The World Junior Championship is one of the finer events on the hockey calendar and this year should be no different. But if you only tangentially know about the tournament, fear not. Fans of every NHL franchise – including Las Vegas – will have reasons to watch the teen titans vying for gold in Toronto and Montreal. Whether your team has already selected the prospects or could in the upcoming draft, I’m giving every fan base at least one player to watch at the world juniors.
ANA – Jacob Larsson will be a key defenseman for Sweden and Julius Nattinen brings size and scoring back for Finland
ARI – Clayton Keller (USA) and Dylan Strome (CAN) will both be integral parts of their respective teams’ offenses.
BOS – Charlie McAvoy is Team USA’s top defenseman, while Jakub Zboril earns the same distinction for the Czechs.
BUF – Alexander Nylander and Rasmus Asplund could turn out to be a potent duo up front for Sweden again.
CGY – Tyler Parsons has shown brilliance in net for the U.S. and Oliver Kylington brings AHL experience to the Swedish blueline.
CAR – Julien Gauthier brings goal-scoring up front and Jake Bean creates offense from the back for Canada.
CHI – Radovan Bondra is a tower for Slovakia and brings experience.
COL – Tyson Jost's smart and powerful game will be important for Canada up front.
CBJ – Pierre-Luc Dubois gets a chance to shine for Canada, while Gabriel Carlsson will be integral to Sweden’s defense corps.
DAL – Denis Gurianov brings excellent skills to Russia and Joe Cecconi provides shutdown ‘D’ for the U.S.
DET – Filip Hronek brings offense to the Czech blueline and Joren Van Pottelberghe will guard the pipes for Switzerland.
EDM – Caleb Jones brings skill and feistiness to the U.S. blueline, while Finland will need Aapeli Rasanen’s two-way game to get back on the podium.
FLA – Henrik Borgstrom has been a monster producer for NCAA Denver and he’ll do the same for Finland.
LA – Kale Clague’s two-way game will help Canada’s blueline.
LV – Either Finland’s Eeli Tolvanen or Switzerland’s Nico Hischier could be Vegas’ first pick ever in the draft.
MIN – Kirill Kaprizov has been a points machine in Russia and Joel Eriksson Ek may end up tournament MVP if Sweden goes all the way.
MTL – Mikhail Sergachev brings his elite game to the Russian defense corps and physical Noah Juulsen gets a shot at gold on Canada’s blueline.
NSH – Dante Fabbro’s two-way game will help Canada and Patrick Harper’s quickness and skill can put points on the board for Team USA.
NJ – Mikey McLeod gives Canada speed and tenacity, while big Yegor Rykov suits up for Russia.
NYI – Matt Barzal will be an elite playmaker for Canada and Kieffer Bellows provides snipes and physicality to Team USA.
NYR – Slovakia will need Adam Huska’s heroics in net, while Sergey Zborovskiy brings offense from the blueline to Russia.
OTT – Colin White will be a key two-way contributor up front for Team USA, while Filip Ahl brings size to Sweden's forward corps.
PHI – Carter Hart and Felix Sandstrom will be two of the top netminders in the tourney, for Canada and Sweden respectively.
PIT – Kasper Bjorkqvist will bring his college experience to Finland and Filip Gustavsson gives Sweden a great option in net
SJ – Karlis Cukste and Rudolfs Balcers will be key to keeping Latvia from relegation
STL – Tage Thompson is a tower of power for Team USA and Adam Musil will bring his size to the Czechs.
TB – A ton, including leader Mitchell Stephens and gritty Mathieu Joseph as part of five future Bolts on Canada.
TOR – Carl Grundstrom has really found his offense for Sweden lately and Jeremy Bracco can do the same for the U.S.
VAN – Olli Juolevi will be a cornerstone defenseman for Finland and Lukas Jasek will help the Czechs up front.
WSH – Ilya Samsonov may be the best goalie in the tourney and Jonas Siegenthaler's size bolsters the Swiss back end.
WPG – Erik Foley is talented and energetic with Team USA and Michael Spacek can produce for the Czechs.