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World Juniors

5 breakout players at 2020 World Junior Championship

Addison, Fagemo among prospects who made big impression in under-20 tournament

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

The 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship featured several players stepping up and having strong efforts to lead their team.

Some of the players who excelled were expected to do so. Then there were others who went from role players to leading men.

Here are five breakout stars from the tournament.

Calen Addison, D, Canada

The Pittsburgh Penguins prospect played better as the games got bigger with six assists in three elimination-round games.

The 19-year-old defenseman assisted on all three of Canada's third-period goals in its 4-3 come-from-behind win against Russia in the championship game. His point shot bounced off both skates of forward Connor McMichael (Washington Capitals) and past goalie Amir Miftakhov (2020 Draft eligible) to start the rally from down 3-1 at 9:20 of the third.

Tweet from @TSN_Sports: Goal stands after review, and Connor McMichael has 🇨🇦 back within one!

He set up Barrett Hayton's (Arizona Coyotes) game-tying goal at 11:21 and then made the stretch pass that led to Akil Thomas' (Los Angeles Kings) winning goal at 16:02.

Addison played most of the tournament on the third pair at 5-on-5 but finished second among all defensemen with nine points (one goal, eight assists).


Samuel Fagemo, F, Sweden

Sweden was expecting to get a large piece of its offense from top 2020 NHL Draft prospects Lucas Raymond and Alexander Holtz, but it was Fagemo, a Kings prospect, who led all players at the tournament with eight goals and 13 points.

The 19-year-old forward isn't a big scorer with Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League, where he has 11 points (six goals, five assists) in 20 games. The hope is he can build off his strong tournament

"I want to be that guy," Fagemo told the Kings website. "I want the coaches to rely on me to produce. I want to create scoring chances and I want to score goals. It's a lot of fun and I like it."


Joel Hofer, G, Canada

After being passed over for a chance to impress as the World Junior Summer Showcase in July, the St. Louis Blues prospect played his way onto Canada's WJC radar with a strong first half of the season for Portland in the Western Hockey League.

Then when Hofer got the chance to play, replacing Nicolas Daws (2020 Draft eligible) in the second period against Russia on Dec. 28, he never let go of the position, playing every minute of the final five games. The 19-year-old finished with a 1.60 goals-against average and .939 save percentage in six games and was named the tournament's best goaltender. 

He made 35 saves against Russia in the championship game, including stopping all 10 shots he faced in the first period, including some on four Russia power plays.

"Nothing short of amazing, him coming in like that, taking over and really dominating the tournament," Hayton said. "He shut down a lot of games. Obviously tonight with those power plays, our penalty kill did an unbelievable job. They have such a good power play, they're going to get looks, but he hung in there, shut it down back there and is the backbone of our team."


Yegor Zamula, D, Russia

Zamula, a Philadelphia Flyers prospect who plays for Calgary in the Western Hockey League, was a bit of an unknown entering the tournament. By the end of it, Russia's coaching staff voted him its best player.

The 19-year-old led Russia in ice time at 22:23 per game and had five points (two goals, three assists). He scored Russia's first goal of the tournament by impressively dragging the puck around a Czech Republic player, and then added a second goal in a 4-3 loss.

Tweet from @lassialanen: Yegor Zamula gets Russia on the board. 2-1. #WorldJuniors #WJC2020

Tweet from @StevenEllisTHN: Yegor Zamula has his second goal of the game and it ties the game at three. #WJC2020

"He's poised with the puck," Russia assistant coach Igor Larionov told The Athletic during the tournament. "The way he sees the game and makes decisions ... he's a key guy on our blue line, and it would be nice to have one or two more guys like that on our blue line."


Trevor Zegras, F, United States

Zegras, an Anaheim Ducks prospect, was expected to be a secondary scoring option who could help on the power play. But his vision, bravado and puck skills earned him top-line ice time in all situations.

The 18-year-old led the tournament with nine assists, all primary, including a few that were highlight-reel worthy. There was the pass to Arthur Kaliyev (Kings) made as he was sliding on his backside against the Czech Republic. 

Tweet from @HeresYourReplay: 🚨 Arthur Kaliyev2-2🎥@TSN_Sports #WorldJuniors

There also was the spin-o-rama pass through the crease to Jack Drury (Carolina Hurricanes) later in the second against the Czech Republic that Drury later said was the best pass he'd ever received and compared it to a play Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks would make.

Tweet from @IIHFHockey: Beautiful spin-o-rama pass by @tzegras11 to Jack Drury and @usahockey takes the lead 3-2! #WorldJuniors

"He can do special things out there," Drury said. "He's a phenomenal player."

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