Monthly Archives: December 2014

2015 World Juniors Preview

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Maybe it’s because Finland won last year or maybe its the fact that we are going to see the long awaited Connor McDavid vs. Jack Eichel matchup on New Year’s Eve.

Whatever the reason is, I am super pumped for this year’s IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship, which will be held in Montreal and Toronto from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5.

As such, I have decided to make some predictions for this year’s tournament that you can read below. Spoiler alert, I wasn’t massively biased towards my motherland and the defending tournament champions this time around.

Group A

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1) United States (Last Year: Fifth Place – Last Gold Medal: 2013)

Goalies: Thatcher Demko (95 – Boston College (NCAA) – 2.12 – 9-6-1 – Vancouver), Brandon Halverson (96 – Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) – 2.93 – 16-3-2 – NY Rangers), Alex Nedeljkovic (96 – Plymouth (OHL) – 3.43 – 9-14-3 – Carolina)

Defence: Will Butcher (95 – Denver (NCAA) – 2-6-8 – Colorado), Brandon Carlo (96 – Tri-City (WHL) – 2-13-15 – 2015 Draft Eligible), Ryan Collins (96 – Minnesota (NCAA) – 0-4-4 – Columbus), Anthony DeAngelo (95 – Sarnia (OHL) – 10-26-36 – Tampa Bay), Noah Hanifin (97 – Boston College (NCAA) – 2-5-7 – 2015 Draft Eligible), Ian McCoshen (95 – Boston College (NCAA) – 2-3-5 – Florida), Zach Werenski (97 – Michigan (NCAA) – 3-9-12 – 2015 Draft Eligible)

Forwards: J.T. Compher (95 – Michigan (NCAA) – 3-8-11 – Buffalo), Chase De Leo (95 – Portland (WHL) – 17-25-42 – Winnipeg), Jack Eichel (96 – Boston (NCAA) – 8-19-27 – 2015 Draft Eligible), Hudson Fasching (95 – Minnesota (NCAA), 5-2-7 – Buffalo), John Hayden (95 – Yale (NCAA), 3-7-10 – Chicago), Dylan Larkin (96 – Michigan (NCAA) – 3-13-16 – Detroit), Anthony Louis (95 – Miami (NCAA), 3-11-14 – Chicago), Auston Matthews (97 – US NTDP (USHL) – 6-8-14 – 2016 Draft Eligible), Sonny Milano (96 – Plymouth (OHL) – 8-23-31 – Columbus), Tyler Motte (95 – Michigan (NCAA) – 5-9-14 – Chicago), Nick Schmaltz (96 – North Dakota (NCAA), 3-12-15 – Chicago), Alex Tuch (96 – Boston College (NCAA) – 5-7-12 – Minnesota), Miles Wood (95 – Noble & Greenough (High School) – 3-5-8 – New Jersey)

My word do I love this team. I mean, you have a forward core with Eichel, Matthews, Milano, Schmaltz, and a ton of other players who could score at a moments notice. That’s enough to frighten any opposing lineup.

With that said, the defence is a bit interesting with some young guys like Hanifin and Werenski. Then in goal, since Halverson and Nedeljkovic are being groomed for next season, Demko will be the man in charge. Although he’s solid at Boston College, I’m not convinced he’s as stellar as his predecessors Jack Campbell and John Gibson were.

Despite those question marks, this is in my opinion the strongest team the United States has brought to the tournament in a long time, and they will be tough to beat.

