The 2021 World Junior Championships begin on Christmas Day in Edmonton with 10 teams including Canada, Finland, Germany, Slovakia and Switzerland in Group A, while Austria, the Czech Republic, Russia, Sweden and the United States are in Group B. This season, there will be no relegation due to COVID-19.
It is expected to be a top-notch tournament with very little hockey being played in North America. Canada will have 20 former first-round picks on the squad, reminiscent of teams from the lockout years of 2005 and 2013. The Russians will be strong as usual as their Under-20 team won the Karjala Cup, a tournament usually played by men’s teams, with the other three squads from Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic all having much older teams.
Of course, the pandemic is taking a toll on the tournament as Sweden lost a bunch of players while the Americans will not have John Beecher who tested positive on December 12, and the Sharks Thomas Bordeleau who was rooming with the Bruins prospect Beecher and was banned from the tourney.
A couple of players will be at NHL camps and therefore not be in Edmonton including the American’s Nick Robertson who will be trying to make the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Alexis Lafreniere of Canada who was selected first overall and was not released by the New York Rangers.
Here are the rosters and team affiliations of all players, including who are 2021 and 2022 eligible. The Los Angeles Kings lead with nine prospects while the St. Louis Blues are the only team without a prospect to watch in the tournament.
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Forwards: Mathias Bohm –2021 Draft Eligible, Tim Harnisch - 2021 Draft Eligible, Maximilian Hengelmuller - 2021 Draft Eligible, Fabian Hochegger - 2021 Draft Eligible, Marco Kasper - 2022 Draft Eligible, Clemens Krainz - 2021 Draft Eligible, Julian Pauschenwein - 2021 Draft Eligible, Senna Peeters - 2021 Draft Eligible, Marco Rossi - Minnesota, Lucas Thaler - 2021 Draft Eligible, Maximilian Theirich -2021 Draft Eligible, Marlon Tschofen - 2021 Draft Eligible), Dominik Unterweger - 2021 Draft Eligible, Finn van Ee - 2021 Draft Eligible, Leon Wallner - 2021 Draft Eligible
Defensemen: Jonas Kutzer - 2021 Draft Eligible, Luis Lindner - 2021 Draft Eligible, Moritz Molls - 2021 Draft Eligible, Lukas Necesany - 2021 Draft Eligible, Timo Pallierer - 2021 Draft Eligible, Jacob Pfeffer - 2021 Draft Eligible, Bernhard Posch - 2021 Draft Eligible, Niklas Wetzl - 2021 Draft Eligible, Philipp Wimmer - 2021 Draft Eligible
Goaltenders: Jakob Brandner - 2021 Draft Eligible, Leon Sommer - 2021 Draft Eligible, Sebastian Wraneschitz - 2021 Draft Eligible.
The Austrians advanced to the tournament by defeating Hungary as Latvia, Belarus and Denmark either refused to travel to the elimination tourney or had too many COVID-19 cases to participate. The Austrians should be fodder in this tournament. Most players are 2021 eligible and playing this year will provide valuable experience for next year.
Player to Watch: The Austrians have a star in Marco Rossi who led the OHL in scoring with 120 points in only 56 games for the Ottawa 67s, winning the Most Outstanding Player in the league, and then was drafted ninth overall by the Minnesota Wild. He has a good chance to crack the Wild lineup once he enters training camp.
Forwards: Martin Beranek - 2021 Draft Eligible, Michal Gut - 2021 Draft Eligible, Filip Koffer - 2021 Draft Eligible, Martin Lang - 2021 Draft Eligible, Radek Muzik - 2021 Draft Eligible, Jan Mysak - Montreal, Adam Najman - 2021 Draft Eligible, Pavel Novak - Minnesota, Filip Prikryl - 2021 Draft Eligible, Ondrej Psenicka - 2021 Draft Eligible, Jaromir Pytlik – New Jersey, Adam Raska – San Jose, Jakub Rychlovsky - 2021 Draft Eligible, Michal Teply – Chicago, Matej Toman - 2021 Draft Eligible, David Vitouch - 2021 Draft Eligible
Defensemen: Martin Has - Washington, David Jiricek - 2022 Draft Eligible, Karel Klikorka - 2021 Draft Eligible, Michael Krutil - Chicago, Simon Kubicek - 2021 Draft Eligible, Radek Kucerik - 2021 Draft Eligible, Daniel Poizl - 2021 Draft Eligible, Jiri Suhrada - 2021 Draft Eligible, Stanislav Svozil- 2021 Draft Eligible
Goaltenders: Jan Bednar - Detroit, Nick Malik - 2021 Draft Eligible, Lukas Parik – Los Angeles
The Czechs have nine players who have been drafted by NHL teams, and could surprise as two of their netminders, Jan Bednar (Detroit) and Lukas Parik (Los Angeles) have been drafted into the NHL. They likely are a middling team in the tournament and while they should make the playoffs, an upset would be needed to advance to the semi-finals.
