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World Juniors

United States predicted to repeat as World Junior Championship winner

NHL.com writers pick medalists, best players for tournament

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

The United States will repeat as champion at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship.

That's the prediction of NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor Adam Kimelman and staff writer Mike G. Morreale, as well as LNH.com staff writer Guillaume Lepage.

All three believe the U.S., which defeated Canada 5-4 in a shootout to win the gold medal at the 2017 WJC at Bell Centre in Montreal, will become the first team to win consecutive tournaments since Canada won the last of its five straight championships in 2009.

This year the U.S. is predicted to defeat Sweden in the final game. Canada was the choice to win the bronze medal.

The writers also made their picks for best goaltender, best forward, best defenseman and top 2018 NHL Draft-eligible performer.

The tournament will be held at KeyBank Center and HarborCenter in Buffalo starting Tuesday and running through Jan. 5. There also will be an outdoor game between the U.S. and Canada at New Era Field, home of the Buffalo Bills, on Dec. 29.

The U.S., Canada, Finland, Slovakia and Denmark are in Group A. Sweden, Russia, Czech Republic, Switzerland and Belarus are in Group B.

Preliminary-round play ends Dec. 31. The top four finishers in each group advance to the quarterfinals Jan. 2, and then the semifinals are Jan. 4. The bronze-medal and gold-medal games are Jan. 5.

 

KIMELMAN WJC PREDICTIONS

Group A winner: United States

Group B winner: Sweden

Bronze Medalist: Canada

Silver Medalist: Sweden

Gold Medalist: United States

Surprise Star: Aleksei Heponiemi, C, Finland (Florida Panthers)

Best Goaltender: Jake Oettinger, United States (Dallas Stars)

Best Defenseman: Rasmus Dahlin, Sweden (2018 draft eligible)

Best Forward: Eeli Tolvanen, Finland (Nashville Predators)

Top 2018 NHL Draft eligible player: Rasmus Dahlin, D, Sweden

 

MORREALE WJC PREDICTIONS

Group A winner: United States

Group B winner: Sweden

Bronze Medalist: Canada

Silver Medalist: Sweden

Gold Medalist: United States

Surprise Star: Erik Brannstrom, D, Sweden (Vegas Golden Knights)

Best Goaltender: Carter Hart, Canada (Philadelphia Flyers)

Best Defenseman: Rasmus Dahlin, Sweden (2018 draft eligible)

Best Forward: Kailer Yamamoto, United States (Edmonton Oilers)

Top 2018 NHL Draft eligible player: Rasmus Dahlin, D, Sweden

 

LEPAGE WJC PREDICTIONS

Group A winner: United States

Group B winner: Sweden

Bronze Medalist: Canada

Silver Medalist: Sweden

Gold Medalist: United States

Surprise Star: Cale Makar, D, Canada (Colorado Avalanche)

Best Goaltender: Carter Hart, Canada (Philadelphia Flyers)

Best Defenseman: Rasmus Dahlin, Sweden (2018 draft eligible)

Best Forward: Casey Mittelstadt, United States (Buffalo Sabres)

Top 2018 NHL Draft eligible player: Rasmus Dahlin, D, Sweden

 

NHL NETWORK WJC BROADCAST SCHEDULE

Dec. 26

Czech Republic vs. Russia, 12. p.m. ET

Canada vs. Finland, 4 p.m. ET

Denmark vs. U.S., 8 p.m. ET

Dec. 27

Belarus vs. Sweden, 8 a.m. ET (tape delay)

Switzerland vs. Belarus, 3 p.m. ET

Slovakia vs. Canada, 7 p.m. ET

Dec. 28

Finland vs. Denmark, 12 p.m. ET

Sweden vs. Czech Republic, 4 p.m. ET

U.S. vs. Slovakia, 8 p.m. ET

Dec. 29

Russia vs. Switzerland, 6 a.m. ET (tape delay)

Belarus vs. Russia, 12 p.m. ET

Canada vs. U.S., 3 p.m. ET

Dec. 30

Czech Republic vs. Belarus, 12 p.m. ET

Finland vs. Slovakia, 4 p.m. ET

Denmark vs. Canada, 8 p.m. ET

Dec. 31

Sweden vs. Switzerland, 7 a.m. ET (tape delay)

Switzerland vs. Czech Republic, 12 p.m. ET

U.S. vs. Finland, 4 p.m. ET

Russia vs. Sweden, 8 p.m. ET

Jan. 1

Slovakia vs. Denmark, 1 p.m. ET (tape delay)

Jan. 2

Quarterfinals

Jan. 4

Semifinals

Jan. 5

Bronze-medal game, 4 p.m. ET

Gold-medal game, 8 p.m. ET

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