As increasingly prospects take much less and fewer time to grow to be on a regular basis NHL gamers, utilizing a best-on-best match just like the annual under-20 IIHF World Junior Championship as a measuring stick of future success might be as tough as it’s affordable. Though the numerous majority of latest World Junior standouts had been excessive draft picks who moved on to NHL stardom, there are also notables who supplied nondescript performances.

By Sunday’s NHL video games, 29 of the league’s top-30 scorers performed in at the least one WJC both throughout their draft 12 months or thereafter, with Calgary’s Sean Monahan the lone exception. Sixteen participated as pre-draft 17-year-olds, together with Alex Ovechkin (2004), Sidney Crosby (2005) and Connor McDavid (2015), three generational superstars who used productive draft-year WJCs to assist solidify their reputations as can’t-miss prospects.

MORE: SN’s prime 50 NHL prospects | 2018-19 farm system rankings

Outliers do exist, nonetheless, as present NHL stars like Nathan MacKinnon (2013) and David Pastrnak (2014) had been something however world beaters of their first World Juniors look. MacKinnon, final 12 months’s runner-up for league MVP, recorded just one help in six video games throughout his first and solely WJC. That didn’t cease him from going first total within the ensuing draft, nor did Pastrnak’s three factors in 5 video games on the 2014 match dissuade the Bruins from choosing him within the first spherical.

Since nationwide staff coaches rely closely on expertise throughout brief tournaments, first-year draft eligibles make up solely a small share of WJC individuals no matter how robust an upcoming draft class is assessed.

Final 12 months’s draft crop, thought-about one of many deepest in a number of years, featured 25 prospects who had been chosen to take part on the World Juniors. That quantity was practically halved for 2019, as solely 15 of the over 200 competing gamers had been of their first 12 months of draft eligibility. The quantity of prime 2019 draft prospects inside that group might be decreased to 6 or seven, with Workforce USA’s Jack Hughes, Finland’s Kaapo Kakko and Russian winger Vasily Podkolzin the one gamers anticipated to be prime 10 picks in June. 4 of the primary six picks within the 2018 draft — Rasmus Dahlin, Andrei Svechnikov, Brady Tkachuk and Filip Zadina — had been key contributors of their draft-year world junior championship. 

MORE: What went mistaken for Canada on the 2019 World Juniors?

Kaako’s golden aim in Finland’s title-winning 3-2 win over the U.S. definitely was a historic second. Nevertheless it got here in match the place 2019 draft prospects didn’t dominate largely older competitors whereas leaving us dissecting moments throughout particular person shifts slightly than merely being blown away by their dynamism or level manufacturing.

In different phrases, we had been left wanting extra.

When McDavid graced the WJC stage throughout his draft 12 months, he was the most effective participant within the match. Identical goes for the likes of John Tavares and Phil Kessel. However clearly being the flashiest or essentially the most dominant draft prospect on the World Juniors shouldn’t be a requirement for NHL success, which has been confirmed by the handfuls of prime scorers who both performed as much as expectations or did simply sufficient to get by with out crippling their repute.

As you may see under, even among the NHL’s prime scorers of their draft-year WJC tournaments bounced round from dominant (Tavares, McDavid) to competent (Rantanen, Eichel) to unproductive (MacKinnon).

NHL top-30 scorers (2018-19) at World Juniors

John Tavares 2009 15 factors (6 GP) 2.50
Gabriel Landeskog 2011 2 factors (1 GP) 2.00
Connor McDavid 2015 11 factors (7 GP) 1.57
Matt Tkachuk 2016 11 factors (7 GP) 1.57
Phil Kessel 2006 11 factors (7 GP) 1.57
Sidney Crosby 2005 9 factors (6 GP) 1.50
Patrick Kane 2007 9 factors (7 GP) 1.29
Alex Ovechkin 2004 7 factors (6 GP) 1.17
Nicklas Backstrom 2006 7 factors (6 GP) 1.17
Leon Draisaitl 2014 6 factors (6 GP) 1.00
Jack Hughes 2019 Four factors (Four GP) 1.00
Steven Stamkos 2008 6 factors (7 GP) 0.86
Mikko Rantanen 2015 Four factors (5 GP) 0.80
Jack Eichel 2015 Four factors (5 GP) 0.80
Kaapo Kakko 2019 5 factors (7 GP) 0.71
Elias Lindholm 2013 Four factors (6 GP) 0.67
David Pastrnak 2014 Three factors (5 GP) 0.60
Vasily Podkolzin 2019 Three factors (7 GP) 0.43
Valentin Nussbaumer 2019 Three factors (7 GP) 0.43
Nathan MacKinnon 2013 1 level (6 GP) 0.17

Understanding what we learn about draft-year manufacturing for the NHL’s prime scorers on the World Juniors, let’s check out many of the notable names for the 2019 draft and whether or not or not their reputations took a success on the match.