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2) Canada (Last Year: Fourth Place – Last Gold Medal: 2009)

Goalies: Eric Comrie (95 – Tri-City (WHL) – 2.50 – 14-10-0 – Winnipeg), Zach Fucale (95 – Quebec (QMJHL) – 3.20 – 13-9-2 – Montreal)

Defence: Madison Bowey (95 – Kelowna (WHL) – 8-25-33 – Washington), Dillon Heatherington (95 – Swift Current (WHL) – 1-10-11 – Columbus), Joe Hicketts (96 – Victoria (WHL) – 8-30-38 – Detroit), Samuel Morin (95 – Rimouski (QMJHL) – 2-7-9 – Philadelphia), Josh Morrissey (95 – Kelowna (WHL) – 7-14-21 – Winnipeg), Darnell Nurse (95 – Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) – 6-13-19 – Edmonton), Shea Theodore (95 – Seattle (WHL) – 2-6-8 – Anaheim)

Forwards: Lawson Crouse (97 – Kingston (OHL) – 12-4-16 – 2015 Draft Eligible), Max Domi (95 – London (OHL) – 17-41-58 – Arizona), Anthony Duclair (95 – NY Rangers (NHL) – 1-6-7), Robby Fabbri (96 – Guelph (OHL) – 18-20-28 – St. Louis), Frederik Gauthier (95 – Rimouski (QMJHL) – 8-6-14 – Toronto), Curtis Lazar (95 – Ottawa (NHL) – 1-6-7), Connor McDavid (97 – Erie (OHL) – 16-35-51 – 2015 Draft Eligible), Nick Paul (95 – North Bay (OHL) – 19-15-34 – Ottawa), Nic Petan (95 – Portland (WHL) – 6-27-33 – Winnipeg), Brayden Point (96 – Moose Jaw (WHL) – 17-27-44 – Tampa Bay), Sam Reinhart (95 – Kootenay (WHL) – 8-19-27 – Buffalo), Nick Ritchie (95 – Peterborough (OHL) – 14-18-32 – Anaheim), Jake Virtanen (96 – Calgary (WHL) – 9-14-23 – Vancouver)

In a shocking plot twist, Hockey Canada didn’t do anything to tick me off this year in the selection process. Okay, maybe I would have brought Michael Dal Colle over Lawson Crouse, but I think they got this team right.

Overall, this is a rock-solid squad. Getting Duclair and Lazar back from the NHL helps a lot, and it puts a ton of pressure off of McDavid, who will be under a huge microscope.

So why do I have them second? Call it more of a hunch if anything, but I think the States will win the round-robin finale on New Year’s Eve. Even if they do lose to their arch-rivals, this is a team that’s destined to get to the finals, as they have more depth than anyone in this field.

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3) Finland (Last Year: Gold Medal – Last Gold Medal: 2014)

Goalies: Ville Husso (95 – HIFK (Liiga) – 2.14 – 13-7-5 – St. Louis), Kaapo Kahkonen (96 – TuTo (Mestis) – 2.14 – N/A – Minnesota), Juuse Saros (95 – HPK (Liiga) – 8-7-9 – Nashville)

Defence: Julius Honka (95 – Texas (AHL) – 2-7-9 – Dallas), Mika Ilvonen (95 – St. Cloud State (NCAA) – 0-2-2 – Undrafted), Alex Lintuniemi (95 – Ottawa (OHL) – 3-13-16 – Los Angeles), Joonas Lyytinen (95 – KalPa (Liiga) – 5-4-9 – Nashville), Aleksi Makela (95 – Ilves (Liiga) – 0-5-5 – Dallas), Atte Makinen (95 – Tappara (Liiga) – 1-2-3 – Undrafted), Sami Niku (96 – JYP (Liiga) – 0-1-1 – 2015 Draft Eligible)