Players to Watch: Jan Mysak was selected in the second round (48th overall) in October by the Canadiens and is their best player. The Blackhawks reassigned Michal Teply to the Czech side and he should be watched. A couple of 2021 eligible draft choices, defenseman Stanislav Svozil and forward Michal Gut bear watching as well as they will be selected in July.
Forwards: Mikhail Abramov - Toronto, Yegor Afanasyev - Nashville, Rodion Amirov - Toronto Zakhar Bardakov - 2021 Draft Eligible, Danil Bashkirov - 2021 Draft Eligible, Yegor Chinakhov - Columbus, Vladislav Firstov - Minnesota, Arseni Gritsyuk – New Jersey, Maxim Groshev – Tampa Bay, Marat Khusnutdinov - Minnesota, Vasili Podkolzin - Vancouver, Vasili Ponomaryov - Carolina, Ilya Safonov 2021 Draft Eligible, Yegor Spiridonov – San Jose
Defensemen: Roman Bychkov - Boston, Daniil Chayka - 2021 Draft Eligible, Semyon Chistyakov – Nashville, Kirill Kirsanov - 2021 Draft Eligible, Artemi Kniazev – San Jose, Yan Kuznetsov - Calgary, Shakir Mukhamadullin – New Jersey, Yegor Shekhovtsov - 2021 Draft Eligible
Goaltenders: Artur Akhtyamov - Toronto, Yaroslav Askarov – Nashville, Vsevolod Skotnikov - 2021 Draft Eligible
The Russians have an outstanding team and have to be medal favorites and could make it into the finals on January 5, they are that talented. There is a lot of talent on this team from the net on out and they should be exciting to watch.
Players to watch: As mentioned in the previous paragraph, their goaltending is led by Yaroslav Askarov who was taken 11th overall in the 2020 Draft by Nashville and is capable of winning the tournament by himself. There were three other Russians taken this season in the first round as the Maple Leafs selected Rodion Amirov 15th (he led all scorers in the Karjala Cup with three goals in three games), while defenseman Shakir Mukhamadullin and Yergor Chinahkov, were taken back-to-back 20th and 21st overall by New Jersey and Columbus respectively. Vasily Podkolzin was drafted 10th overall by Vancouver in 2019 and he also bears watching.
Forwards: Oscar Bjerselius - 2021 Draft Eligible, Arvid Costmar - Vancouver, Noel Gunler – Carolina, Emil Heineman - Florida, Simon Holmstrom – New York Islanders, Alexander Holtz – New Jersey, Oskar Kvist - 2021 Draft Eligible, Theodor Niederbach - Detroit, Zion Nybeck – Carolina, Oskar Olausson - 2021 Draft Eligible, Lucas Raymond - Detroit, Elmer Soderblom - Detroit, Albin Sundsvik – Anaheim, Jonathan Wikstrom - 2021 Draft Eligible
Defensemen: Emil Andrae - Philadelphia, Gustav Berglund - Detroit, Tobias Bjornfot – Los Angeles, Alex Brannstam - 2021 Draft Eligible, Philip Broberg - Edmonton, Ludvig Hedstrom - 2021 Draft Eligible, Albert Johansson - Detroit, Victor Soderstrom - Arizona
Goaltenders: Hugo Alnefelt – Tampa Bay, Calle Clang - Pittsburgh, Jesper Wallstedt - 2021 Draft Eligible
The Swedes were hit and hit hard by COVID-19 as Karl Hendriksson, William Wallinder and William Eklund were unable to travel with the team. Hendriksson was expected to center the top line between Alexander Holtz and Lucas Raymond. Wallinder was supposed to be a top-four defenseman while Eklund is 2021 eligible and could have taken over for Henriksson on the top unit. Sweden also lost their coaching staff due to the coronavirus and could be at a disadvantage in the tournament.
