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NHL.com's Online Magazine
Dec/2002, Vol. 1, Issue 3
  • World Junior Championships test mettle, moxie of young stars

  • Top young talent commands center stage at WJC

  • WJC gives young players a glimpse of a professional future

  • Check out our list of the top 10 World Junior Championship players

  • Flyers' Clarke suffers sling and arrows for a good cause

  • Behind the scenes: The NHL hosts an outdoor All-Star Block Party

  • Sportsmanship a core value for Dan Bylsma

  • Photo of the month

  • Back issues of Impact

    Eric Lindros
    In both 1991 and 1992, Lindros was his team's leading scorer, netting 17 points in 1991 and 10 points in his final appearance. If was the first of many times he would wear the Maple Leaf in international play.

    NHL.com's top 10 WJC performers
    Check out our list of the very best World Junior Championship players.
    By Shawn P. Roarke

    The World Junior Championships always have been a breeding ground for the National Hockey League's biggest stars.

    The intense two-week tournament features the best under-20 players competing against one another for personal glory and national pride. For fans, and to a lesser extent scouts, it is often the first chance to see the game's next franchise players strut their stuff in a truly competitive atmosphere.

    Most of today's stars showcased their skills for the first time in World Junior competition, a tournament that has been host to all-world players like Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky, Brian Leetch, Doug Weight and Jaromir Jagr among others.

    Still, some players at the World Juniors, to be held this year from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Nova Scotia, have stood out more than others. Amazingly, not all have gone on to NHL superstardom.

    With that said, here is NHL.com's list of the 10 best performers in World Junior competition since 1974.

    10. Doug Weight, United States -- No American forward has ever been named the tournament's best forward, but Weight came awful close in 1991, potting 14 assists for Team USA as it finished in fourth place. Weight's 14 assists that year led all players and tied for second all-time with Finland's Esa Keskinen. Only Peter Forsberg, who had 24 assists two years later, has managed more helpers than Weight fashioned in 1991.

    9. Eric Lindros, Canada -- Lindros played in three junior championships, touted as Canada's best junior player since Wayne Gretzky. He did not disappoint, setting his nation's record for assists in WJC play with 19 -- good for fourth on the all-time list of players from all nations. In both 1991 and 1992, Lindros was his team's leading scorer, netting 17 points in 1991 and 10 points in his final appearance. Lindros was named the tournament's best forward in 1991, leading Canada to a gold medal before the home country's fans in Saskatoon, Alberta.

    8. Kenny Jonsson, Sweden -- Now a mainstay with the Islanders, Jonsson first drew attention with outstanding play in three World Junior Championships for Sweden. In 1993, Jonsson debuted, making the All-star Team after a two-goal performance in seven games for the second-place Swedes. The next year Jonsson had three goals and five assists in seven games to earn the nod as the tournament's best defenseman, just edging Finland's Kimmo Timonen. Also in 1994, Jonsson went on to represent his country in the World Championships and the Olympic Games.

    Doug Weight
    Before representing Sweden in the Olympic Games, Naslund, in the 1993 WJC, scored 13 goals and 11 assists in one of the tournament's most dominating performances in recent memory.
    7. Esa Tikkanen, Finland -- Tikkanen began his unparalleled professional hockey career, with a three-year coming out party at the World Junior Championships for Finland. In 1983, Tikkanen opened his World Junior account with two goals and three assists. In 1984, Tikkanen had eight goals in seven games as Finland won silver. In 1985, his final year of eligibility, Tikkanen had seven goals and 12 assists in seven games to earn a berth on the tournament's All-Star Team. Tikkanen went on to win five Stanley Cups as a member of the Edmonton Oilers and the New York Rangers.

    6. Markus Naslund, Sweden -- Naslund was one of the top junior players of his generation, although he was often overshadowed by Forsberg. In 1991, Naslund burst onto the scene by scoring 14 goals in six games for Sweden in European Junior Championship play. That was followed by eight goals and two assists in seven games in the 1992 WJC. In 1993, Naslund scored 13 goals and 11 assists in one of the tournament's most dominating performances in recent memory. Naslund was named to the WJC All-Star Team, but lost out in the best forward vote to teammate Forsberg.