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CanucksArmy World Junior Recap: Day 1

Starting today, CanucksArmy will provide full recaps of each day’s worth of action at the World Junior Hockey Championships.

As is tradition, the tournament began this Boxing Day morning with the Czech Republic facing off against Russia and ended with the United States making minced meat of Denmark. In total, there were four games (I watched five, shoutout to the Spengler Cup) and almost all of them involved Canucks prospects!

Let’s get into the action.

Czech Republic 5 – 4 Russia

Most considered the Russians as the favourites in this game, but the Czechs gave them all they could handle. In fact, they had firm control of this game from puck drop. Carolina Hurricanes first-round draft pick Martin Necas scored the opening goal in the first few minutes of the game, and though the Russians tied the game shortly thereafter, Edmonton Oilers fourth-round pick Ostap Safin regained the Czech just as quickly.

It was the middle frame though where the Czechs really pulled away in this one. A pair of Filipsย led the charge, as first 2018 NHL Entry Draft eligible forward Filip Zadina then New York Rangers first-round pick Filip Chytil lit the lamp consecutively. Another Filip, this time Filip Kral, scored for the Czechs in the third period to give them a commanding 5-2 lead.

Russia charged back in the third period, and in the final five minutes, they cut the Czech lead by two. Philadelphia Flyers first-round pick German Rubtsov assisted on a pair of goals that made the game interesting but ultimately proved to be too little too late.

Notes

Filip Chytil (2017 NYR 1st)

If you read the CanucksArmy Prospect Profiles series ahead of last year’s draft, you’d have known that we were fairly high on Chytil. I’m not sure many of us envisioned him actually getting drafted in the first round, much less getting a cup of coffee in the NHL this year. Chytil eventually settled with the Ranger AHL affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack, where he’s close to a point per game, which is unreal production for an 18-year-old.

Chytil was the best player of the game. The goal he scored was fine (especially in light of the injury, most likely a broken nose, suffered before it), but it paled in comparison skill-wise to some of the plays he made that didn’t find the back of the net.

I was surprised by how effective Chytil was along the boards, especially on this play. Unreal control and poise with the puck. There was a lot to like.

Martin Necas (2017 CAR 1st)

I wasn’t as high on Necas as a lot in the field were going into last year’s draft, but that isn’t an indictment of his skill level or talent. Everything is relative, too. I still had Necas ranked ninth. And like Chytil, Necas played an NHL game this season.

If Chytil was the best player of the game, Necas wasn’t far behind. He scored the first goal of the game — nay, the tournament. The way Necas was changing up speeds in transition caught my eye, and I think it caught the Russian defenders off guard too, as their gap on Necas was always just a little off. It’s the difference between having speed and knowing how to use it effectively.

Physically, Necas appears to be developing in the right direction. Last year, Necas was wiry and spry, but still a combative little runt. This year, he’s got the bulk to back up the smack-talk, should he go that route. Given he was a 12th overall pick, that’s a nice development, but his play with the puck and on the cycle are what’s most encouraging to the Hurricanes and their fans.

Filip Zadina (2018 NHL Entry Draft Eligible)

When we last checked in on the 2018 NHL Entry Draft with Jeremy Davis’ Winter Rankings, the Czech import ranked third. Given his production, 46 points (24 goals and 22 assists) in his first 32 games with the Halifax Mooseheads in the QMJHL, it’s not hard to see why that’s the case.

Zadina had a goal tonight and was generally good with the puck. For an 18-year-old in a 19-year-old’s tournament, Zadina was noticeable. Zadina had three shots on goal and played on the Czech top line and power play.

Martin Kaut

I wasn’t expecting Martin Kaut to catch my eye in today’s game, but then he did. Kaut’s in his second year of draft eligibility, having been passed over entirely in last year’s draft. He’s still only 18-years-old, and this is his second season in the Czech Extraliiga playing against men, and he has six points to boot!

Kaut didn’t look even remotely out of place on the Czech first line, which is quite the endorsement given the talent therein. Kaut led both teams in points with three assists, all of them primary. I’ll be curious to see if he keeps this up throughout the tournament.

Ostap Safin (2017 EDM 4th)

I’ve always been… curious about Ostap Safin. I had him ranked 65th in last year’s draft, but CanucksArmy collectively had him ranked 80th. In the end, the Edmonton Oilers took him in the fourth-round, which is about where most expected him to fall.

