So with the list of potential draft eligible players going up the other day, now it’s time for the list of potential Group A talent to go up, and what better day to put it up than in a mad-rush on Christmas day with just 24 hours left until the tournament gets underway.
So feel free to browse through this list, and the list from Group B if you want to do something whilst you wait for your Christmas dinner, or if you just want to avoid awkward small talk.
It’s not actually surprising that there’s no players to write about here for Canada, they are usually a nation that sends older players to the tournament, ones that have already been drafted and that’ll be the case again here when the Canadians send their squad to Buffalo for this years World Juniors as they try to do one better than a silver medal last year.
Last seasons surprise package, Denmark defied the odds to finish second in a confusing Group A. Finland finished last with only one win to show for their efforts, with Denmark finished second to Sweden in a very tight group. As always, Sweden finished without dropping a point in the Group Stage, but there was three points separating Denmark from last place Finland.
Despite success in getting out the group, it was the end of the road in the Quarterfinal as they fell 4 – 0 to Russia in the Air Canada Centre.
So for a nation not known for its Ice Hockey prowess, lets crack on and check out the potential draft picks that could suit up for Denmark this year.
Mads Sogaard – G – Austin Bruins – NAHL
The youngest of the three potential goaltenders for Denmark this year, Sogaard who’s in his first year playing in North America will likely be a backup at best, but most likely a spare if the Danes choose to carry three goaltenders into the tournament.
Despite being draft eligible, it is quite unlikely a team picks up the 17-year-old goaltender, but he is performing quite well for the NAHLs Austin Bruins with a .901 save percentage and 3.01 goals against average.
He’s represented his country at the U16 level and U18, winning a bronze at the U18 World Juniors last season, so he’ll have more opportunities to battle for a starting spot with Denmark at next-years World Juniors.
Lasse Holm Mortensen – D – Rodovre – Denmark
Another member of the Danish side who’s draft eligible but may not hear his name called next summer, Lasse Holm Mortensen could play a minor role if he’s to see any ice time at this year’s World Juniors.
At 17-years-old, he’s currently icing for Rodovre at the U20 levels, their division 2 side and the senior team.
For the Under 20s he’s put up four points in nine games, while also putting up two points in nine games in the senior league.
Phillip Schultz – F – Rodovre – Denmark
A potential late round pick, Phillip Schutlz is another of the Danes potential 17-year-old skaters at this years World Juniors. Like Mortensen, he’s grown up in the Rodovre system and is a regular in the senior league this season, putting up six points in 26 outings for the Rodovre Mighty Bulls of the Danish men’s league.
He’s played for Denmark in the U16 and U18 levels and scored one goal on the Danes way to a bronze medal at the 2017 U18 World Juniors.
While he’s not likely to have a future in the NHL and could be a decent farm player for any NHL team that takes a chance on him late in next summers draft, he could be an important player for the Danish U20 side in years to come, but maybe not so much this year.
Oliver True – F – Ottawa 67s – OHL
I’ll start off admitting this ones a bit confusing because some sites have him listed on the roster (like TSN) but some (like EliteProspects) don’t have him listed as a member of the squad.
At 17-years-old, Oliver True is could be another late round pick out of Denmark next summer, and is currently playing for the Ottawa 67s of the OHL.
He’s been held to just seven points in 30 games in his first season in North America, but could like the other 17-year-old Danes this year be an interesting one to watch next season, maybe not this year.
The only way at all that it could have worse for Finland last season is if they actually got relegated, instead the side that came into the tournament as the defending champions had to do battle with Latvia to stay up in the Top Division after a dismal group stage showing, which the Finns even fired the coaching staff midway through the tournament.
For a nation with the calibre of hockey like Finland, it’s no surprise that there will be few players in the squad who are draft eligible, but instead mostly made up of older players who have already been selected by an NHL Club.
Rasmus Kupari – F – Karpat Oulu – Finland
The lone potential draft pick in the Finnish squad this year, Rasmus Kupari could picked midway through the first-round next summer.
As is usually the case with young Finns who don’t move to North America to play junior hockey, Kupari made his Liiga debut this season for Karpat, putting up four points in 19 outings, while also adding seven points in 11 games for the U20 side.
He’s been a key performer in the Finnish junior system, winning a silver medal at last years U18 World Juniors where he finished with three points in seven games.
He may find himself a little lower on the roster this year for Finland, but over the next couple of seasons he’ll be a huge part of the Finns system as they look to avoid the embarrassment of last year.
It’ll be likely that in Group A, Slovakia will be mostly focussing on the Danes to avoid finishing at the bottom of the group to avoid a relegation battle. Last year they finished fourth in Group B, before crashing out in the Quarterfinals in a big 8 – 3 loss to Sweden.