Forwards: Sebastian Aho (97 – Karpat (Liiga) – 2-3-5 – 2015 Draft Eligible), Hannes Bjorninen (95 – Pelicans (Liiga) – 1-2-3 – Undrafted), Roope Hintz (96 – Ilves (Liiga) – 4-7-11 – 2015 Draft Eligible), Juuso Ikonen (95 – JYP (Liiga) – 8-9-17 – Undrafted), Antti Kalapudas (96 – Hokki (Mestis) – 11-17-28 – Undrafted), Kasperi Kapanen (96 – KalPa (Liiga) – 9-7-16 – Pittsburgh), Artturi Lehoknen (95 – Frolunda (SHL) – 4-7-11 – Montreal), Aleksi Mustonen (95 – Ilves (Liiga) – 5-13-18 – Undrafted), Niko Ojamaki (95 – Assat (Liiga) – 3-3-6 – Undrafted), Jesse Puljujarvi (98 – Karpat (Liiga) – 3-1-4 – 2016 Draft Eligible), Mikko Rantanen (96 – TPS (Liiga) – 1-9-10 – 2015 Draft Eligible), Otto Rauhala (95 – Tappara (Liiga) – 1-0-1 – Undrafted), Julius Vahatalo (95 – TPS (Liiga) – 0-0-0 – Detroit)

Spoiler alert, Finland’s goaltending is going to be amazing. However, this team is nowhere near as good as the one that won it all last year, or even the lineup from 2013 that missed the playoffs entirely.

For starters, Rasmus Ristolainen, Ville Pokka, Mikko Vainonen, and Teuvo Teravinaen have all moved on. Sure Kapanen is actually healthy this year and Honka’s back, but this is a lineup that looks like it may be more of a threat in 2016 on home soil. Plus they are nowhere near the same level as Canada and the United States are.

With that said, I really want to see how Puljujarvi fares this week. I mean, how often does the mighty Suomi have a highly touted guy for a draft that’s two years away show up for a tournament like this one?

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4) Slovakia (Last Year: Eighth Place – Best Finish: Bronze Medal in 1999)

Goalies: Daniel Gibl (95 – Barrie (OHL) – 3.19 – 4-2-0 – Undrafted), Denis Godla (95 – Slovakia U20 – 3.19 – N/A – Undrafted), David Okolicany (95 – Slovakia U20 – 3.58 – N/A – Undrafted)

Defence: Patrik Bacik (95 – Slovakia U20 – 0-3-3 – Undrafted), Erik Cernak (97 – HC Kosice (Slovakia) – 4-2-6 – 2015 Draft Eligible), Marco Hochel (95 – Slovakia U20 – 1-0-1 – Undrafted), Matus Holenda (95 – Slovakia U20 – 0-0-0 – Undrafted), Christian Jaros (96 – Luela (SHL) – 0-1-1 – 2015 Draft Eligible), Dominik Jendrol (95 – Slovakia U20 – 1-1-2 – Undrafted), Branislav Pavuk (95 – Slovakia U20 – 1-1-2 – Undrafted), Mislav Rosandic (95 – HC Banska Bystrica (Slovakia) – 0-5-5 – Undrafted)

Forwards: Radovan Bondra (97 – Slovakia U20 – 5-5-10 – 2015 Draft Eligible), Peter Cehlarik (95 – Lulea (SHL) – 4-9-13 – Boston), Michal Kabac (95 – Slovakia U20 – 0-3-3 – Undrafted), Patrik Koys (95 – Slovakia U20 – 5-3-8 – Undrafted), Robert Lantosi (95 – Vasteras (Allsvenskan) – 1-1-2 – Undrafted), Matej Paulovic (95 – Muskegon (USHL) – 9-18-27 – Dallas), Samuel Petras (95 – Slovakia U20 – 2-3-5 – Undrafted), Dominik Rehak (95 – Slovakia U20 – 1-3-4 – Undrafted), Martin Reway (95 – Sparta Praha (Czech) – 5-16-21 – Montreal), Pavol Skalicky (95 – Slovakia U20 – 4-2-6 – Undrafted), David Soltes (95 – Prince George (WHL) – 9-8-17 – Undrafted), Matus Sukel (96 – Slovakia U20 – 5-5-10 – Undrafted)

There are some interesting pieces here such as Reway and Paulovic, but it looks like Slovakia is in line for another early exit. Perhaps at one point they will sneak back into the medal round discussion, but that seems like a long way off.

