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PROSPECTS: Panthers well represented in quarterfinals of World Juniors

Panthers have five prospects still in play after tournament's preliminary round

by Jameson Olive @JamesonCoop /

With the preliminary round in the books, the Florida Panthers still have five prospects vying for gold heading into the quarterfinals of the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship on Wednesday.

After an intense opening week of action at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Mackie Samoskevich (United States), Kasper Puutio (Finland), Ludvig Jansson (Sweden), Jakub Kos (Czechia) and Sandis Vilmanis (Latvia) have all moved on after competing in a four-game round robin.

In the quarterfinals, Canada (4-0-0), which took the top spot in Group A, will face Switzerland (1-3-0), Finland (2-1-1) will face Germany (2-2-0), Sweden (3-1-0) will face Latvia (1-3-0), and the reigning champion United States (4-0-0), which topped group B, will take on Czechia (1-2-1).

Florida's first-round pick in 2021 (24th overall), Samoskevich, who will be returning to Michigan for his sophomore season in 2022-23, has been very active up front for the United States while dishing out three assists in four games to open up the annual best-on-best U20 tournament.

Looking for his second medal at the World Juniors after winning bronze with Anton Lundell in 2021, Puutio, a fifth-round pick (153rd overall) in 2020, leads Finland's defensemen in scoring with five points (three goals, two assists) in four games, including registering a goal and two assists in a 9-3 win over Czechia on Sunday.

Selected by the Panthers in the fourth round (125th overall) of the 2022 NHL Draft earlier this summer, Jansson has manned the blue line in three games for Sweden, while Kos, a sixth-round pick (184th overall) in 2021, has recorded one assist in four games with Czechia.

Part of one of the best underdog stories of the tournament thus far, Vilmanis, a fifth-round pick (157th overall) in 2022, helped Latvia secure a 5-2 win over Czechia on Sunday. For Latvia, that convincing win marked the nation's first victory at the World Juniors since Jan. 4, 2012.

With four of the aforementioned five players going head-to-head during the quarterfinals, the Panthers are guaranteed to have at least two prospects advance to the semifinals on Friday.

The full schedule for the remainder of the World Juniors is as follows:

Aug. 17

Finland (Puutio) vs. Germany, 12 p.m. ET

Sweden (Jansson) vs. Latvia (Vilmanis), 3:30 p.m. ET

Canada vs. Switzerland, 7 p.m. ET

United States (Samoskevich) vs. Czechia (Kos), 10:30 p.m. ET

Aug. 19

Semifinal 1, 4 p.m. ET

Semifinal 2, 8 p.m. ET

Aug. 20

Third-place game, 4 p.m. ET

Championship game, 8 p.m. ET

All games will be broadcast on NHL Network.

For more information on Panthers prospects, follow @FlaPanthers on Twitter.

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