It’s no surprise that there’s not a lot of draft picks in the squad this year, mostly undrafted talent with a few prospects. Only forwards Adam Ruzicka (Calgary) and Marian Studenic (New Jersey) are the players already drafted in the Slovakian roster this year.
Martin Fehervary – D – IK Oskarshamn – Allsvenskan
This will be the second time around for Martin Fehervary in the World Juniors, after registering a goal in last year’s tournament it’s likely he’ll find himself with a bigger role this December/January.
He also captained the Slovakian U18 side last year so in a season or two it wouldn’t be surprising to see him with a letter on his sweater again.
He’s currently icing for IK Oskarshamn of the Swedish second division after icing for the Malmo RedHawks and their Junior system since moving to Sweden in the 2014-15 season. In 24 games for Oskarshamn this year he’s put up four points and is likely a third/fourth round selection when the draft comes around next summer.
Michal Ivan – D – Acadie-Bathurst Titan – QMJHL
Another draft eligible prospect for the Slovakians this year is 18-year-old Michal Ivan who’s currently playing in his first year in North America for Acadie-Bathurst Titan of the QMJHL. After joining midway through the year, Ivan has put up nine points in 19 games for his new team, after starting the year without a point in four games for HKM Zvolen in Slovakia.
He’s tipped as a potential fifth round talent and could show his playmaking ability over the next couple of tournaments, but he’ll be unlikely to have a large role this time of asking.
Adam Liska – F – Kitchener Rangers – OHL
There’s no real indication of where Liska could be drafted next summer, but after he’s impressing a bit in his first year of hockey in North America, it’s likely that Liska will hear his name called in the late rounds.
With 19 points in 33 games for the OHLs Kitchener Rangers, Liska could be a small role player in this years World Juniors, after having an impressive performance for the U18 side with six points in five games in the U18 World Juniors last year, being named as one of the Top 3 players on the side.
He’s shown in his junior career he’s got a keen eye for net, putting up 25 goals in 38 games in the 2014-15 season for HK Ruzinov 99 Bratislava’s U18 programme.
Milos Roman – F – Vancouver Giants – WHL
Possibly the Slovakians best prospect right now, Milos Romance was very impressive on and off the puck in last year’s tournament, arguably being one of the Slovak’s most influential players. He was called upon a lot despite his age last time around, and it’s likely he’ll be called upon in an even bigger role this time around.
Since moving to North America for the first time, Roman has 29 points in 33 games for the WHLs Vancouver Giants and is looking to be a late 2nd round pick at best, but most likely a third-round pick, but could do a bit to push him closer to the second round with a solid performance in this year’s World Juniors.
The reigning champions after a shootout win last year, the USA will play hosts this year as they look to defend their medal with a team made up mostly of players who’ve already been drafted into the NHL.
Quinn Hughes – D – Michigan – NCAA
A top prospect for next summer, defenseman Quinton Hughes should be a top 10 pick and he’ll be an important part of the USA’s title defence.
A native of Orlando, Florida, Hughes is in his first year of NCAA hockey with the University of Michigan where he’s impressing with 10 points in 16 games, including nine assists.
After a solid performance as the US took gold at last years U18 World Juniors, Hughes will be given a big chance to really show off his potential on an international stage with the US U20 team, and is definitely one to watch to have a solid NHL future.
Scott Perunovich – D – Minnesota Duluth – NCAA
An older draft eligible player, Perunovich is a 19-year-old blueliner playing for the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Despite his impressive resume, it’ll be his second time representing the US junior team, midway through an impressive season with 16 points in 19 games in the NCAA.
He’s previously played in the US U18 team at the 2015-16 Hlinka Memorial tournament, and he could be an important player on the back end, rather than an eye-catching talent this winter.
Brady Tkachuk – F – Boston University – NCAA
The best prospect this summer coming out of the USA, Brady Tkachuk will look to do something his father Keith and brother Matthew weren’t able to do when they represented the US in the World Juniors. Both his dad and brother walked away with Bronze medals, but Brady could be in with a real shot at gold this winter.
A potential top five pick in the 2018 draft, Tkachuk is doing well for Boston University in the NCAA this season with 14 points in 19 games, after a solid 54 points in 61 game performance last year for the US National U18 team.
He captained the U18 team last year to a gold medal, so while he’s expected to pick up some solid minutes this time around, don’t be surprised to see him return next year with either an A or a C on his jersey.
So that’s all for this years Draft Eligible prospects list, I may do some more about the World Juniors over the coming days, but hopefully you’ve enjoyed these lists.