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5) Germany (Last Year: Ninth Place – Best Finish: Fifth Place in 1981)

Goalies: Florian Proske (96 – Helibronner Falken (DEL2) – 3.59 – 3-10-0 – Undrafted), Kevin Reich (95 – Green Bay (USHL) – 2.81 – 6-5-1 – Undrafted), Ilya Sharipov (95 – EC Salzburg II (MHL) – 3.05 – 8-8-9 – Undrafted)

Defence: Tim Bender (95 – SC Riessersee (DEL2) – 4-5-9 – Undrafted), Patrick Kurz (96 – Ravensburg (DEL2) – 0-4-4 – Undrafted), Jonas Muller (95 – Eisbaren Berlin (DEL) – 1-4-5 – Undrafted), Janik Moser (95 – Ohio State (NCAA ) – 0-1-1 – Undrafted), Dorian Saeftel (95 – Heilbronner Falken (DEL 2) – 1-2-3 – Undrafted), David Trinkberger (96 – Muskegon (USHL) – 2-2-4 – 2015 Draft Eligible), Fabio Wagner (95 – ERC Ingolstadt (DEL) – 0-0-0 – Undrafted), Kai Wissmann (96 – Dresdner Eislowen (DEL2) – 0-3-3 – Undrafted)

Forwards: Andreas Eder (96 – EC Salzburg II (MHL) – 17-18-35 – Undrafted), Markus Eisenschmid (95 – Medicine Hat (WHL) – 7-11-18 – Undrafted), Vladislav Filin (95 – EC Salzburg II (MHL) – 7-5-12 – Undrafted), Dominik Kahun (95 – EHC Munchen (DEL) – 1-2-3 – Undrafted), Maximilian Kammerer (96 – EC Salzburg II (MHL) – 4-8-12 – Undrafted), Marc Michaelis (95 – Green Bay (USHL) – 0-2-2 – Undrafted), Fabio Pfohl (95 – Kolner Haie (DEL) – 1-1-2 – Undrafted), Marc Schmidpeter (95 – ERC Ingolstadt (DEL) – 1-2-3 – Undrafted), Nico Sturm (95 – Austin (USHL) – 4-11-15 – Undrafted), Frederik Tiffels (95 – Western Michigan (NCAA) – 7-4-11 – Undrafted), Parker Tuomie (95 – Sioux Falls (USHL) – 5-9-14 – Undrafted), Manuel Wiederer (96 – Straubing (DEL) – 1-0-1 – Undrafted)

If Leon Draisaitl wasn’t trapped in the Edmonton Oilers Tire Fire, I may be tempted to put Germany in fourth place. However, that didn’t happen and it will probably be another tough go-around for this team. It will be nice to see Kahun and Tiffels team up again though.

Group B

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1) Russia (Last Year: Bronze Medal – Last Gold Medal: 2011)

Goalies: Denis Kostin (95 – Avangard Omsk (KHL) – 1.72 – 4-2-1 – Undrafted), Igor Shesterkin (95 – Kareliya (VHL) – 1.72 – N/A – NY Rangers), Ilya Sorokin (95 – CSKA Moscow (KHL) – 3.25 – 4-11-1 – NY Islanders)

Defence: Alexander Bryntsev (95 – Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (KHL) – 0-0-0 – Undrafted), Nikita Cherepanov (95 – Loko Yaroslavl (MHL) – 2-9-11 – Undrafted), Vladislav Gavrikov (95 – Loko Yaroslavl (MHL) – 1-6-7 – Undrafted), Ziyat Paygin (95 – AK Bars Kazan (KHL) – 1-1-2 – Undrafted), Ivan Provorov (97 – Brandon (WHL) – 10-27-37 – 2015 Draft Eligible), Rushan Rafikov (95 – HK Rayzan (VHL) – 0-13-13 – Calgary), Rinat Valiyev (95 – Kootenay (WHL) – 5-20-25 – Toronto), Dmitri Yudin (95 – SKA St. Petersburg (KHL) – 1-4-5 – Undrafted)

