The Canucks haven’t sent this many prospects since the 2010 edition of the tournament, where Jordan Schroeder won gold for the United States, while Peter Andersson and Anton Rodin won bronze for Sweden.
However, this year feels a bit more like 2006, another year the Canucks saw a trio of draft picks participate at the event. You had the most recent first-rounder playing on Team Canada, Luc Bourdon. You had your youngest goaltending prospect, who happened to play at Boston College, earning the number one job between the pipes for the United States in Cory Schneider. And to round things out, you had the defenceman that not many people heard about playing for Sweden, Alexander Edler.
This year the Canucks will send their most recent first-rounder, Jake Virtanen, who will play for Canada. Their youngest goaltending prospect, Thatcher Demko of Boston College, will suit up for the United States, while little-known Gustav Forsling has cracked the Swedish roster.
Canucks.com breaks down everything you need to know to get you primed for Boxing Day.
Jake Virtanen, Team Canada
Calgary Hitmen, WHL
1st round, 6th overall, in 2014
It appears as though the power-forward will be in a secondary scoring role, perhaps on an energy line with Frederik Gauthier and Lawson Crouse. With the Domi-Reinhart-Duclair and Ritchie-McDavid-Lazar lines already cemented themselves as the Top 6, look for Virtanen and his line-mates to establish a physical presence every night, while also chipping in with the odd goal. At 6-foot-1 and 208-pounds, Virtanen is actually the smallest on his line as Gauthier stands 6-foot-4 and 215-pounds, while Crouse measures in at 6-foot-4, 211-pounds. Virtanen is the third youngest player on the Canadian roster.
Canada Schedule (all times PST)
Friday, December 26 (5:00pm): vs. Slovakia (TSN)
Saturday, December 27 (5:00pm): vs. Germany (TSN)
Monday, December 29 (5:00pm): vs. Finland (TSN)
Wednesday, December 31 (1:00pm): vs. United States (TSN)
Thatcher Demko, United States
Boston College, NCAA
2nd round, 36th overall, in 2014
Demko looks to be the man between the pipes for the United States this time around. The San Diego, California product was the third goalie for the United States last year, where he was able to take in all the experiences of the tournament, even keeping a journal that he can look back on to get himself prepared this year. He has a talented team in front of him that can score a lot of goals, but the pressure will be on Demko on New Year’s Eve when they take on Canada.
United States Schedule (all times PST)
Friday, December 26 (12:00pm): vs. Finland (TSN4/5)
Sunday, December 28 (5:00pm): vs. Germany (TSN2)
Monday, December 29 (1:00pm): vs. Slovakia (TSN)
Wednesday, December 31 (1:00pm): vs. Canada (TSN)
Gustav Forsling, Sweden
Linköpings HC, SHL
5th round, 126th overall, in 2014
The 18-year-old is already playing against men in the Swedish Hockey League and is tied for the lead in goals among defencemen on his Linköpings club. Forsling netted a couple goals for Sweden in pre-tournament action, including one against Canada on Sunday. Look for Forsling to be a big factor on the always stellar Swedish power-play. The 6-foot, 181-pounder led all defencemen in goals at the 2014 Under-18 Championship with four in seven games.
Sweden Schedule (all times PST)
Friday, December 26 (2:00pm): vs. Czech Republic (TSN3)
Saturday, December 27 (10:00am): vs. Denmark (TSN)
Monday, December 29 (2:00pm): vs. Russia (TSN2)
Wednesday, December 31 (10:00am): vs. Switzerland (TSN)