Safin has size, and he really used to it dominate the front of the Russian net today. He had two points, one goal and one assist, and scored both of them at even strength. Overall, it was just a good game for Safin.

Klim Kostin (2017 STL 1st)

I was able to watch more Klim Kostin than most last season because of my time tracking with HockeyData Inc., but even that isn’t saying much given how much time he missed with injury. Really, I didn’t see that much of Kostin relative to other players.

Even so, I knew there was something there, and whenever I spoke to a scout or someone in the know, they would confirm as much without a shadow of a doubt. The kid has talent, and size and speed, and everything else you could want in a forward.

Unfortunately, nobody on the Russian side impressed me that much, and that includes Kostin. There was one flash of skill in today’s game, but mostly, Kostin was quiet.

Andrei Svechnikov (2018 NHL Entry Draft Eligible)

In Davis’ most recent draft rankings, Svechnikov was one spot ahead of the aforementioned Zadina, as the second-ranked 2018 NHL Entry Draft eligible skater. I was so looking forward to watching him play a big role for Russia, but if today’s game is any indication, that might not happen.

Svechnikov didn’t play a lot, as Team Russia head coach Valeri Bragin leans heavily on 19-year-olds in this tournament, so it’s hard to judge him. He had one chance in the second period but otherwise was quiet. Finished with just one shot.

Dmitry Sokolov (2016 MIN 7th)

I’ve long been a fan of Dmitry Sokolov’s game, going back to his draft year. If memory serves, I had Sokolov in the second or third-round. The Minnesota Wild got him in the seventh, and he’s been trending upwards ever since. Last year he scored 48 goals for the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL.

Sokolov wasn’t overly noticeable today, but he led both teams with four shots. That’s how Sokolov plays, mostly. He can go unnoticed for long stretches, but always finds a way to use his hockey sense and size (not that tall, but stocky) to put himself into good scoring positions.

Sweden 6 – 1 Belarus

I’ll spare you a recap of this game, as I have to be honest, I only watched in parts due to TSN not saving one of their five channels for coverage of the game (something I complained about in Cheers & Jeers). In this instance, luckily, I think the score tells the whole story.

If you want a recap, follow this link.

Notes

Elias Pettersson (2017 VAN 1st)

If you’re reading this blog, I’ll go ahead and assume you’re all too familiar with Elias Pettersson and his story. You should be, even if you’re just a casual fan of the Canucks. If for whatever reason you are not aware of Pettersson, go ahead and put that into the search bar and save yourself an afternoon for some worthwhile literature on the next Canucks’ superstar.

From what I saw, Pettersson was fantastic for Sweden today. He had the first goal of any Canucks prospect in the tournament, scoring almost halfway into the opening frame on a rocket of a shot from the high-slot that bounced off the Belarussian goaltender and into the top corner. Pettersson added an assist and sent three shots on goal.

I couldn’t help but notice Pettersson setting up high in the slot, on the right side, and envision a Canucks power play with him on one side and Brock Boeser on the other just terrorizing opposition netminders. As CanucksArmy’s Ryan Biech noted in his excellent Sportsnet broadcast debut, Pettersson looked like a pure playmaker going into this year, but the way he’s shooting the puck, it’s clear he has a well-rounded toolkit.

Rasmus Dahlin (2018 NHL Entry Draft Eligible)

Even casual draft devotees should be fully aware of Rasmus Dahlin at this stage in the game. The 2018 NHL Entry Draft eligible Swedish defenceman, expected to go first overall, has been lighting the SHL on fire since the age of 16. And he was playing for Team Sweden in last year’s tournament, again at 16-years-old, too.

Dahlin was effective in transition and a key cog in the Swedish power play, manning the point on their first unit quite effectively. Defensively, the Swedes as a unit were sound, and Dahlin played a significant role in that with the minutes he skated.

By the final horn, Dahlin had two assists, one on Pettersson’s goal, and another on an excellent feed through traffic to New Jersey Devils second-round pick Jesper Boqvist. Dahlin also had a shot on goal of his own. Dahlin came as advertised.

