersey Devils | Team USA
Hughes will provide some high-end skill from the back end. The smooth-skating blueliner was named a Hobey Baker finalist as a freshman with the University of Michigan thanks to a monster first season in NCAA hockey.
Hughes has a boatload of potential which is why the New Jersey Devils were so elated to pick the youngest brother of their star center Jack Hughes in last year's draft. He brings a dynamic offensive mindset to the game. If he has the opportunity to use his skating and offensive prowess, it could very well have the Devils salivating even more as they wait for their star defensive prospect to get into their lineup, possibly as soon as late next season.
Elmer Söderblom, F, Detroit Red Wings | Team Sweden
The 6-foot-8 winger was drafted in the sixth round of the 2019 NHL draft and has done nothing but improve his game. Playing in the SHL against men in Sweden, Söderblom was able to really assert himself as a quality offensive player racking up 21 goals and 33 points in 52 games, finishing tops among all U-22 players in the league in both categories.
With his incredible size and spectacularly soft hands, Söderblom has seemingly always found a way to make a mark on international tournaments while representing Sweden. Whether it is his ability to score between the legs - which he did twice at a single World Junior Championship - or going end to end and using his length, reach, and size to attack the net, Söderblom has been a lot of fun to watch. With a big performance at the worlds, he may well find himself pushing for a job in the AHL next year and on track to make Detroit’s roster in good time.
Sean Farrell, F, and Jordan Harris, D, Montreal Canadiens | Team USA
Farrell and Harris both played college hockey for the vast majority of the season with the latter signing his entry-level contract and playing a handful of games with the Canadiens towards the end of the year. Farrell also had the chance to play with the Americans at the Olympics this past February, notching three goals and three assists in just four games. With both players having some experience against men, they could very well provide the U.S. squad with some quality minutes.
Harris may not look like a typical defensive defenseman but his maturity and mindset make him exactly that. With his understanding of rush patterns and intelligent timing, Harris is able to break up plays before they even have a chance to become dangerous. The Canadiens rookie gets the puck off his opponent's stick, collects the loose puck, and makes a good first pass. In a word, Harris provides reliability to whatever team he plays for.
Farrell is the kind of player who can take you out of your seat with his skill and passing ability. If there’s a tight passing lane, Farrell has the confidence and ability to thread the needle. His vision on the ice, particularly in the offensive zone, may possibly be unmatched amongst the U.S. forward group. Farrell has a real shot at being one of the team's most dangerous players offensively. With at least one more year at Harvard, the Canadiens will likely have to wait until the end of next season to see their silky playmaker at the NHL level.
Janis Jérôme Moser, D, Arizona Coyotes | Team Switzerland
Drafted just after his 21st birthday in his third year of eligibility, JJ Moser is an intriguing defender who broke into the NHL this year with the Coyotes. His arrival was earlier than expected, even with being drafted as an overage prospect, but he more than held his own for a Yotes team that was downright awful at times. Moser plays a solid two-way game from the back end thanks in part to his strong IQ.
The 21-year-old will be playing in his third World Championship and that experience will help him as he takes on a bigger role with the Swiss this time around. Moser can have some lapses defensively but he finds a way to win the puck back using his good stick and play reading ability. His real strength comes in starting the transition game off from his own end. Feathering passes to forwards in motion through the neutral zone, Moser is quite strong at getting the puck up ice. He doesn’t have the most dynamic skill set but should be successful as a puck distributor if asked to play on the powerplay. Moser is the kind of player that has a lot of good traits but lacks a great element to his game.