Forwards: Ivan Barbashev (95 – Moncton (WHL) – 22-27-49 – St. Louis), Vladimir Bryukvin (95 – 2-3-5 – Dynamo Balashikha (VHL) – 2-3-5 – Undrafted), Pavel Buchnevich (95 – Severstal Cherepovets (KHL) – 10-11-21 – NY Rangers), Alexander Dergachyov (96 – SKA St. Petersburg (MHL) – 8-14-22 – 2015 Draft Eligible), Ivan Fishchenko (95 – Avangard Omsk (KHL) – 0-0-0 – Undrafted), Nikolai Goldobin (95 – HIFK (Liiga) – 6-5-11 – San Jose), Anatoli Golyshev (95 – Yekateriburg (KHL) – 8-8-16 – Undrafted), Vladislav Kamenev (96 – Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL) – 5-3-8 – Nashville), Vyacheslav Leshchenko (95 – 1-1-2 – Atlant Mytischi (MHL) – 2-4-6 – Undrafted), Maxim Mamin (95 – CSKA Moscow (KHL) – 1-1-2 – Undrafted), Alexander Sharov (95 – 2-1-3 – Lada Togliatti (KHL) – Undrafted), Sergey Tolchinsky (95 – Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) – 17-32-49 – Carolina)

Sure Andrei Vasilevskiy is now making cameos for Tampa Bay after being a goaltending god the last two years for Russia, and the defensive depth leaves a lot to be desired.

But my word, look at that forward core. This is a team that doesn’t even Nikita Scherbak (though that’s partly due to him and the Russian hockey brass not seeing eye to eye), Valentin Zykov (who’s injured) and Vladimir Tkachev (for reasons I don’t understand other than he got cut) on it.

This is probably my Russian (and Soo Greyhound player on the team) bias shining through, but I think this team can win the group. It will all depend on the game against Sweden on Dec. 29 though, which has clearly been moved away from New Year’s Eve as to not overshadow McJesus vs. Team Eichel.

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2) Sweden (Last Year: Silver Medal – Last Gold Medal: 2012)

Goalies: Fedrik Bergvik (95 – Frolunda U20 (Super Elite) – 2.67 – N/A – San Jose), Linus Soderstrom (96 – Djurgarden U20 (Super Elite) – 2.81 – N/A – NY Islanders), Samuel Ward (95 – Asploven (Allsvenskan) – 2.76 – 9-9-0 – Undrafted)

Defence: Sebastian Aho (96 – Skelleftea (SHL) – 0-4-4 – Undrafted), Julius Bergman (95 – London (OHL) – 4-16-20 – San Jose), Andreas Englund (96 – Djurgarden – 1-3-4 – Ottawa), Gustav Forsling (96 – Linkoping (SHL) – 3-2-5 – Vancouver), Robert Hagg (95 – Lehigh Valley (AHL) – 2-11-13 – Philadelphia), William Lagesson (96 – Dubuque (USHL) – 1-11-12 – Edmonton), Robin Norell (95 – Djurgarden (SHL) – 0-5-5 – Chicago)

Forwards: Anton Blidh (95 – Frolunda (SHL) – 0-0-0 – Boston), Leon Bristedt (95 – Minnesota (NCAA) – 2-2-4 – Undrafted), Adam Brodecki (95 – Brynas (SHL) – 5-9-14 – Undrafted), Jacob De La Rose (95 – Hamilton (AHL) – 3-2-5 – Montreal), Christoffer Ehn (96 – Frolunda U20 (Super Elite) – 6-7-13 – Detroit), Axel Holmstrom (96 – Skelleftea (SHL) – 5-7-12 – Detroit), Anton Karlsson (96 – Skelleftea U20 (Super Elite) – 8-6-14 – Arizona), Adrian Kempe (96 – Modo (SHL) – 4-11-15 – Los Angeles), Oskar Lindblom (96 – Brynas (SHL) – 4-5-9 – Philadelphia), Jens Looke (97 – Brynas (SHL) – 2-4-6 – 2015 Draft Eligible), William Nylander (96 – Modo (SHL) – 8-11-19 – Toronto), Victor Olofsson (95 – Modo (SHL) – 9-7-16 – Buffalo), Lucas Wallmark (95 – Lulea (SHL) – 4-9-13 – Carolina)

Given the amount of drafted players on this team, it’s probably foolish as heck to pick against Sweden. However, I have two issues that concern me.