NHL Draft 2019 risers, fallers

Rising: Jack Hughes, C, United States

An undisclosed upper-body damage price Hughes three video games, but it surely wasn’t sufficient to cease him from displaying his world-class skating and imaginative and prescient. He picked up 4 major assists in 4 matches regardless of ending seventh amongst Workforce USA forwards in ice time, but it surely wasn’t like he stat-padded towards inferior competitors.

Three of Hughes’ helpers both tied the rating or gave the U.S. the lead, and he arrange a aim in all three of his medal-round matches. Though he’d most likely commerce all these factors for a gold medal, his first (and presumably solely) world juniors did nothing to harm his draft inventory. Hughes stays the overwhelming favourite to go first total within the 2019 draft.

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Rising: Vasily Podkolzin, RW, Russia

One of many match’s hardest employees, Podkolzin noticed his function expanded as Russia’s video games turned extra essential. He was an amazing asset in serving to win free puck battles and rapidly transitioning from protection to offense.

Podkolzin is an abrasive, in-your-face winger with physicality and distinctive hockey sense, and all these traits had been on show on the World Juniors. Russian head coach Valeri Bragin likes to maintain his youngest gamers on a brief leash. However he appeared assured in Podkolzin’s skill to impression the sport irrespective of the rating or how a lot time was left on the clock. Needless to say we’re speaking a few child who shoved Bruins prospect Jakub Lauko through the handshake line after a 2-1 win over the Czech Republic.

The depth Podkolzin brings to the ice is unmatched amongst his draft friends. He recorded three assists in seven video games, however stats hardly ever inform the entire story once you’re the youngest participant on a medal winner enjoying practically 14 minutes a sport. If he falls out of the highest 5 of the draft, it’ll have extra to do along with his need to remain in Russia for a couple of extra years than something he did (or didn’t do) on the WJC.  

Rising: Kaapo Kakko, RW, Finland

Scoring a gold medal-clinching aim was the icing on the cake in a formidable match for Kakko, who like Hughes earned extra ice time because the match progressed, going from a low of 13:30 within the preliminary spherical loss to the People to a excessive of 16:23 within the finale.

Though you wouldn’t classify him as a two-way ahead, Kakko was aggressive on the forecheck, lined for overcommitted teammates and was used on the penalty kill with effectiveness. What wasn’t a shock was the way in which he expertly stickhandled out of jams, confirmed quickness in tight areas and threaded the needle with cross-ice passes.

The place Kakko will get drafted, nonetheless, will doubtless rely extra on which staff is doing the drafting slightly than what he did in Vancouver the previous two weeks. He’s a digital lock for the highest three, however overtaking Hughes for the highest spot will take greater than a golden aim in a brief match.

MORE: NHL re-draft, 2012 version: Oilers get a do-over on Nail Yakupov

Rising: Valeri Orekhov, D, Kazakhstan

A slick, two-way minute eater with pace and agility, Orekhov rapidly turned a tough preliminary spherical into dominant play throughout relegation. He was Kazakhstan’s spine each on protection and within the locker room, and his expertise enjoying towards older competitors in Russia’s KHL proved helpful when groups tried to get bodily with him. He’s a 1999-born draft prospect, so he’s been handed in every of the final two drafts. That doubtless received’t occur once more come June since his response time and breakout proclivity are superior for an adolescent.

Falling: Anttoni Honka, D, Finland

One of many 2019 draft’s most poised puck movers, Honka walked a tightrope throughout a couple of of his opening-round matches, and at occasions he buckled beneath strain. This may increasingly have been extra from nerves than precise a degradation in hockey IQ, but it surely ended up costing him in ice time.

