Darnell Nurse will be front and center for Edmonton Oilers fans at this year’s World Junior Championships. He’s one of (at least) three Oilers prospects who will be on display at this year’s Christmas party.
I promised you (at least) three Oilers prospects but there are only two in-house at this time.
- Darnell Nurse, D, Canada: Left off last year’s team, the big defender with a mean streak will be a top option for favored Team Canada at the tournament. Nurse will get heavy minutes in all three disciplines and could end up going home with the Gold Medal.
- William Lagesson, D, Sweden: This is a bit of a surprise, as Lagesson was a fourth-round pick in the most recent draft and the Swedes traditionally have too much talent on blue for a player with a lack of pedigree. That said, Lagesson is a tough, physical defender who should play a lot during the tournament. He has an unusual skating style but should be an Oilers’ fan favorite in the future.
Edmonton could/should have sent Leon Draisaitl but he remains back in Edmonton (for now). Rumblings from Matty at the EJ suggest he’ll be playing hockey interior BC at some point early in the new year, we’ll have to wait and see on the intel.
Greg Chase was at the summer camp but a bizarre fall with the Calgary Hitmen saw him sent home and then traded. Whatever the problem, it robbed the young man of a world junior experience.
There are a lot of draft eligible kids at this year’s world juniors, and with Edmonton (currently) holding the No. 1 and No. 31 spots in the 2015 draft there are some important players to watch at this year’s tournament. Here are 13 I’ll be watching:
- Connor McDavid (CAN) is the most famous name and very likely the No. 1 overall pick in the coming draft. He’s a once-in-a-decade-or-more talent so Oilers fans will be dreaming of McDavid in Oilers colors for the next several months.
- Jack Eichel (USA) is gaining steam as a co-leader of this year’s draft talent (Craig Button has both McDavid and the American at No. 1 in his December update). He has been described as a skill power forward.
- Noah Hanifin (USA) is generally regarded as the top defenseman in the 2015 draft. He has size, speed and a physical edge, might be lacking in the shot-from-the-point department and overall offense.
- Pavel Zacha (CZE) He’s got high-end skill and is an excellent competitor; he plays an excellent two-way game. If the Oilers pick below No. 3, he might be their man.
- Zach Werenski (USA) College defender who is really spiking up the draft lists due to an impressive college season. Nice range of skills, he’s not as famous as Hanifin but is a true talent.
- Lawson Crouse (CAN) is a big winger who plays a power game. He’s projected to go in the first round of the 2015 draft and would certainly be an attractive option for Edmonton.
- Ivan Provorov (RUS) Outstanding puck moving defender who can impact the game and is taking a major step forward this year.
- Mikko Rantanen (FIN) Very skilled Finnish winger who appears to be a lock for the first round.
- Sebastian Aho (FIN) Skill winger on a solid Finland team.
- Jens Looke (SWE) Smaller skill winger who is playing in the Swedish Elite League.
- Sebastian Aho (SWE) Undersized, puck moving defenseman. Fascinating prospect. I know it’s confusing, he is the less talented Sebastian Aho from what I’m reading.
- David Kase (CZE) Small and very skilled winger impressed at the U18 WJ’s a year ago.
- Alexander Sharov (RUS): Impressive scorer is 6.01, 180.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Merry Christmas! I’ll be updating throughout the holidays on the World
Juniors and following the progress of Nurse and Lagesson—as well as the top prospects for 2015.