One is the goaltending, and the fact I have no idea what they have up their sleeve. Ward was a hot mess against Canada (yes I know it’s an exhibition game but it was a comedy of errors at times) and they allowed 10 goals to the States in the final pre-tournament contest. That’s not very good if you want to considered a favourite to win it all.

My other concern is the mental mindset going into the tournament, especially for the older players. Sweden was favoured to win the finals the last two years but fell short. The loss at home to their biggest rivals in Finland last January has to still sting for everyone, and it might be hard to bounce back from that.

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3) Czech Republic (Last Year: Sixth Place – Last Gold Medal: 2001)

Goalies: Miroslav Svoboda (95 – HC Trinec U20 (Czech) – 2.61 – N/A – Undrafted), Vitek Vanecek (96 – HC Benatky Jizerou (Czech2) – 2.27 – N/A – Washington), Daniel Vladar (97 – HC Kladno U20 (Czech) – 2.88 – N/A – 2015 Draft Eligible)

Defence: Marek Baranek (95 – HC Litvinov U20 (Czech) – 8-8-16- Undrafted), Lukas Klok (95 – HC Vitkovice (Czech) – 0-2-2 – Undrafted), Jan Kostalek (95 – Rimouski (QMJHL) – 4-16-20 – Winnipeg), Dominik Masin (96 – Peterborough (OHL) – 5-8-13 – Tampa Bay), David Nemecek (95 – TPS U20 (SM-Liiga) – 0-7-7 – Undrafted), Jan Scotka (96 – HC Pardubice (Czech) – 1-4-5 – Undrafted), Jan Stencel (95 – HC Vitkovice (Czech) – 1-2-3 – Undrafted)

Forwards: Sebastian Gorcik (95 – 2-8-10 – Energie Karlovy Vary (MHL) – 2-8-10 – Undrafted), Ondrej Kase (95 – KLH Chomutov (Czech2) – 5-11-16 – Anaheim), David Kampf (95 – KLH Chomutov (Czech2) – 8-9-17 – Undrafted), Dominik Kubalik (95 – HC Plzen (Czech) – 3-3-6 – Los Angeles), Jan Mandat (95 – Val-d’Or (QMJHL) – 7-10-17 – Undrafted), David Pastrnak (96 – Providence (AHL) – 10-17-27 – Boston), Marek Ruzicka (95 – HC Trinec (Czech) – 4-1-5 – Undrafted), Michael Spacek (97 – HC Pardubice (Czech) – 3-5-8 – 2015 Draft Eligible), Daniel Vozenilek (96 – HC Pardubice (Czech) – 0-0-0 – Undrafted), Jakub Vrana (96 – Linkoping (SHL) – 9-7-16 – Washington), Pavel Zacha (97 – Sarnia (OHL) – 9-10-19 – 2015 Draft Eligible), Patrik Zdrahal (95 – HC Vitkovice (Czech) – 0-0-0 – Undrafted)

The Czechs are the sexy pick this year to make a shock run to the medal round, and I can see why. When you have Pastrnak, Vrana and Zacha in your lineup, you really can’t go wrong in the goal scoring department.

Now I would be fully behind the Czechs if Medicine Hat’s Marek Langhamer was still of age to play at this level, but he’s aged out and I’m not as high on the other goalies, though I’ve heard good things about Vanecek.