Canada 4 – 2ย  Finland

I had high hopes for this game as far as entertainment value goes. Other than parts of the third period, it was a real letdown in that sense. It was choppy, undisciplined hockey, by both teams. Luckily, this was a preliminary match and not a game with some level of import. That would make this a real downer.

Most of the scoring came in the opening frame, as Tampa Bay Lightning second-round pick Boris Katchouk sent home a contentious goal on a breakaway to open the floodgates just five-plus minutes into the game. Canada got goals from Anaheim Ducks first-rounder Sam Steel and Ottawa Senators fourth-rounder Drake Batherson, and the Finns matched with an Aleksi Heponiemi goal, leaving Canada in firm command of this game going into the middle frame with a 3-1 lead over the Finns.

The second period was scoreless, but Chicago Blackhawks first-round pick Henri Jokiharju closed the lead to one in the third period only to have Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Taylor Raddysh score the insurance goal in the final handful of minutes in the game.

Notes

Jonah Gadjovich (2017 VAN 2nd)

It’s clear what role the Canadian coaching staff has laid out for Jonah Gadjovich. They want him playing in their bottom six, as a checking forward, and someone that they can rely upon to kill penalties.

If today’s game is any indication, Gadjovich is up to the task. Defensively, his line was solid from start to finish at limiting the Finnish forwards at even strength. Unfortunately for Gadjovich, though, he played a significant role in the Canadians surrendering a goal on the penalty kill in the third period, as a Jokiharju slap shot bounced off of his shinpad and past Carter Hart.

Luckily, Gadjovich had banked some goodwill in the first, as he had the primary assist on Batherson’s goal. As the trailer, Gadjovich picked the pick up the puck after the Finnish defender broke up a Montreal Canadiens prospect Victor Mete’s stick, and sent a crisp pass tape-to-tape to set Batherson up with an empty-net.

Gadjovich still has a lot of room to grow as a skater. His top gear isn’t there yet. Overall though Gadjovich is an intensely competitive winger who played well in his zone today, and that’s about all Team Canada could ask for from the 18-year-old.

Boris Katchouk (2016 TBL 2nd)

Katchouk is your prototypical, bull in a china shop style power forward. He isn’t physically overwhelming, but Katchouk has speed and hands, and can be hard to take off the puck. He’s my kind of player, basically.

That contentious goal I mentioned in my short recap of Canada’s game? Yeah, that was his, and it probably shouldn’t have counted if we’re being honest. But it did, and Katchouk deserves credit for stealing the puck and then using his speed and hands to put it in the back of the net.

I’d say Katchouk was Canada’s best forward in today’s game, and if he can add some bulk to his 6-foot-3 frame, he’ll be a threat for the Tampa Bay Lightning in the NHL in the not-so-distant future. Because they definitely need the help offensively, right?

Victor Mete (2016 MTL 4th)

I liked Mete in his draft year, and had him rated closer to the second or third-round of that draft than the fourth, which is where he eventually went to the Habs. Still, I was skeptical of his game and its ability to translate to the NHL. Certainly, I didn’t expect him playing for the Habs in year two. Here we are, and he has close to 30 games under his belt and he’s playing aย huge role on Team Canada’s blue line.

Mete’s speed is undeniable, and it makes him an amazing puck carrier in transition. That much was clear on the Canadians third goal of the game, as he did much of the legwork to create that goal for Batherson.

Mete led Team Canada’s blue line in zone exits according to CanucksArmy’s Darryl Keeping, which aligns well with what I observed in today’s game, and was awarded Player of the Game honours for Team Canada. And they were well earned.

Olli Juolevi (2016 VAN 1st)

I mentioned in my write-up upon receiving the news that Olli Juolevi would play for Team Finland at this year’s World Juniors (shocker, right?) that he’s had the best of times there and the worst of times. As a 17-year-old, he had nine points in seven games, which is phenomenal, best especially so given his age; as an 18-year-old, Juolevi captained a team that was embarrassed and fired their coach mid-tournament.

This year, Juolevi is playing in the middle of their defensive depth chart alongside Henri Jokiharju. The two share a similar skill set, and are really strong in transition, so I was excited to see what they could do at five-on-five.

Unsurprisingly, Juolevi, and his partner, were exceptional at retrieving pucks and sending them up ice before the Canadians could mount a forecheck. In the first two periods especially they looked good. There was one play in particular that showcased Juolevi’s skills nicely. Juolevi reads a Canadian attack, lunges forward to intercept the pass, keys a rush in the opposite direction, and makes himself available for the pass, which he turned into a shot on goal upon receipt.