Honka performed beneath eight minutes in three of his ultimate 4 matches and didn’t have a single third-period shift within the medal-round wins over Canada and the U.S. — the 2 opponents whose types mirror what Honka doubtless sees within the NHL. He nonetheless stays a center to late first-round expertise and ought to be a major choice for subsequent 12 months’s squad.


Rising: Kirill Slepets, RW, Russia

Like Orekhov, Slepets is a double over-ager who went undrafted within the 2017 and 2018 drafts. He performs for Lokomotiv’s powerhouse program in Yaroslavl, which historically works busily to lock down its children into the group. No stranger to worldwide competitors, Slepets was a pleasure to observe throughout his dominant run in Vancouver, the place he capped off his WJC with a hat trick in Russia’s bronze medal win over Switzerland. Blessed with pace, agility and unimaginable stability, Slepets has developed right into a harmful 200-foot ahead who can run an influence play from the half wall in addition to he can disrupt on the penalty kill.

Newcomers to his profession might imagine he placed on his finest efficiency beneath the WJC’s massive highlight, however the potential for a prolonged NHL profession has been with him since his early teenagers. Slepets ought to be one the primary draft re-entries taken off the board, presumably as early because the second spherical.

Falling: Mads Sogaard, G, Denmark

You hate to knock a 17-year-old goalie within the midst of any form of droop, however this 6-7 netminder had a nightmarish match that left the Danes relegated to the decrease division.

Thought of one of many premier goaltending prospects for the 2019 draft, Sogaard’s robust pre-WJC play with the WHL’s Drugs Hat Tigers had individuals believing he was adequate to assist Denmark keep away from relegation. Issues fell aside from the onset, nonetheless, as he was blitzed for 11 targets in Denmark’s first sport in a 14-Zero drubbing towards Canada. It was no picnic towards equal adversaries both, and he was yanked early within the first interval of Kazakhstan’s relegation-round clincher.

MORE: Greatest draft class for each NHL staff

By bottom-feeder requirements, Sogaard’s 4.31 goals-against common and .838 save share in 4 WJC video games after the Canada loss ought to be thought-about respectable. However he was surprisingly gradual to react to fundamental performs close to the online, and his anticipation and timing from cross-ice passes proved to be problematic.

It’s not like Sogaard will neglect or lose his skill to rapidly cowl loads of internet and execute a robust lateral push that helps separates him from most draft-eligible backstops. We’ll have to simply regulate his second half with Drugs Hat and see if the problems from Vancouver resurface.

Rising: Ilya Morozov, D, Russia

You’ll be able to all the time rely on the Russians to offer informal WJC onlookers with a good variety of gamers to think about for an upcoming draft. Morozov is a multi-tool defenseman with top-four potential who dealt with his essential function with poise and confidence.

Like Slepets, Morozov was not chosen in consecutive drafts, and his full-time place with Sibir Novosibirsk within the KHL makes the chance that he will get picked up in June all of the extra distant. That shouldn’t cease groups from inquiring into his availability or a potential need to play in North America, just because he’s such a succesful two-way defender with dimension, mobility and a cannon of a shot.


Rising: Valentin Nussbaumer, C, Switzerland

A feisty two-way middle, Nussbaumer was a key contributor to Switzerland’s stunning fourth-place end. He performed a top-six function and was continuously across the internet or battling in corners. The very last thing any prospect needs to do in entrance of a bunch of scouts is reveal a low compete degree, so Nussbaumer’s laborious work and integrity made him noticeable when he wasn’t scoring.

That is also the case for his common season play within the QMJHL with Shawinigan, a struggling staff that depends on Nussbaumer to offer offense within the face of powerful matchups. The truth that he was capable of document two targets and an help in seven video games whereas enjoying alongside high quality teammates exhibits the potential for level manufacturing at greater ranges is there. He could not have the kind of resume you’d wish to see in a first-round decide, however the character, work ethic and his sharp hockey sense he displayed for Workforce Switzerland ought to assist him within the second half.

Rising: Philip Broberg, D, Sweden

A late substitute for the injured Tim Liljegren, Broberg was the match’s second-youngest defenseman and completed with one help in 4 video games. Though the Swedes didn’t medal after successful their group, Broberg supplied them with a glimpse into the long run as their potential prime WJC defender in both of the subsequent two years. Blessed with glorious instincts, preferrred dimension and excellent mobility, Broberg held his personal on the underside pairing and stays a powerful candidate for the center of the primary spherical.

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