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Road to the 2015 World Junior Championship

by Mike Lewis / Florida Panthers

With 2014 coming to a close, the hockey world takes a quick break from NHL action to turn their attention towards the future of the game. The next wave of NHL stars will take to the ice for the annual IIHF World Junior Championship. The WJC takes place in Canada this year, splitting time between Montreal and Toronto. Ten countries will come together for an international tournament for players under the age of 20.

With the upcoming 2015 NHL Entry Draft slated for South Florida in June, the World Junior Championship is a showcase for those players as well as some of the prospects that have already been selected at previous drafts.

The tournament begins on Dec. 26 featuring:

Denmark vs. Russia (1:00 pm EST)

Finland vs. USA (3:00 pm EST)

Czech Republic vs. Sweden (5:00 pm EST)

Canada vs. Slovakia (8:00 pm EST)

Click here for full schedule

PANTHERS PROSPECT TO WATCH – D Ian McCoshen

The Boston College blueliner will play in his second consecutive WJC tournament as a member of Team USA. Selected by Florida in the second round (31st overall) of the 2013 Draft, the 6’3”, 205-pound sophomore defenseman is developing into a strong two-way presence. In 16 games played, McCoshen has recorded five points (2-3—5), 24 PIMs and a plus-11 rating. Through 51 games at Boston College, McCoshen has notched 18 points (7-11—18).

CLASS OF 2015 – All eyes on…

Team Canada

C Connor McDavid – A player on levels comparable to Sidney Crosby during his junior days, McDavid has been projected to be the all but unanimous number one pick for the 2015 draft for quite some time.

Erie Otters (OHL)

Games Played: 18

Points: 51 (16-35—51)

PIMs: 26

+/- : 34

LW Lawson Crouse – Standing at an intimidating 6’4”, 211-pounds, the towering winger is a crushing hitter with the ability to tally points as well.

Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)

Games Played: 24

Points: 16 (12-4—16)

PIMs: 55

+/- : 0

Team USA

C Jack Eichel – An elite offensive force in the NCAA for Boston University, Eichel will challenge McDavid for the number one draft spot as the potential top-two picks will go head to head continuing the USA and Canadian World Junior rivalry this year.

Boston University (Hockey East)

Games Played: 16

Points: 27 (8-19—27)

PIMs: 10

+/- : 21

D Noah Hanifin – Balanced play, reliability and hockey IQ make Hanifin quite possibly the top defenseman in this year’s draft. A freshman at Boston College, Hanifin can produce offense just as well as he can shut down opponents, which he has proven in his first collegiate season.

Boston College (Hockey East)

Games Played: 17

Points: 7 (2-5 –7)

PIMs: 10

+/- : 3

Team Sweden

D Oliver Kylington - A smaller defenseman standing at 6’0”, 180-pounds, Kylington is a shifty, creative blueliner who possesses top-notch playmaking abilities.

Farjestads BK Karlstad (SHL)

Games Played: 17

Points: 5 (2-3—5)

PIMs: 2

+/- : 4

Team Finland

RW Mikko Rantanen – When Rantanen gets the puck, he’s pretty hard to knock off of it. Standing at 6’3”, 211-pounds, the Finnish winger plays a power forward style and is solid at both ends of the ice.

TPS Turku (SM-Liiga)

Games Played: 30

Points: 10 (1-9—10)

PIMs: 16

+/- : -3

Team Russia

D Ivan Provorov – Playing in the WHL this season for the Brandon Wheat Kings, Provorov has adjusted to the North American game quite well. Trusted in all situations, the Russian blueliner is a top-pairing player for Brandon and is just as effective offensively as he is defensively.

Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)

Games Played: 35

Points: 37 (10-27—37)

PIMs: 26

+/- : 14

Team Czech Republic

C Pavel Zacha – Despite his 6’3”, 210-pound frame, Zacha can play the game with speed. The Czech-born pivot has been producing offense steadily for the Sarnia Sting (OHL) and has had no fear of mixing things up physically.

Sarnia Sting (OHL)

Games Played: 21

Points: 19 (9-10—19)

PIMs: 41

+/-: 0

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