Things got messy for Juolevi in the third, admittedly, but overall it was a strong game.

Kristian Vesalainen (2017 WPG 1st)

I’ve never been huge on Vesalainen’s game, and I thought his draft stock was a bit higher than it should have been last year due to a breakout at the Under-18 tournament. This year, Vesalainen’s taken huge strides in the Finnish Liiga after the Winnipeg Jets took him in the first round and looks to be a player.

In today’s game, Vesalainen was great for Finland. He looked like the power forward most projected him to be at the start of his draft year, using his body to get positioning and take the puck to net from the corner on one play. In total, Vesalainen had two shots on goal and was a minus-one.

Eeli Tolvanen (2017 NSH 1st)

I’m not sure why, but it seems like every time I watch Eeli Tolvanen play, I leave disappointed. Disappointment is a relative term, built on my expectations, so take that comment in context, but it’s still not a ringing endorsement. I’ve also seen very little of his play in the KHL this season, where he’s lighting the league on fire with Jokerit Helsinki, too.

Today was another one of those occasions where I wanted to see more. I know the skill is there. Tolvanen is a great skater, and he has an amazing shot that he gets on net frequently. Today just wasn’t his day though. I didn’t find him especially threatening at any point in the game.

Again, though, disappointment is relative. Tolvanen still had an assist on Jokiharju’s power play goal and sent five shots on goal. It’s a testament to his skill that this type of game left me wanting.

The USAย 9 – 0 Denmark

I knew this game wasn’t going to be especially competitive, but it wasn’t even close for any period of time. It’s hard to really reflect on what happened and draw too many conclusions as a result.

Anaheim Ducks first-round pick Max Jones scored barely two minutes into the game, and then the United States came in waves after him, leading to five unanswered goals in the first frame. Buffalo Sabres first-rounder Casey Mittlestadt scored a pair of goals, and was electric with the puck, too.

The final score read 9-0 for the United States, and all I could think about was that The Simpsons .gif with the kid pointing and the words “stop, stop… he’s already dead!”. It was that type of game.

William Lockwood (2016 VAN 3rd)

It’s clear the United States envisions a similar role for William Lockwood as the Canadians do for his fellow Canuck Jonah Gadjovich. Lockwood is there to provide energy in a bottom of the lineup role and kill penalties. And he was damn good at it today.

Lockwood doesn’t show up on the scoresheet, but he was ruthless on the forecheck and creating problems for the Danish defence with his speed and reckless abandon with the body. Unfortunately, Lockwood was penalized on one occasion, as he launched a questionable hit on a Danish defender in the second period. He’ll have to learn when to cool it down a bit, clearly.

This was a good start to the tournament for Lockwood, who’s returning from an injury suffered in a pre-competition warmup contest.

  • Sandpaper

    The Lockwood hit appears to be a more violent and dangerous head shot than the hot that William Nylander took in this tournament a couple years ago.
    The player who hit Nylander was suspended for the remainder of tournament and that should be the same consequence for this hit.

  • wjohn1925

    Thanks for the write-up J.D. I watched the Sweden game on the computer (thanks TSN – it’s not like you don’t have other options) and was impressed with Pettersson. He reminded me a lot of Hendrick with the beautiful soft passes, and he’s got a shot and some wheels. Juolevi looked solid, if unspectacular, but he seems to be moving a bit better now than he did during training camp. Looking forward to further write-ups during the tournament.

  • wojohowitz

    You`re being a little too kind to Juolevi. His game has regressed from captain and leader to middle six support staff. Maybe talking to Mete will send him a wake up call that where his game is now and where it should be are miles apart. Otherwise we will be asking this question a year from now; The Canucks need a third line center – who shall they trade; Hutton or Juolevi?

    • Wise Canuck

      It’s obvious to all not wearing Canucks a tutu and shaking pompoms that Juolevi is another massive Benning bust, even Salo says he is nowhere near NHL ready.

      Sergachev would already be top 2 D playing alongside Edler or Tanev on the nicks, racking up points and QBing the PP with a shot Hedman says is already the best on the Lightning!

