Janner’s World Junior Championship Preview

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

There’s no massive headlines for this year’s tournament and I’m really curious to see if fans in Vancouver and Victoria will care, but here’s my breakdown of both groups at the World Junior Championship.

WJC banner

Group A:

Canada

Aside from Maxime Comtois, the Canadians will need some big performances to not get embarrassed on home soil. Cody Glass could be a real difference maker this tournament and Alexis Lafreniére was on the verge of being cut, but he may just be one of the most skilled players we will see. On the backend, Ty Smith is a puck moving machine and having a great start to the season in Spokane. The biggest question mark is clearly the goaltending. Three goals on ten shots against Switzerland (pre tourney) is a brutal look for DiPietro and the highly touted Ian Scottt really hasn’t looked stellar until this season.

Czech Rep

The CZ will have deadly fire power upfront. Zadina, Chytil, Necas and Kaut will lead the way. One thing is forsure about this team, don’t give them a powerplay. The defence doesn’t come off as stellar on paper, but between the pipes they have depth. Skarek has been a stud in the Liiga and Patera has been good for the BWK.

Denmark

December 29 is the only day that matters to the Danes. Beat the Swiss and try avoid relegation.

Russia

So hard to predict… they have speed and skill as always, but can Kostin and Alexeyev keep up with the tournament’s elite? One thing that stands out to me is none of their tendy’s currently play in the KHL. There’s nothing wrong with the VHL, but it’s a heck of a step down.

Switzerland

Always good for an upset or atleast an interesting game. We’ve talked about Nando Eggenberger before and I think he could be in for a good tournament.

Group B:

USA

Can they keep the puck out of their net… if Cayden Primeau (half Canadian) is good, the Americans are champions. This team has so many weapons like the Hughes bros, Norris (half Canadian), Poehling, Farabee, Wahlstrom, Drury and Madden (half Canadian). They’re going to be able to score, but can they slow down the speed of their opponents…

Finland

The Fins could be good, but Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is not an elite starting goalie at this level. Nice to have Jokiharju and Tolvanen on the roster, but it’s a big load for them to carry.

Sweden

Another deep line up, but they don’t have the top end talent to win against the best teams here. Aside from goaltending, I think they’re building for next year’s tournament. I’m excited to see what Adam Boqvist can do though.

Slovakia

Returning nine players won’t help. If the Slovaks upset anyone it will come off the tape of Adam Liska. He’s small, not a pure goal scorer, but is playing in the KHL this season which is something no one else on his team is doing. They’ll need a Dennis Godla 2.0 to get out of the quarters.

Kazakhstan

They’re perfect in pre tournament play… don’t let the Kazaks get hot… haha I don’t even know if they’ll give Slovakia a game, but defenceman Valeri Orekhov plays in the KHL so maybe he can spearhead the upset.

I highlighted games I think will be worth watching.

My prediction…

Gold-USA

Silver-Canada

Bronze-Czech

Relegated…

Kazakhstan

Follow me on Twitter @Janner31_

Photo credit/Nathan Denette

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