Players to watch: There are still so many for Sweden, led off by Lucas Raymond who was drafted fourth overall in 2020 by Detroit. The star player had five goals and 12 points in 22 games with Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League and was their go-to player on the power play of late. Arvid Costmar could center the top line with Hendriksson out and that should excite Vancouver fans. The blueline is strong with Tobias Bjornfot, Philip Broberg and Victor Soderstrom heading up the defense.
Forwards: Matthew Beniers - 2021 Draft Eligible, Brett Berard – New York Rangers, Matthew Boldy - Minnesota, Bobby Brink - Philadelphia, Brendan Brisson - Vegas, Cole Caufield - Montreal, Sam Colangelo - Anaheim, John Farinacci - Arizona, Arthur Kaliyev – Los Angeles, Patrick Moynihan – New Jersey, Landon Slaggert - Chicago, Alex Turcotte – Los Angeles, Trevor Zegras - Anaheim
Defensemen: Brock Faber – Los Angeles, Drew Helleson – Colorado. Ryan Johnson - Buffalo, Tyler Kleven - Ottawa, Jackson LaCombe – Anaheim, Jake Sanderson - Ottawa, Hunter Skinner – New York Rangers, Henry Thrun - Anaheim, Cam York - Philadelphia
Goaltenders: Spencer Knight – Florida, Logan Stein - 2021 Draft Eligible, Dustin Wolf - Calgary
The Americans should be a medal favorite as well as they have outstanding goaltending with Spencer Knight and Dustin Wolf, a solid blueline led by Jake Sanderson and Cam York and firepower up front with Cole Caufield and Alex Turcotte leading the way.
Players to watch: Spencer Knight is good enough to steal the tournament for the United States as he and Askarov are the two best goaltenders in Edmonton (and that could include the Oilers goaltenders). Keep your eye on Matthew Beniers who will likely be the highest drafted player in 2021 and playing at the World Championships. He should go in the top-five. The Americans have Montreal draft pick Cole Caufield as their top forward and watch out for Trevor Zegras who had nine assists in five games in the 2020 WJC. Matthew Boldy of the Wild is also worth watching.
Forwards: Quinton Byfield – Los Angeles, Dylan Cozens - Buffalo, Kirby Dach - Chicago, Dylan Holloway - Edmonton, Peyton Krebs – Vegas, Connor McMichael - Washington, Dawson Mercer – New Jersey, Alex Newhook - Colorado, Jakob Pelletier - Calgary, Cole Perfetti - Winnipeg, Jack Quinn – Buffalo, Ryan Suzuki - Carolina, Philip Tomasino - Nashville, Connor Zary - Calgary
Defensemen: Justin Barron - Colorado, Bowen Byram - Colorado, Jamie Drysdale - Anaheim, Kaiden Guhle - Edmonton, Thomas Harley - Dallas, Kaedan Korczak - Vegas, Braden Schneider – New York Rangers, Jordan Spence – Los Angeles.
Goaltenders: Dylan Garand - New York Rangers, Taylor Gauthier - 2021 Draft Eligible, Devon Levi - Florida
Canada has a powerhouse but could be weaker as Kirby Dach was injured Wednesday in their only pre-tournament game. It appeared that he injured his arm but there was no word after the game as to the extent of the injury. As mentioned earlier, there are 20 first-round picks on Canada’s 25-man roster with goaltender Taylor Gauthier being the only 2021 Draft eligible player. The only perceived weakness for Canada could be in net but they are so strong at forward and on the blueline, it may not matter.
* Late note: Dach is out of action for the tournament with a fractured arm.
Players to watch: Pretty well everyone. Quinton Byfield was selected second overall by the Kings and is the highest drafted player in the tournament. The Sabres have their last two first round picks playing for Canada in Dylan Cozens and Jack Quinn. Bowen Byram could play in Colorado this season and Jamie Drysdale will be a top-rearguard with Anaheim for years.