      Sergy was up for grabs but the draft guru passed for a player who doesn’t produce, doesn’t QB the PP and is going backwards as Team Finland are showing us with his demotion…. unbelievable.

      • krutov

        so you think we should have taken sergachev over tkachuk, keller and mcavoy?

        “unbelievable” is someone dumb enough to expect that the top 15 draft picks in a given year should track in a linear fashion not only as to final outcome but also over time during the period the players are developing.

        the fact a linear outcome has never ever happened in the history of the draft, and no nhl team “braintrust” has ever consistently outperformed the draft, might be a clue that picking which 18 year old will be the best is not quite as easy as expressing pompous outrage on the interwebs.

        • Wise Canuck

          No rubberneck, I would take ANY of those studs over Juolevi.

          An elite young defenceman with offensive upside was targetted by the clown Benning… he chose Juolevi over Sergachev (also Chucyrun and McAvoy) BUST – end of story. Regards, Sami Salo.

          Rasmus Dahln please picked by a new GM.

          • LTFan

            Oh Wise one. To show us all how good you are at drafting 18 year olds – put in a list before the 2018 Draft of your top 31 players. Then all on this site can see how good you are after the draft is done. We can also see how your picks do in the years following the 2018 Draft, how many games they play etc. We will all be looking forward to your selections. I have marked my calendar for June 15, 2018 to remind you of your list if you haven’t submitted it by that time – if you are still on this site under the name Wise Canuck.

          • Wise Canuck

            Oh look, it’s the sad no lifer who posted on Christmas DAY and Boxing DAY ffs… speaking of hindsight, YOU are clearly the undisputed champion of that foot-in-mouth Dud………….

            ” The Canucks need players that can contribute out of the gate, particularly on D. I would take Liljegren or Heiskanen. Hopefully itโ€™s a player that is close to NHL ready come September” – Bud Poile

            “Last year Marner, Tkachuk, Provorov, Matthews, Nylander, Laine,etc. jumped straight from the draft table into making an impact at the highest level”. – Bud Poile

            ‘Hutton/Gudbranson *feels* like an amazing pairing”. – Bud Poile

            ”Juolevi, Gaudette, Brisebois,Rodin,McEneny,Demko and Subban will all push for jobs this season and Green has the mandate to integrate them”. – Bud Poile

            “and whatever high end player they pick up this draft โ€“ either Tkachuk or my preference Nylander”. – Bud Poile

            ”Over working veterans and risking injuries has now passed with Willie D moving on.” – Bud Poile

            Dud.. the gift (troll) who just keeps on giving… what a JOKE you are little lonely old man. Will you be posting on New Years Eve as well? lol

    • DJ_44

      If you are getting a third line center for Hutton (assuming you refer to NHL center) then take it.

      As for the Canucks needing a third line center, are you suggesting they for this year? They have Petterson, Bo, Gaudette, Sutter going forward. Their center depth is starting to look very, very good, albeit the season after next is when they will really start to shine.

  • 51Geezer

    It’s encouraging that you were impressed with Elias Pettersson, JD. Have you seen an update on his physical stats? I see only TSN’s stat of 165 lb., a number we all hope will get a lot bigger…

  • Puck Viking

    I was hoping we would take Ty Ronning and Sokolov with our two 7th rounders that year.. The Abols pick was a waste and Mckenzie at least wasnt a total disaster but with the way the game is changing the 4th line will now be a checking line that still has to be able to score and you are going to want to have 3 scoring lines. Ronning and Sokolov still at least have NHL potential.

  • defenceman factory

    Great write-up JD. Interested to see more of Joulevi. He looked adequate but I was hoping for more. Not sure his skating has improved much. What I did like is his point shots hit the net. He had 5 shots.

    Canada benefitted from some favourable calls from the refs. They will need to be better.

  • I tried to keep an eye on Juolevi. He wasn’t on the ice for any of the four goals against, so that’s a good sign. He plays an understated game and you hardly notice him. Quiet, and I hope confident, he can work his way to the NHL.
    Not wearing the C may be a good thing for him, as it takes some of the pressure off. This is his third World Junior and he’s a senior. It’s time to shine.

    • canuckfan

      Play by play for the Finland game was horrible hard to tell who was on the ice for Finland like the commentator was scared to say any of the Finish players names.