The future of the NHL will be evident Monday night on NHL Network-U.S. and TSN during the semifinals of the 2011 World Junior Championship. The signature game is USA-Canada at 7:30 p.m. ET, while the puck drops for Russia-Sweden at 3:30 p.m. ET.
The tournament features some of the best under-20 players in the world, and in Monday's two games, there could be 27 first-round Entry Draft picks playing.
Russia will face Sweden. Russia pulled off the comeback of the tournament, led by Washington Capitals 2010 first-round pick Evgeni Kuznetsov. Trailing 3-1 with under 3 minutes to play, Kuznetsov and Los Angeles Kings prospect Maxim Kitsyn scored 2:03 apart to force overtime, and Kuznetsov won it at 6:44 of the extra session.
Sweden, which capped a perfect run through the preliminary round with a 6-5 shootout victory against Canada, is led by goaltender Robin Lehner, who made his NHL debut with the Ottawa Senators earlier this season. Nashville Predators prospect Patrick Cehlin leads the offense with 3 goals and 5 points.
Sweden also features defenseman Adam Larsson, projected to be a top-five pick at the 2011 Entry Draft.
The second semifinal (7:30 p.m. ET) features a rematch of last year's gold-medal game between the U.S. and Canada.
Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Ryan Johansen keyed Canada's 4-1 quarterfinal win against Switzerland on Sunday with a goal and a team-high nine shots.
Canada forward Brayden Schenn, who had 2 assists in eight games with the Los Angeles Kings earlier this season, leads the tournament with 7 goals and 16 points. He's 2 points shy of tying Dale McCourt's record for most points by a Canadian player in a single World Junior tournament.
Leading the way for the U.S. is goaltender Jack Campbell. The Dallas Stars 2010 first-round pick stopped 88 of 92 shots in four preliminary-round games, and has tournament-bests of a 1.03 goals-against average and .956 save percentage.
Campbell also was in net for the U.S. when it defeated Canada 6-5 in overtime in Saskatoon for the Team USA's first WJC gold medal since 2004.
The winners of the two semifinals will play at 7:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday in the gold-medal game. The losers will play for the bronze medal at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Both games today and Wednesday will be live on the NHL Network-U.S. and TSN.