The 2024 World Juniors to be held in Gothenburg, Sweden is just around the corner.
To prepare for the tournament, The Athletic‘s prospect writers Scott Wheeler and Corey Pronman each constructed a projected lineup for the traditional four major powers: Canada, the United States, Sweden, and Finland.
We have chosen to exclude the following players who we believe will not be loaned to the national team: Shane Wright (Seattle Kraken/Canada), Adam Fantilli (Columbus Blue Jackets/Canada), Matthew Poitras (Boston Blue) Ins/Canada), Kevin Korchinsky (Chicago Blackhawks/Canada), Logan Cooley (Arizona Coyotes/USA), Leo Karlsson (Anaheim Ducks/Sweden).
Rutger McGroarty (Winnipeg Jets/USA) was injured over the weekend, but I’m including him on an interim basis for now.
Strengthening the Canadian team will be a game of deciding which side to move the natural center to. Five of the eight so-called wingers here have played over 100 games this year as juniors (Conor Geekie, Frasen Minten, Easton Cowan, Denver Berkey) or played with their NHL/AHL clubs. (Matthew) Savoie). However, while you can expect Macklin Celebrini, Nate Danielson, and Owen Beck to be locked in midfield, there’s really only one job left. We put Braydan Jaeger in there because it made sense to keep him with Moose Jaw teammate and frequent linemate Jaguar Farkas. This group has more right-handed wingers than left-handed wingers, so it made sense for players like Geeky and Minten (both left-handed) to move on. I was tempted to keep the Wenatchee Wild trio of Zach Benson, Geeky, and Savoy together, but I prefer Geeky’s wing, and he’s on the opposite side of a player like Jordan Dumais. I think it really clicks.
Cowan and Burkey received the toughest calls up front. They’ll be a bit of a surprise since neither were invited to Hockey Canada’s virtual summer meetings, but they have chemistry to begin with and could be the two best penalty killers in the CHL, energetic and Perfect for up-tempo games. A prototype for Hockey Canada’s fourth line (though I wonder if this group is a little smaller up front than Canadian teams would like). My final forward option is Jets’ first-round pick Colby Barlow (followed by the Kraken’s Carson Rehkopf), but he’s been out of form lately and was slow to play on international ice at the U18 World Championship in the spring. I thought you were having a hard time.
On defense, Denton Matejczuk should be the No. 1 left-hander and all three right-handers should be locks. This leaves his two jobs and an additional job on the left. I used Jorian Donovan and Tristan Renaud as a hard-time pair, completing a third pair of opposite lengths with Michael Buchinger and Maverick Lamoureux. Right-handed Ty Nelson makes sense as a No. 7 who can run the power play in a pinch. However, keep an eye out for undrafted 19-year-old Erie captain Spencer Sova as a sneaky candidate to replace a player like Donovan on this team. — Scott Wheeler
Canada’s front group is very talented, but there are questions about this group heading into the tournament. Geeky, Danielson, and Jaeger are all good players, but none are his ideal 1C that you want at this level of play. Wright could represent Canada, but Seattle probably won’t get him. The next issue is size. It’s a small but very skilled group of wingers. It will be interesting to see how these forwards fare against a blue line like Sweden. That’s why I think Rehkopf can make this team even at 18 years old. He is different from other wingers because he is 6 feet 1 inch tall, skates very well, and can provide legitimate offense.
Canada’s Blue Line is even more exciting. With this set of players, they have size, mobility, and puck movement. Korchinski would add a dynamic defensive element they lack, but they should be fine without him.
The big problem for Canada is the goals. The expected goalkeeper for this tournament is a bit of a mystery. Some of the players that scouts thought could be starters have not played well this season, including Domenic DiVincentis, Scott Raztlav and Karson Bjarnason. — Corey Pronman
This American group, which is my favorite for this year’s tournament, is loaded with big names, especially up front — a first-round pick, the NCAA team’s leading scorer, and possibly a future No. 1 player or future top scorer. There will probably be some players — but they’re all there. Choose 3 — Exit.
However, the top six listed here make the most sense as a starting point. His three star players who formed his top line from the 2004 generation return, and the 2005 trio forms his best line in NTDP history, reuniting a few weekends into this season. It quickly gained attention in BC. Then, in the third row, we have to draw a returnee named Gavin Brindley. And I think it’s Charlie Stramell, who is a returnee, even though he was battling health and play issues earlier this year. The real chemistry between former NTDP linemates Frank Nazar and Isaac Howard, who looked good together again at the World Junior Summer Showcase, is evident in Brindley (who they have also played together) Makes a lot of sense side by side. I’d go with Gavin Hayes and Cam Lund over Flyers prospect Devin Kaplan to add a bit of size and positional diversity to a bottom-six team, plus speed and work ethic to fit there. (Stramell could be the center of that line, but I think he makes more sense as a wing on international ice).
You’ll notice that top 2024 and 2025 prospects Cole Yzerman and James Hagens are not on my team. Yzerman is either a top-six player or not at all, but that spot will be filled quickly. His chances of joining the team are likely to depend on McGraw-Arty’s health. Hagens has the talent to easily play inside the top six, so he was the toughest candidate. Yzerman and Hagens are clearly eligible to play in next year’s tournament as well.
Defensively, they have more right-handed players than left-handed players, so they moved returning player Seamus Casey to free up space for Hunter Buzstevic and Sam Lindsell, both of whom I think are getting recognition. I like Eric Poekamp as a hard-shooting, physical type who can fill in if the power play is struggling. However, if they feel that the seven players they have brought in here are not enough in terms of defense or penalties, they could sign a player like 19-year-old Charlie Reddy. — Scott Wheeler
The biggest issue for the U.S. will be who will make up this forward group given the abundance of options, and vice versa, who will be selected on the blue line.
