Vasili Podkolzin and Nils Hoglander Shine in Day 1 of the World Junior Championships

Vasili Podkolzin

In the Russian winger’s second go-round at the WJC, Podkolzin has been trusted with a pivotal role in Russia’s forward group. Not only is he wearing an ‘A’ while playing in the top-six, but he is also logging big minutes on Russia’s first-unit power-play mixed in with penalty-killing duties.

Vancouver’s most recent first-round pick was noticeable from the start. He was active in his own end getting his stick in shooting lanes and disrupting possession. He looked dangerous on the rush alongside Ivan Morozov and Kirill Marchenko and his ability to find his linemates in open space with his passing was impressive. He scored a power-play goal in the slot, swatting at a bouncing puck which tied the game at two. He was then tasked with killing a 5-on-3 penalty which was short-lived. He lost the defensive zone faceoff and the proceeding point shot found its way into the back of the net just seconds later. However, he would be given a second chance to kill an extended 5-on-3 and he made multiple good defensive reads to redirect shots away from the net as well as clogging passing lanes through the middle. While the Russians were upset by the Czechs, Podkolzin was one of the bright spots for Russia today.

Nils Hoglander

Hoglander was named player of the game for Sweden yesterday. Their win continues an incredible unbeaten streak in the group stage that now spans 49 straight wins.

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Playing on the top line, Hoglander and Samuel Fagemo’s chemistry was apparent, combining for the tying goal that sent the game into overtime.

His world-class hands were also on full display early in the game as he gave fellow Canucks prospect Toni Utunen a through-the/legs drag move to create some separation.

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Oh yeah, you also may have seen the goal he scored. He did it again and I can’t believe it.

He wasn’t perfect. There was one bad turnover in the neutral zone that sticks out in my head but overall, Hoglander was as silky smooth with the puck and was constantly looking to make a play even if one didn’t always materialize. What I really liked about his game, apart from the points he put up and the skill he flashed, was his strength down-low to battle for body position and stay on his feet with the puck.

Toni Utunen

Truthfully, I didn’t notice Utunen much today. He was paired with Leafs prospect Mikko Kokkonen on Finland’s third pairing and I thought he defended well down low on the penalty kill. He was on the ice for Alexander Holtz’s game-winning goal where he was caught in-between a drop pass.

Karel Plasek

Karel Plasek did not suit up for the Czechs today but with Bruins prospect Jakub Lauko going down with an injury early in the game, a vacancy has opened up and Plasek could see some action soon.

Jan Mysak

As a bonus, here is the goal scored by 2020 NHL Draft eligible Jan Mysak of the Czech Republic. He’s currently ranked in the mid-first round which is about where I’d expect the Canucks to be drafting in June. He is as smart as they come with his off-puck decision making and has a great shot. He also has that high work rate that management requires.

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