My other issue is the way the draw sets up for the Czechs. Barring something completely insane in both groups, they will probably have to play either the United States, Canada or Finland in the quarter-finals, and I don’t think they would be favoured in any of those contests. They may have a shot against Finland but they would need to stand on their heads in my opinion to knock off the two North American sides.

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4) Switzerland (Last Year: Seventh Place – Best Finish: Bronze Medal in 1998)

Goalies: Gauthier Descloux (96 – Red Ice (NLB) – 2.69 – N/A – Undrafted), Gilles Senn (96 – Davos U20 (Elite Jr. A) – 2.72 – N/A – Undrafted), Ludovic Waeber (96 – Gotteron U20 – 3.00 – N/A – Undrafted)

Defence: Phil Baltisberger (95 – Guelph (OHL) – 2-8-10 – Undrafted), Michael Fora (95 – Kamloops (WHL) – 4-16-20 – Undrafted), Edson Harlacher (96 – Kloten (NLA) – 0-0-0 – Undrafted), Simon Kindschi (96 – Davos (NLA) – 1-3-4 -Undrafted), Mirco Mueller (95 – San Jose (NHL) – 1-2-3), Yannick Rathgeb (95 – Plymouth (OHL) – 2-7-9 – Undrafted), Jonas Siegenthaler (97 – ZSC (NLA) – 0-2-2 – 2015 Draft Eligible)

Forwards: Marc Aeschlimann (95 – Davos U20 (Elite Jr. A) – 16-12-28 – Undrafted), Luca Fazzini (95 – Lugano (NLA) – 1-1-2 – Undrafted), Kevin Fiala (96 – HV71 (SHL) – 5-9-14 – Nashville), Jason Fuchs (95 – Ambri-Piotta (NLA) – 1-3-4 – Undrafted), Luca Hischier (95 – Visp (NLB) – 2-6-8 – Undrafted), Michael Hugli (95 – Zug U20 (Elite Jr. A) – 14-18-32 – Undrafted), Denis Malgin (97 – ZSC (NLA) – 2-5-7 – 2015 Draft Eligible), Timo Meier (96 – Halifax (QMJHL) – 21-25-46 – 2015 Draft Eligible), Noah Rod (96 – Geneve-Servette (NLA) – 1-3-4 – San Jose), Kris Schmidil (96 – Kelowna (WHL) – 5-12-17 – Undrafted), Kay Schweri (96 – Sherbrooke (QMJHL) – 7-40-47 – 2015 Draft Eligible), Pius Suter (96 – Guelph (OHL) – 19-13-32 – Undrafted), Tim Wieser (95 – Sherbrooke (QMJHL) – 30-14-44 – Undrafted)

Are you sure we can’t bring back Benjamin Conz in goal? This is another solid lineup for the Swiss with some high-end talent mixed in with Mueller and Fiala leading the charge. With that said, I don’t expect them to pull off any crazy results, though they will keep the field honest.

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5) Denmark (Last Year: First Place in Division I A (Promoted) – Best Finish: Tenth Place in 2008 and 2012)

Goalies: Nicolaj Henriksen (95 – Esbjerg (Denmark) – 4.59 – N/A – Undrafted), Thomas Lillie (96 – Vaxjo U20 (Super Elite) – 2.70 – N/A – Undrafted), George Sorensen (95 – Herning (Denmark) – 2.99 – N/A – Undrafted)

Defence: Victor Eskerod (95 – Gentofte (Denmark) – 0-0-0 – Undrafted), Sonny Hertzberg (95 – Oshawa (OHL) – 1-2-3 – Undrafted), Daniel Hansen (95 – Sonderjyske (Denmark) – 0-0-0 – Undrafted), Anders Krogsgaard (96 – Esbjerg (Denmark) – 3-1-4 – Undrafted), Mads Larsen (95 – Malmo U20 (Super Elite) – 2-6-8 – Undrafted), Mattias Lassen (96 – Rodovre (Denmark) – 0-1-1 – Undrafted), Daniel Nielsen (95 – Hvidovre (Denmark) – 4-7-11 – Undrafted)

