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World Junior Championship preview

...four Canucks prospects will battle it out in Czech Republic

by Canucks staff @Canucks / Vancouver Canucks

The World Juniors kick off in the Czech Republic on Thursday morning with the world's best U20 players competing for the coveted title.

The Canucks will be well represented with four members of the organization taking part. Given that the event with take place in Ostrava and Trinec, Czech Republic, it can be hard to keep track of when and how the prospects played - so this is your guide to get you ready for tracking the four future-Canucks.

**All times listed are Pacific Standard Time**

Vasili Podkolzin

The Canucks top pick from this past draft will represent Russia for the second time at this event. Last season, Podkolzin played a fourth line role last season that saw him win a bronze medal. This year, the Russians have their eye on a gold medal and Podkolzin will be a big part of their offensive attack and if their exhibition play is any indication of things to come, Podkolzin should rack up some points.

In two games this past week, the 10th overall selection scored one goal and assisted on four more as a key cog of the Russians top line.

Canucks fans will want to make it a priority to see the hulking winger at this event.

Russia's preliminary schedule is as follows:

Date

Opponent

Time

26-Dec

Czech Republic

6:00 AM PT

28-Dec

Canada

10:00 AM PT

29-Dec

United States

10:00 AM PT

31-Dec

Germany

6:00 AM PT

Nils Hoglander

Nils Hoglander will be a big part of the Swedish attack this year.

After being a late cut last season, Hoglander will be deployed as a top-six for a team looking to rebound after failing to make the Semi-Finals a year ago. The Canucks prospect has made some positive strides this season in the Swedish Hockey League and will look to make a statement at this event.

Hoglander scored two goals in a preliminary game agains the Czech Republic and then followed that up with an assist in Sweden's final tuneup game against the Americans.

Sweden's preliminary schedule:

Date

Opponent

Time

26-Dec

Finland

10:00 AM PT

28-Dec

Switzerland

10:00 AM PT

30-Dec

Kazakhstan

6:00 AM PT

31-Dec

Slovakia

6:00 AM PT

Toni Utunen

Toni Utunen was the hero for the Finn's last year after scoring the overtime winner against Canada in the Quarterfinals. Finland was able to follow that up with a victory over Switzerland and United States to capture a gold medal.

Utunen will play a similar role this year as he did twelve months ago - a regular shift as bottom four defenceman and some time on the penalty kill. He does not play a flashy game but makes his mark by making the right play more often than not.

Finland's schedule to start the tournament:

Date

Opponent

Time

26-Dec

Finland

10:00 AM PT

28-Dec

Slovakia

6:00 AM PT

29-Dec

Kazakhstan

6:00 AM PT

31-Dec

Switzerland

10:00 AM PT

Karel Plasek

Finally, is 2019 6th round pick Karel Plasek playing for the host country.

Like Podkolzin, this is Plasek's second World Juniors and will look to make a bigger impact this year. The shifty winger is expected to play a middle six role. Although he was held off the scoresheet in the Czech's preliminary games against Sweden and Slovakia, Plasek has thrived in that role thus far for the Czech Republic in the various events that have already happened this season.

The Czech's have it tough in Group B but could be a team that could potentially upset a team or two in the playoff rounds.

You can catch Plasek's games at these times:

Date

Opponent

Time

26-Dec

Russia

6:00 AM PT

28-Dec

Germany

6:00 AM PT

30-Dec

United States

10:00 AM PT

31-Dec

Canada

10:00 AM PT

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