The World Junior Championship is one of the biggest events in the world of hockey; a tournament where players under twenty years of age can represent their country and where the stars of tomorrow come out to shine. This year’s World Junior Championship will take place in Ufa, Russia with games played at the Ufa Arena and Ice Palace Salavat Yulaev. Five Florida Panthers prospects along with a former JR Panther will participate in the tournament to win Gold for their respective countries.
The 2012 World Junior Championship in Calgary and Edmonton, saw Sweden end a 31-year drought by defeating Russia in 1-0 in overtime to win gold. Canada missed the finals for the first time in 11 years, but were able to defeat Finland for the bronze by a 4-0 final.
2012 WJC Result: Third Place (Bronze)
Florida’s first round (third overall) selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Jonathan Huberdeau has been one of the most talked about prospects in all of the NHL. After highly impressive campaigns with the Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL), including winning a Memorial Cup and being named MVP, Huberdeau will be participating in his second World Junior Championship after beating Finland for the Bronze Medal in 2012. An alternate captain for Canada in this tournament, Huberdeau tied for second in points on Team Canada with nine points (1-8-9) in six games, as well as led Team Canada in assists with eight in Calgary and Edmonton. Currently, the captain of Saint John, Huberdeau has a team leading 45 points (16-29-45) in 30 games played. During this season Huberdeau broke the all-time points record for Saint John of 251 and presently sits at 257 points (104-153-257).
2012 WJC Result: Seventh Place
Florida’s second round (33rd overall) selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft
Rocco Grimaldi of the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux (WCHA) missed the majority of his first collegiate season in 2011-2012 due to injury. Fast forward to the 2012-13 season and you couldn’t tell. The red shirt Freshman, Grimaldi is tied for second on UND in points, with 16 (7-9-16) but is tied for team lead in goals with seven. Grimaldi was recently named Red Baron WCHA Rookie of the Week for the week of Dec. 9 for exceptional play and becoming ranked second in WCHA rookie scoring. The 5’6”, California native is not only his first season of College Hockey, but in his first World Junior Championship as well. He has plenty of experience on the international stage however, competing for the US national teams prior to college.
Florida’s third round (64th overall) selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft
Vincent Trocheck has had a stellar season for the Saginaw Spirit (OHL). Serving as team captain, the Pittsburgh, native has been in the OHL top 10 in scoring all season long. During this 2012-13 campaign, Trocheck broke the all-time Saginaw assist record of 134, and is eight points shy of breaking the all-time points record of 247. This season, Trocheck has 50 points in 35 games played and continues to set the record for all-time assists as he presently boasts 146 career assists (94-146-240). Trocheck will play in his first World Junior Championship.
Philadelphia’s third round (78th overall) selection in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft
While not a Panthers prospect, Shayne Gostisbehere does have South Florida and Panther roots as he started honing his game in the JR Panther program. The Margate, FL native, who is taking part in his first World Junior Championships is considered an offensive defenseman. In 56 games with Union College, Gostisbehere has posted 35 points from the blue line, including 10 goals in a highly competitive ECAC league, playing a lot of minutes against players that are in their 20s.
2012 WJC Result: First Place (Gold)
Florida’s second round (59th overall) selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft
Rasmus Bengtsson of Landskrona, Sweden has been one of the top defenseman playing for the Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL) this season. Bengtsson not only played junior hockey in Sweden for Rogle, but for it’s parent club in the Swedish Elite League as well. Bengtsson has now transitioned to playing the North American style of game to ready himself for NHL hockey in the future. In 19 games for Muskegon this season he has seven points (0-7-7). Bengtsson will be in his first World Junior Championship.
2012 WJC Result: Second Place (Silver)
Florida’s fifth round (124th overall) selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft
Yaroslav Kosov has a year of professional hockey in the KHL under his belt. Now in his second season with Metallurg Magnitogorsk, the 6’3”, 220 lbs winger has three points (2-1-3) in 29 games played. He will compete in his second World Junior Championship after winning silver with Russia in 2012 and finishing with two goals in five games.