The World Junior Championship is underway and one thing is for sure, we’re never going to see scoring numbers like we used to. That’s not a complaint, we’ll take better competition any day of the week.
The simple facts are that more 18-year-old kids are NHL-ready right out of junior, NHL teams need their cheaper labor – heck, Tyler Seguin went No. 2 overall and is playing in Boston this season, he didn’t even make Canada’s WJC squad last year – and Europeans are getting to North America faster.
For those reasons we’ll never see guys scoring the way they did in the 1980s and ’90s, showing the WJC mirrors the NHL in that way.
This is THN.com’s Top 10 WJC scorers:
10. Eric Lindros, Canada
For all the gold medals, Lindros is the only Canadian to make the list. In three tournaments from 1990-92 he totaled 12 goals and 31 points in 19 games, including an impressive six goals and 17 points in the 1991 tourney.
9. Esa Keskinen, Finland
One of the more decorated and dynamic European pros through the ’80s and ’90s, Keskinen was an outstanding junior, averaging more than two points per WJC contest. He finished with 10 goals and 32 points in 14 games during the ’84 and ’85 tournaments.
8.Niklas Sundstrom, Sweden
The MoDo product was drafted eighth overall by the Rangers in ’93 after piling up 10 goals and 14 points in seven WJC games. He played in three junior tourneys finishing with 18 goals and 33 points.
7. Vladimir Ruzicka, Czechoslovakia
Ruzicka scored an amazing 25 goals in three tournaments – good for second most all-time – and totaled 34 points. A legend in his country, Ruzicka was drafted by Toronto in ’82 and debuted in the NHL with Edmonton during the ’89-90 season.
6. Markus Naslund, Sweden
Sundstrom’s teammate in MoDo and with Team Sweden was dominant at the world juniors. In 14 games (the reason he gets the nod over Ruzicka) he scored 21 goals and 34 points. In ’93 Naslund scored 13 goals (a record) and 24 points in seven games, the second highest single-tourney points total ever.
5. Esa Tikkanen, Finland
Tikkanen and Keskinen were a feared duo in the early-1980s. In three tournaments Tikkanen scored 17 goals and 35 points before graduating to the Oilers and becoming one of the NHL’s best-ever two-way pests.
4. Alex Mogilny, USSR
Mogilny might have added another point or two to his total if Canada and the USSR had not been thrown out of the tourney during the ’87 final in what came to be known as the ‘Punch Up in Piestany.’ As it was, Mogilny scored 19 goals and 35 points in 20 contests.
3. Pavel Bure, USSR
Bure was another Soviet junior with amazing talent. He scored a WJC record 27 goals in 21 contests and finished with 39 points overall. His ’91 total of 12 goals is second only to Naslund. The next season Bure was in Vancouver and making headlines as the ‘Russian Rocket.’
2. Robert Reichel, Czechoslovakia
Before he was an Olympic hero for his nation, Reichel was a WJC stud. In three tourneys from’88 through ’90 he scored 18 goals and 40 points in 21 games. Reichel began an 11-season NHL career with Calgary the next season.
1. Peter Forsberg, Sweden
Forsberg scored 10 goals and 42 points in just two tournaments in the early ’90s. And in ’93 he set records that will never be touched: most points (31) and assists (24) in a single tourney. The assists mark is 10 more than second place held by Keskinen.
The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.
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