Forwards: Mikkel Aagaard (95 – Niagara (OHL) – 5-10-15 – Undrafted), Matthias Asperup (95 – Malmo U20 (Super Elite) – 5-2-7 – Undrafted), Oliver Bjorkstrand (95 – Portland (WHL) – 21-19-40 – Columbus), Nikolaj Ehlers (96 – Halifax (QMJHL) – 16-31-47 – Winnipeg), Mads Eller (95 – Edmonton (WHL) – 3-11-14 – Undrafted), Jeppe Holmberg (96 – Esbjerg (Denmark) – 1-2-3 – Undrafted), Kristian Jensen (96 – Lulea U20 (Super Elite) – 8-5-13 – Undrafted), Marcus Nielsen (95 – Rungsted (Denmark) – 2-1-3 – Undrafted), Soren Nielsen (96 – Esbjerg (Denmark) – 2-1-3 – Undrafted), Nick Olesen (95 – Vaxjo U20 (Super Elite) – 5-4-9 – Undrafted), Andre Pison (95 – Wenatchee (NAHL) – 4-5-9 – Undrafted), Emil Rasmussen (95 – Rodovre (Denmark) – 1-2-3 – Undrafted), Alexander True (97 – Seattle (WHL) – 5-5-10 – 2015 Draft Eligible)

The Danes are coming off of a surprising run to the finals at the World Junior A Challenge earlier this month, where they lost to the United States in overtime. Despite coming up short in heartbreaking fashion, that tune-up may be the best thing for this team.

They have a pair of game-breakers in the lineup already in Ehlers and Bjorkstrand that will help them out immensely, and those that aren’t in the CHL now have the experience of playing on North American ice. They don’t have the depth to advance further, but they should hold their own.

Well now that we got the round-robin out of the way, let’s move on to the playoff rounds shall we.

Relegation Round

Germany v Denmark - International Friendly

Denmark over Germany: I had to use a men’s hockey photo since no junior matchups exist between these two according to Google Image Search. Anyways, the best-of-three affair should go the Danes way mainly because of Ehlers and Bjorkstrand leading the way. It will be a bummer to see Germany get knocked out again, but they will return before long.

Quarter Finals

Kyle Okposo, Robert Mayer, Luca Sbisa

United States over Switzerland: Good lord how old is this photo? When it comes to this year’s meeting, the States are just way too strong for the Swiss to put up much of a fight in my opinion.

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Sweden over Finland: As much as I want the Motherland to go on another big run, I think Sweden has enough fire in the tank to get a measure of revenge. With that said, Juuse Saros will probably make 45 saves or something crazy.

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Russia over Slovakia: I’m calling it now. My boy Tolchinsky’s scoring a hat-trick in this one. Watch, he’ll be held scoreless and Slovakia will pull off the upset.

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Canada over Czechs: This one will probably be decided by Canada’s depth, but if they struggle, the top-line talent for the Czechs may make this one much closer than everyone is expecting.

Semi Finals

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United States over Sweden: If Sweden’s goaltending issues aren’t as bad as I think they are, this might be a dandy of a game. In the end though, I think the offensive weapons that the Americans have will be too much for Sweden to deal with.

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Canada over Russia: Again, this is another pick that comes down to team depth. The top Russian players can easily match up with the Canadians, but as you get further down the line-up, the hosts have the upper hand.

Bronze Medal

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Russia over Sweden: Since they met in the 2011 semis, these two countries have in my opinion surpassed Canada and the United States as the best head-to-head matchup during the week. That will probably change this year, but these two should put on a whale of a show for bronze. In the end, I decided to go with the team that has a Greyhounds player on it.

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Gold Medal

Canada over USA: The national crisis is over! As I’ve stated earlier, I can see this going either way, but I think being at home and having a slight advantage on defence will turn things in Canada’s favour. Either way, this is going to be a lot of fun to watch.

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