While Finland continues to celebrate a surprise victory at the 2014 IIHF U20 World Championship last week, Blackhawks fans half a world away can also rejoice at the fantastic showing by the future of the club. The organization had four draft picks from 2012 and 2013 at the tournament representing three countries, two of whom won medals with their teams. Corey Pronman of ESPN Insider's NHL Draft Blog handed Chicago's group of prospects an overall grade of A- (subscription required), one of five teams in the upper eschelon along with Nashville, Washington, Buffalo and Montreal.
Teuvo Teravainen, the 2012 first-round selection who captained Team Finland to the gold medal, not only led the competition with 15 points (2G, 13A) in seven games, but was also a top penalty-killer for his team. "His offensive hockey sense is off the charts, as Teuvo makes incredibly quick reads, sees the entire ice very well, and always knows where to put the puck," Pronman wrote. "His level of puck skills is also very high."
As a defensive-first blueliner for Sweden, silver medalist and 2013 draft pick Robin Norell didn't put up headline-grabbing stats, but his steadiness stood out. Pronman evaluated Norell as "Very good in his own end.... He is a great skater who is tough on his checks, and was great on the penalty kill for Sweden."
The American duo of Ryan Hartman (drafted in 2013) and Vincent Hinostroza (2012) were eliminated by Russia in the quarterfinals, but nevertheless made their mark on the tournament. Hartman won a gold medal with Team USA last year while playing a checking role, but was leaned on offensively this time around. "He showed a lot of skill and creativity," Pronman said. "Hartman also has the agitating element to his game, but the offensive skill shined through, which makes him desirable as an NHL prospect." Hartman finished the tournament with four points (2G, 2A) in five games.
Hinostroza, meanwhile, saw limited time on the fourth line and took some power-play shifts as well, compiling five points (3G, 2A) in five games. Pronman wrote, "Hinostroza has been one of the top freshmen in the country in the NCAA, and he showed flashes of that at this tournament. He's a very speedy forward with great vision."