Forwards: Samuel Helenius - 2021 Draft Eligible, Roni Hirvonen - Toronto, Roby Jarventie - Ottawa, Benjamin Korhonen - 2021 Draft Eligible, Brad Lambert - 2022 Draft Eligible, Anton Lundell- Florida, Matias Mantykivi - Boston, Henri Nikkanen - Winnipeg, Juuso Parssinen - Nashville, Mikko Petman - 2021 Draft Eligible, Petteri Puhakka - 2021 Draft Eligible, Mikael Pyyhtia - Columbus, Aku Raty - Arizona, Kasper Simontaival – Los Angeles
Defensemen: Santeri Hatakka – San Jose, Ville Heinola - Winnipeg, Mikko Kokkonen - Toronto, Topi Niemela - Toronto, Kasper Puutio - Florida, Ruben Rafkin - 2021 Draft Eligible, Matias Rajaniemi – New York Islanders, Eemil Viro – Detroit
Goaltenders: Joel Blomqvist - Pittsburgh, Kari Piiroinen - 2021 Draft Eligible, Roope Taponen - 2021 Draft Eligible
The Finns usually have a good team but the top-four of Canada, the United States, Russia and Sweden may be too tough for Finland to overcome. There are some nice first round picks in Anton Lundell and Ville Heinola to build around.
Players to Watch: Lundell was drafted 12th overall by Florida and will captain the Finnish side. Heinola played eight games as an 18-year-old with the Jets after going 20th overall in 2019. The defenseman had a goal and five points before he was sent back to Finland via the Manitoba Moose. The Finns have a likely top-two pick in 2022 in Brad Lambert who just turned 17 last week. He will be worth watching.
Forwards: Manuel Alberg - 2021 Draft Eligible, Jakub Borzecki - 2021 Draft Eligible, Julian Chrobot - 2021 Draft Eligible, Samuel Dube - 2021 Draft Eligible, Florian Elias - 2021 Draft Eligible, Enrico Henriquez-Morales - 2021 Draft Eligible, Jan Nijenhuis - 2021 Draft Eligible, John-Jason Peterka - Buffalo, Filip Reisnecker - 2021 Draft Eligible, Joshua Samanski - 2021 Draft Eligible, Jan-Luca Schumacher - 2021 Draft Eligible, Markus Schweiger - 2021 Draft Eligible, Tim Stuetzle - Ottawa, Justin Volek - 2021 Draft Eligible
Defensemen: Lucas Flade - 2021 Draft Eligible, Maximilian Glotzl - 2021 Draft Eligible, Simon Gnyp - 2021 Draft Eligible, Niklas Langer - 2021 Draft Eligible, Luca Munzenberger - 2021 Draft Eligible, Steven Raabe - 2021 Draft Eligible, Maksymilian Szuber - 2021 Draft Eligible, Mario Zimmermann - 2021 Draft Eligible
Goaltenders: Florian Bugl - 2021 Draft Eligible, Jonas Gahr - 2021 Draft Eligible, Arno Tiefensee - 2021 Draft Eligible
Germany is an up-and-coming team in the hockey world. They are going to be a team in the World Championships to be reckoned with in a few years. Germany had three players go in the top-34 of the 2020 Draft but unfortunately will not have Lukas Reichel in Edmonton as the first-round pick and 17th overall selection of the Chicago Blackhawks tested positive for COVID-19 and will be unable to play.
Players to Watch: Tim Stuetzle was picked third overall in the 2020 Draft by Ottawa and many thought he could have gone second. The Sabres picked John-Jason Peterka third in the second-round and the trio with Reichel would have made an outstanding line in this tournament. Still Stuetzle and Peterka are worth watching.
