First off, since we won't likely have any posts later today or tomorrow, we want to wish everyone who's celebrating it tomorrow a very merry Christmas.
As hockey fans know, with Christmas comes the IIHF World Junior Championships, and this year's no exception. The Ottawa Senators are sending four prospects to represent various countries at the tournament this year, so let's take a look at the players and at what we might expect from them.
Fredrik Claessen (Sweden): It's difficult to know what to expect from Claessen, a defenceman the Senators drafted in the fifth round (126 overall) last year. There are some well-known guys among Sweden's top seven (Jonas Brodin, Oscar Klefbom, Patrik Nemeth), but Claessen has decent size, so he should certainly see some games.
Jakub Culek (Czech Republic): Culek played for the Czech Republic in the WJCs last year, too, notching a goal and an assist as the Czechs finished seventh in the tournament. He's scoring a bit more this year in the QMJHL (23P [8G, 15A] in 32GP), so he will likely have a better tournament this year, too. He'll certainly be among the leaders for the Czech Republic squad.
Mark Stone (Canada): Stone's looked terrific so far in pre-tournament play, with three goals (and almost a fourth) in three games. He's having an outstanding year so far in the WHL, with 65P (27G, 38A) in 33GP, so he'll be cast in an offensive role with Team Canada. Expect him to be among the team's point leaders.
Mika Zibanejad (Sweden): Zibanejad has switched from centre to wing for this year's tournament, and it's working out pretty well: He had two goals in the pre-tournament game between Sweden and Canada last night. Expect him to be among Team Sweden's offensive leaders in the tournament, and don't be surprised if he plays a very aggressive physical style. The shift to wing might benefit the Senators next season, too, as it looks like Ottawa now has an abundance of young centremen.
- Recaps from last night: Silver Seven | Canes Country | Citizen | Sun
- The Senators apparently asked the NHL to rescind the misconduct Nick Foligno received for his "charge" on Keaton Ellerby. I didn't even know that was possible. (Sun)
- Jeremy Milks compares this year's squad to the exciting Senators team from 1997-98. (Black Aces)
- Can the Senators be considered contenders? (National Post)
Other hockey headlines:
- Looks like Mike Milbury's off the hook after being charged with assault last week. The case was thrown out. (Puck Daddy)
- DGB gives you the inside scoop for the upcoming World Juniors. (Down Goes Brown)
Finally, Craig Anderson's post-game interview from last night. Does anyone else get the impression he wants the interview to end right away so he can get home, get some sleep, and get ready for the holidays?