Three New York Rangers prospects will represent their country in the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship. Brandon Halverson (United States), Adam Huska (Slovakia), and Aleksi Saarela (Finland) will participate in the tournament, which takes place in Helsinki, Finland from December 26 to January 5.
Halverson, 19, has appeared in 21 games with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) this season, posting a 9-10-1 record. The Rangers’ second round pick (59th overall) in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft has made 30 or more saves in 11 appearances this season, and he has posted a 4-1-0 record, along with a 2.40 GAA and a .928 SV% in his last five appearances with the Greyhounds. Last season, Halverson became the first Rangers draft pick in franchise history to earn 40 or more wins in one season of junior hockey.
The Traverse City, Michigan native also represented the United States in the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship. Halverson stopped all 14 shots he faced to earn his first career international win/shutout while making his international debut on Dec. 28, 2014 against Germany.
Huska, 18, has appeared in 17 games with the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League (USHL) this season, posting an 11-6-0 record, along with a 1.65 GAA, a .942 SV%, and 4 SO. The Rangers’ seventh round pick (184th overall) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft leads the USHL in GAA, SV%, and SO, and ranks fourth in the league in wins in 2015-16. In his last 15 appearances in the USHL, he has posted an 11-4-0 record, along with a 1.39 GAA, a .952 SV%, and 4 SO, and he has allowed one goal or fewer in 10 of the 15 contests over the span.
The Zvolen, Slovakia native has represented his country in several tournaments. Last season, Huska posted a 3.01 GAA and a .913 SV% in five appearances while representing Slovakia in the 2015 IIHF U18 World Championship. He was named one of the top three players on Slovakia in the tournament.
Saarela, 18, has skated in 27 games with Ässät of Liiga this season, registering ten goals and five assists for 15 points, along with a plus-four rating and 12 penalty minutes. The Rangers’ third round pick (89th overall) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft is tied for first among all players younger than 20 years old in Liiga in goals in 2015-16, and he is tied for 11th among all players in the league in goals this season.
The Helsinki, Finland native has represented his country in several tournaments. This season, Saarela registered two assists and posted a plus-three rating in three games while representing Finland in the Four Nations Tournament, and he helped Finland post a 3-0-0 record in the tournament. Last season, Saarela registered three goals and five assists for eight points, along with a plus-six rating in seven games while helping Finland capture a silver medal in the 2015 IIHF U18 World Championship.