Forwards: Robert Baco - 2021 Draft Eligible, Martin Chromiak – Los Angeles, Michael Drabek - 2021 Draft Eligible, Juraj Elias - 2021 Draft Eligible, Roman Faith - 2021 Draft Eligible, Maros Jedlicka - 2021 Draft Eligible, Simon Jellus - 2021 Draft Eligible, Dominik Jendek - 2021 Draft Eligible, Matej Kaslik - 2021 Draft Eligible, Jakub Kolenic - 2021 Draft Eligible, Filip Mesar - 2022 Draft Eligible, Michal Mrazik - 2021 Draft Eligible, Oleksij Myklucha - 2021 Draft Eligible,Juraj Slafkovsky - 2022 Draft Eligible, Dominik Sojka - 2021 Draft Eligible, Artur Turansky - 2021 Draft Eligible
Defensemen: Simon Becar - 2021 Draft Eligible, Andrej Golian 2021 Draft Eligible, Simon Groch - 2021 Draft Eligible, Matus Hlavac - 2021 Draft Eligible, Samuel Knazko - Columbus, David Mudrak - 2021 Draft Eligible, Simon Nemec - 2022 Draft Eligible, Rayen Petrovicky - 2021 Draft Eligible, Marko Stacha - 2021 Draft Eligible, Oliver Turan - 2021 Draft Eligible
Goaltenders: Samuel Hlavaj - 2021 Draft Eligible, Patrik Kozel - 2021 Draft Eligible, Simon Latkoczy - 2021 Draft Eligible, Eugen Rabcan - 2021 Draft Eligible
Slovakia is in tough with just two drafted players and a bunch of 2021 and 2022 eligible players. This will be a learning experience for the Slovaks who suspended what could have been their top offensive threat in Maxim Cajkovic for some dirty hits in scrimmage. He was a third-round pick of the Lightning and his experience (but not his attitude) will be missed.
Players to watch: Martin Chromiak is one of two drafted players on Team Slovakia. The Kings fifth-round pick in 2020, Chromiak had 11 goals and 33 points in 28 OHL games with the Kingston Frontenacs. Samuel Knazko was taken in the third round by Columbus in October but Slovakia will need goaltender Samuel Hlavaj to come up big if Slovakia has any hopes of advancing to the quarter-finals.
Forwards: Dario Allenspach - 2021 Draft Eligible, Jeremie Bartschi - 2021 Draft Eligible, Attilio Biasca - 2021 Draft Eligible, Stefano Bottini - 2021 Draft Eligible, Mika Burkhalter - 2021 Draft Eligible, Lorenzo Canonica - 2021 Draft Eligible, Ronny Dahler - 2021 Draft Eligible, Keanu Derungs - 2021 Draft Eligible, Raymond Fust - 2021 Draft Eligible, Valentin Hofer - 2021 Draft Eligible, Gaetan Jobin - 2021 Draft Eligible, Simon Knak - 2021 Draft Eligible, Lionel Marchand - 2021 Draft Eligible, Joel Salzgeber - 2021 Draft Eligible, Elvis Schlapfer - 2021 Draft Eligible
Defensemen: Inaki Baragano - 2021 Draft Eligible, Giancarlo Chanton - 2021 Draft Eligible, Noah Delemont - 2021 Draft Eligible, Cedric Fiedler - 2021 Draft Eligible, Bastian Guggenheim - 2021 Draft Eligible, Silvan Landolt - 2021 Draft Eligible, Noah Meier - 2021 Draft Eligible, Rocco Pezzullo - 2021 Draft Eligible, Dario Sidler - 2021 Draft Eligible, Alessandro Villa - 2021 Draft Eligible, Nathan Vouardoux - 2021 Draft Eligible, Brian Zanetti - 2021 Draft Eligible
Goaltenders: Thibault Fatton - 2021 Draft Eligible, Andri Henauer - 2021 Draft Eligible, Noah Patenaude - 2021 Draft Eligible, Lucas Rotheli - 2021 Draft Eligible
The Swiss enter the tournament with an extremely young team as everyone is 2021 eligible for the Draft. They get a break in that no team will be relegated for the 2022 World Juniors and the year of experience this time will be a huge factor in a year.
Players to watch: The Swiss will likely battle Slovakia for fourth place in Group A. Noah Patenaude will need to be very good and is worth watching. Others to consider are Inaki Baragano who played for Portland of the WHL last season, while up front look for Lorenzo Canonica to impress.
If you are looking only at players on your favorite NHL team, here are each team’s prospects.
