Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is "Captain Canada" for this year’s World Junior Championships. Edmonton’s list of prospects at this year’s WJs is shy of previous seasons, but those in attendance will pack a wallop.
NAIL YAKUPOV, Russia: Kid dynamite helped kill Canada in Calgary one year ago with a sublime display of skill in the semi-final and looks to do similar damage on home ice this time around. Yakupov has been nothing short of spectacular in his KHL rookie season (22, 10-8-18).
RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS, CANADA: RNH is the captain of Canada and gets a chance to compete in the tournament that helped make Ebs and Taylor Hall legends in junior hockey. Based on his linemates (Huberdeau and Scheifele) I’d say the Nuge is going to be playing big minutes and we should expect big results. After battling big men in the AHL, RNH should find more room on the big ice and against fellow teenagers.
DAVID MUSIL, CZECH: I believe most Oiler fans were impressed by his play at last year’s WJ, and we should expect heavy minutes from the big man again this Christmas. The Czechs are never predictable in terms of the quality of their team, but Musil gives them a big edge defensively and on the PK.
TOBIAS RIEDER, GERMANY: Quality 2-way player will be the leader of the German team (no other German on this year’s WJ team has been drafted by an NHL team) and he should see major minutes in all three disciplines (if healthy). Rieder suffered a foot injury earlier this month but I haven’t read anything about him missing the tournament.
DANIIL ZHARKOV, RUSSIA: Perhaps a surprise that he’s on the roster (this is all via tsn, btw) but he’s a big body and can score goals (although he’s wildly inconsistent). I’m looking forward to seeing him play, as his inconsistency makes it difficult to figure him out as a prospect.
There are more than a few draft eligible kids who will play major roles in this winter’s WJs, and we’ll have a look at them in the next installment.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
The Oilers didn’t send a fleet of prospects to the WJ this time, but there’s star power. A year ago, we had a chance to ‘review the blue’ with Klefbom, Marincin, Gernat and Musil all part of the WJ fun. This time around the Oilers boast two marquee forwards along with Musil and a couple of curio’s. Up next: the draft elgibles and why Oiler fans should be watching the Americans and the Finns.