You can write in the top six forwards, Will Smith and Ryan Leonard. Then the discussion begins. Tough decisions will have to be made because there are plenty of scoring options on the wing between Gabe Perreault, Howard, Quentin Musti, Yzerman and Lund. Out of these options, I think Perreault has looked the best this season. He has played a key role on top NCAA teams and has carried over his junior playmaking to the collegiate level. Masti is a candidate for next year for me. Yzerman struggled during the Under-18 Five Nations in November, likely nixing any chance of him making the squad. Although Howard is very skilled, he is not an equally strong driver. Lund has size, skill, and speed, but is inconsistent. Stramell is a returning member from last year’s team, but he has struggled this season at Wisconsin. Given his success in last season’s tournament, I’m guessing he would have the upper hand in this scenario.
Hagens is 1C because he is eligible to be in the lineup, but he probably won’t be ready to be a significant contributor right away. His minutes will have to be managed, but he slots in between Cutter Gauthier and Jimmy Snageld, so the Michigan and Smith trios could stick around. — Corey Pronman
The strength of this Swedish team is on the blue line, with four players eligible to return (Axel Sandin-Peljka, Cal Odelius, Elias Pettersson and Jakob Nollen), and two more free from last year’s injuries. Players who would have returned (Matthias Haverid and Elias Salomonsson), Red Wings prospect Anton Johansson, who has recently garnered attention on the national team, and first-rounder Tom Wilander. If you do the math, he has 8 players for 7 jobs. I decided to hang up the curtain, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they surprise some people and don’t bring Wilander.
Up front, the first line has been playing together for years and should be one of the best lines in the tournament, with Philippe Bustedt the team’s leading scorer last year and the centerpiece of the second line. Should, and Fabian Wagner and Oskar Pettersson are the other two returnees. play an important role. Sweden’s top line from last year’s U18 World Championship, Otto Stenberg, David Edström and Felix Unger Solm, will be reunited as the third line, with Anton Wahlberg and Isaac Bourne contributing to their performance at home and abroad. I like to build teams based on positional diversity (Wahlberg is a natural center, for example). Alexander Suzdarev is an interesting player. He started in the AHL with Hersey and then he just moved back to Sweden and hasn’t played much this season, but I think he’s a talented lefty and deserves to be there. — Scott Wheeler
Sweden’s lineup may be lacking the true high-end talent they’ve been used to seeing for years, but things would have been different if Leo Karlsson had been available. The lineup is very deep on both forwards and defense, but there are three legitimate scoring lines and seven quality defensemen who all skate well and can move the puck. Although this group is not a favorite for gold, they won gold at U18 level with the same expectations. — Corey Pronman
The Finnish team will be without 2024 top D prospect Aron Kibiharju and Islanders prospect Jesse Nurmi due to injuries, as well as returnee Topi Roni, who is facing criminal charges in Finland. become. As a result, they will have to rely on some young players up front, even if they acquire Predators’ first-round pick Joakim Kemer and make their fourth tournament appearance. Top 2024 prospect Konsta Helenius is a certainty, but Emil Hemming could also be brought in. They have big forwards like Kasper Hartunen, Rasmus Kumplainen and Sam Bowe, and the size to compensate for their youth. We also included Jesse Pulkinen, a D-draft pick like Kalle Kangas who is much taller than the team. .
I’ll be interested to see what they do on the left wing upfront after Jani Nyman. Because they are stronger on the right side (they moved Haltunen’s right-hander). So I hope Leni Hameyenaho will give a great performance. My final choice up front was the Penguins’ speedy left-handed prospect Emil Gerventi, favoring the even faster and stronger 19-year-old Tomi Maniste.
I have to say, it was good to see two-time undrafted 19-year-old D. Elmeli Laakso recently transferred to the U-20 team. Because I think if they get him, he can play a big role and help the team. NHL stock.
On the internet, Niklas Kokko is a returnee, and while I’m just returning from injury, I’m looking at Sabers prospect Topias Leinonen and 2024 prospect Emil Vinni (37/38 at the Fall Five Nations). ), and we brought things together. Outside. — Scott Wheeler
For Finland, there aren’t that many tough decisions to make regarding draftable players and draftable players. Most of the expected names make up this team. For Finland, it will be a matter of getting some help from lesser-known names. Jere Lasila is an excellent junior player who is small but quick and skilled. Pulkinen is a tall defenseman who has the potential to shine in the tournament. — Corey Pronman
Other notable potential prospects
- Slovakia: Dalibor Dvorsky (Blues), Maxim Stback (Sabres), Simon Nemec (Devils), Philippe Messard (Canadiens), Adam Gajan (Blackhawks), Adam Sikora (Rangers), Alex Szernik (Flyers), Martin Misiak (Blackhawks), Samuel Honzek (Flame)
- Czech Republic: Jiri Klich (Sabres), Mattias Szapovaliv (Golden Knights), Eduardo Sale (Kraken), Adam Dzeko (2024), Tomas Hamara (Senators), Adam Jilicek (2024), Jakub Dvorak (Kings) ), Michael Frabal (Coyotes)
- Switzerland: Rian Bixel (Stars), Rodwin Dionisio (Ducks), Daniil Ustinkov (2024)
- Germany: Julian Lutz (Coyote)
- Latvia: Dans Lokmalis (Bruins), Sandis Vilmanis (Panthers), Eriks Matejko (2024)
- Norway: Michael Brandsegg-Nygaard (2024)
(Top photo of Cutter Gauthier and Macklin Celebrini: Samppa Toivonen / Apollo Photo / DeFodi Images via Getty Images, Michael Miller / ISI Photos / Getty Images)