Anaheim – Jamie Drysdale (CAN), Sam Colangelo (USA), Trevor Zegras (USA), Jackson LaCombe (USA), Henry Thrun (USA), Albin Sundsvik (SWE)
Arizona – John Fannacci (USA), Victor Soderstrom (SWE), Aku Raty (FIN)
Boston – Roman Bychkov (RUS), Matias Mantykivi (FIN)
Buffalo – Dylan Cozens (CAN), Jack Quinn (CAN), Ryan Johnson (USA), John Peterka (GER)
Calgary – Jakob Pelletier (CAN), Connor Zary (CAN), Dustin Wolf (USA), Yan Kuznetsov (RUS)
Carolina – Ryan Suzuki (CAN), Vasili Ponomaryov (RUS), Noel Gunler (SWE), Zion Nybeck (SWE)
Chicago – Kirby Dach (CAN), Landon Slaggert (USA), Michal Teply (CZE), Michael Krutil (CZE)
Colorado – Alex Newhook (CAN), Justin Barron (CAN), Bowen Byram (CAN), Drew Helleson (USA)
Columbus – Yegor Chinahkov (RUS), Mikael Pyyhtia (FIN), Samuel Knazko (SLO)
Dallas – Thomas Harley (CAN)
Detroit – Theodor Niederbach (SWE), Lucas Raymond (SWE), Elmer Soderblom (SWE), Gustav Berglund (SWE), Albert Johansson (SWE), Jan Bednar (CZE)
Edmonton – Dylan Holloway (CAN), Kaden Guhle (CAN), Philip Broberg (SWE)
Florida – Devon Levi (CAN), Spencer Knight (USA), Emil Heineman (SWE), Anton Lundell (FIN), Kasper Puutio (FIN)
Los Angeles – Quinton Byfield (CAN), Jordan Spence (CAN), Arthur Kaliyev (USA), Alex Turcotte (USA), Brock Faber (USA), Tobias Bjornfot (SWE), Kasper Simontaival (FIN), Lukas Parik (CZE), Martin Chromiak (SLO)
Minnesota – Matthew Boldy (USA), Vladislav Firstov (RUS), Marat Khusnutdinov (RUS), Pavel Novak (CZE), Marco Rossi (AUT)
Montreal – Cole Caufield (USA), Jan Mysak (CZE)
Nashville – Philip Tomasino (CAN), Yegor Afanasyev (RUS) , Yaroslav Askarov (RUS), Semyon Chistyakov (RUS), Juuso Parssinen (FIN)
New Jersey – Dawson Mercer (CAN), Patrick Moynihan (USA), Arseni Gritsyuk (RUS), Shakir Mukhamadullin (RUS), Alexander Holtz (SWE), Jaromirr Pytlik (CZE)
New York Islanders – Simon Holmstrom (SWE), Matias Rajaniemi (FIN)
New York Rangers – Braden Schneider (CAN), Dylan Garland (CAN), Brett Berard (USA), Hunter Skinner (USA)
Ottawa – Jake Sanderson (USA), Roby Jarventie (FIN), Tim Stuetzle (GER)
Philadelphia – Bobby Brink (USA), Cam York (USA), Emil Andrae (SWE)
Pittsburgh – Calle Clang (SWE), Joel Blomqvist (FIN)
San Jose – Yegor Spiridonov (RUS), Arremi Kniazev (RUS), Santeri Hatakka (FIN), Adam Raska (CZE)
St. Louis – None
Tampa Bay – Maxim Groshev (RUS), Hugo Alnefelt (SWE)
Toronto – Mikhail Abramov (RUS), Rodion Amirov (RUS), Artur Akhtyamov (RUS), Roni Hirvonen (FIN), Mikko Kokkonen (FIN), Topi Niemela (FIN)
Vancouver – Vasili Podkolzin (RUS), Arvid Costmar (SWE)
Vegas – Peyton Krebs (CAN), Kaedan Korczak (CAN), Brendan Brisson (USA)
Washington – Connor McMichael (CAN), Martin Has (CZE)
Winnipeg – Cole Perfetti (CAN), Henri Nikkanen (FIN), Ville Heinola (FIN)