The 2015 World Junior Championship, an annual event organized by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) that runs from Dec. 26, 2014 to Jan. 5, 2015, brings together the top hockey playing nations’ best under-20 men’s players to compete, this year, in Montreal, Quebec and Toronto, Ontario.
With some of the most highly regarded under-20 men’s players taking to the ice, the WJC frequently serves as a tournament where both newly drafted and draft-eligible prospects can showcase their skills. Most recently, Preds rookie Filip Forsberg competed in the 2012 (Gold), 2013 (Silver) and 2014 (Silver) editions of the tournament with Team Sweden. Serving as the Swede’s captain in 2013 and 2014, Forsberg was named to the tournament’s All-Star Team in 2013 and was named MVP and Best Forward in 2014.
Other Preds players that have skated in this holiday season showcase in the past include:
Gabriel Bourque (2010, silver)
Ryan Ellis (2009, gold) (2010, silver) (2011, silver)
James Neal (2007, gold)
Mike Ribeiro (2000, bronze)
Derek Roy (2003, silver)
Shea Weber (2005, gold)
Matt Cullen (1996)
Seth Jones (2013, gold)
Eric Nystrom (2002) (2003)
Colin Wilson (2008) (2009)
Mattias Ekholm (2010, bronze)
Calle Jarnkrok (2011)
Olli Jokinen (1998, gold)
Roman Josi (2007) (2008) (2010)
Anton Volchenkov (2001) (2002, gold)
Dougherty Named to Team USA:
Beginning on Friday, Dec. 26, this year’s event features teams from Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States. The 10 teams are split into two groups for preliminary round competitions, with Group A (Finland, Canada, U.S, Slovakia and Germany) playing their opening games at Montreal’s Bell Centre and Group B (Sweden, Russia, Czech Republic, Switzerland and Denmark) competing at the Air Canada Centre.
Following the preliminary round-robin games, the top four teams from each group move on to the quarterfinals, followed by the semifinals and lastly the Bronze Medal and Gold Medal games. The quarterfinal matchups this year will be played at both venues, while the semifinal and Medal games will be hosted in Toronto’s Air Canada Centre.
Final rosters must be submitted to the IIHF by Dec. 25, but competing nations have already begun announcing their preliminary rosters.
Canada (last medal, bronze in 2012) – Preliminary roster announced Dec. 1
Canada announced the 29 players on their preliminary WJC roster on Monday, Dec. 1. While the roster does not include any Preds prospects, two 2015 Draft Eligible prospects in the likes of forwards Lawson Crouse and Connor McDavid are among the invitees. Additionally, seven of the players listed on the preliminary roster represented Canada at the 2014 WJC, where the Canadians fell in the bronze medal game to Russia, 2-1.
USA (last medal, gold in 2013) – Preliminary roster announced Dec. 2
Defenseman Jack Dougherty was the lone Preds prospect listed on the United States’ 30-player preliminary roster announced on Dec. 2. Dougherty, who was selected by Nashville with its third choice, 51st overall (second round) in the 2014 Draft, is currently in the midst of his freshman season at the University of Wisconsin. In eight games played this season, Dougherty has tallied two points (1g-1a).
Seven players on USA’s current roster are veterans of the 2014 WJC, five (Jack Eichel, Jeremy Bracco, Noah Hanifin, Zach Werenski and Brandon Carlo) are draft eligible in 2015 and one (Auston Matthews) is draft eligible in 2016.
(Photo Credit: USA Hockey/Nancie Battaglia)
Switzerland (last medal, 1998, bronze) – Preliminary Roster announced Dec. 4
Kevin Fiala, the Preds first choice, 11th overall (first round) in the 2014 Draft, was named to Switzerland’s 31-man preliminary roster, which was announced on Dec. 4. Currently, Fiala has 14 points (5g-9a) in 17 games played with Sweden’s HV71. Last year, as the youngest player on the Swiss WJC squad, Fiala was named one of the team’s best three players after tallying five points (1g-4a) in five games played. Additionally, he was just the third player in history to appear in the Under-18 World Championship, World Junior Championship and World Championship in the same year.
Fiala is one of four returning players named to the Swiss squad and one of just two players drafted by NHL teams (Noah Rod, San Jose Sharks). All 11 defensemen and three goaltenders named to Switzerland’s preliminary roster are draft eligible in 2015 and 14 of the 16 members of the forward corps are eligible.
Russia (last medal, bronze, 2014) – Preliminary Roster Announced Dec. 2
When Russia announced its 37-man preliminary roster on Dec. 2, Vladislav Kamenev, Nashville’s second choice, 42nd overall (second round), was among those named. Kamenev is currently playing in Russia with the Kontinenal Hockey League’s Metallurg Magnitogorsk where he has seven points (4g-3a) in 30 games played. While Kamenev has no prior WJC experience, the Orsk, Russia, native captained Russia’s team at the 2014 Under-18 World Championship.
Kamenev is one of 12 NHL prospects on Russia’s preliminary roster. The 12 NHL prospects includes two first round picks (Nikolay Goldobin, San Jose, 2014 and Nikita Zadorov, Buffalo, 2013) and Sergey Tolchinsky, who the Carolina Hurricanes signed as a free agent. Behind the two first-round draft choices, there are just two other Russian players who were drafted higher than Kamenev (Valentin Zykov, L.A Kings, 37th overall, 2013) and Ivan Barbashev (St. Louis Blues, 33rd overall, 2014).
Czech Republic (last medal, bronze, 2005) – Preliminary Roster Announced Dec. 5
The Czech Republic did not name any Preds prospects to its 32-man preliminary roster on Friday, Dec. 5. The defending bronze medalists’ roster includes nine NHL-drafted players, including forward David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins who participated in the Nashville Predators Rookie Tournament at Ford Ice Center in September. Pastrnak, who made his NHL debut with the Bruins on Nov. 24, will have to be loaned by the club to the junior national team in order to participate.
The remaining 23 players on the Czech roster, including three of four goaltenders, are eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft.
Finland (last medal, gold, 2014) – Preliminary Roster Announced Dec. 8
Preds goaltending prospect Juuse Saros (Nashville’s fourth choice, 99th overall, (fourth round) in the 2013 NHL Draft) is one of five returning players from Finland’s 2014 World Junior Gold medal-winning squad to be named to the country’s 29-man preliminary roster. In 2014, Saros led tournament goalies in save percentage (.943) and goals-against average (1.57) in six games played and was named to the WJC Media All-Star Team.
In addition to Saros, Joonas Lyytinen, the Preds’ sixth choice, 132nd overall (fifth round) in the 2014 Draft, was also named to the preliminary roster. Lyytinen, who was a member of Finland’s under-18 team in 2012-13, is playing this season with KalPa of the Finnish Elite League (SM-Liiga) and currently has eight points (4g-4a) in 26 games.
Eight other NHL prospects are featured on Finland’s preliminary roster along with 18 2015 NHL Draft eligible prospects and Jesse Puljujarvi, who will be eligible in 2016.
Sweden (last medal, silver, 2014) – Preliminary Roster Announced Dec. 8
Sweden announced its roster for the 2015 World Junior Championship on Monday, Dec. 8. The roster, which does not include any Preds prospects, includes four draft eligible prospects in defensemen Sebastian Aho and Oliver Kylington and forward Jens Lőőke, all eligible in 2015, and Rasmus Asplund, a forward who is eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft. Three players; forwards Adam Brodecki and Leon Bristedt and goaltender Samuel Ward went undrafted in their draft class. Preds fans can keep an eye on defenseman Robin Norell who was drafted in the fourth round (111th overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft by Central Division rival Chicago Blackhawks.