The IIHF World Junior Championship is traditionally the tournament most NHL scouts point to as a barometer to gauge how far a prospect has progressed among his peers.
If that's the case, Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen must be brimming with confidence after witnessing his players excel for their respective countries at the 2014 WJC in Malmo, Sweden.
Five recent draft picks were very productive in last year's tournament, including forwards Alexander Wennberg of Sweden, Marko Dano of Slovakia and Kerby Rychel and Josh Anderson of Canada, and goalie Oscar Dansk of Sweden. Wennberg, Rychel and Dano were chosen No. 14, No. 19 and No. 27, respectively, in the 2013 NHL Draft. Dansk was selected No. 31 and Anderson No. 95 in 2012.
Additionally, the 2014 WJC Division I Group A tournament featured another diamond in the rough for the Blue Jackets in right wing Oliver Bjorkstrand of Denmark. All Bjorkstrand did was earn recognition as the top forward at the tournament after he had four goals and six points in five games to help his country qualify for the 2015 WJC in Montreal and Toronto.
"I think it means something when kids get a chance to win at that younger level; it helps their confidence down the road because of that winning attitude," Blue Jackets director of amateur scouting Paul Castron said. "We've kind of lacked that type of stuff. So anytime you win, it's good."