The World Junior Championships have been a huge tournament for quite some time now, and it is a great time for NHL fans to watch their favourite teams prospects, then subsequently vastly overrate them.
But honestly, the tournament is something I look forward to every year, just because we get to see players we don’t normally see. For Ottawa fans, this year should be especially exciting because of the group of prospects belonging to the Senators organization.
We aren’t able to watch players from the CHL on TV very often, let alone prospects from Europe. That’s why Senators fans should be paying close attention from Boxing Day until January 5th because there will be lots to keep an eye on.
There are certainly some years where the prospects going to the tournament aren’t that exciting, and it’s easy to see why one would be a bit disinterested. Although over the past decade, there have been a number of great WJC performances by Ottawa prospects including Mika Zibanejad, Mark Stone, Curtis Lazar, Erik Karlsson, and others. 2017 should add to that excitement, as there will be five (and potentially even six) players in the Senators organization playing in the tournament.
The most representatives from one team last year was seven, and typically a team will have about two or three, so five is exceptional.
It’s not as if these five players are just depth players on their rosters, either. Thomas Chabot, Colin White, Logan Brown, Filip Chlapik, and Jonathan Dahlen should all have big roles on their team, and whenever Canada, USA, Sweden, or the Czech Republic plays, we should be paying close attention.
The possible sixth player is Filip Ahl, as he is still listed as being with Sweden, although the addition of William Nylander may force them to cut him. I’m sure we will know his fate soon. If he stays, that’s great, but if he doesn’t, there are still five prospects to watch.
The point is, all five of these players are going to be must-watches in the WJC.
Thomas Chabot is of course the biggest of these prospects.
He will most likely be on Team Canada’s top pairing, since he even had that role last year with the team. Not only is he going to get top pairing minutes, he’s an assistant captain, showing that the coaching staff believes he is one of the better players and better leaders on this team. I still would have loved to see what he could do in the NHL this season, but I can’t wait to watch him out-class his competition in the tournament.
He’s had multiple partners including Noah Juulsen, Philippe Myers, and Dante Fabbro, so it’s unclear as to whom he will spend most of his time with. Fabbro makes the most sense, but time will tell.
With the amount of hype that surrounds Team Canada, it would not shock me if Chabot ends up being one of the heroes on the team if they win gold. He’s been playing incredibly well in Saint John with 20 points in 14 games, and I don’t see why he can’t keep it up.
Who knows, maybe he’ll have to be used in a shootout:
Colin White will have a similar role to Chabot on Team USA, although as a forward instead. He should be their first line centre, as this is what their lines looked like in their exhibition game vs. Switzerland.
USA forward lines vs SUI tonight. pic.twitter.com/7uDKG4raig— Mike Morreale (@mikemorrealeNHL) December 21, 2016
Clayton Keller is probably their most skilled player, and White gets to play with him.
Not only that, he’s also an assistant captain, which is great to see. White was one of Team USA’s better players last tournament, and I don’t see why that would change, especially considering his amazing linemates. Look for him to make a huge impact.
In case you didn’t notice, another Senators prospect is in that lineup, and he’s slotted right behind White. Logan Brown should get a solid opportunity to be a big contributor on the team as well, especially if Alex DeBrincat is on his right wing. DeBrincat has over two points per game this season in Erie, and with Brown’s play-making ability, it’s not hard to envision him getting plenty of assists.
I doubt many fans have seen Brown play live very much, and this will be our first time seeing him against the best of the best.
(EDIT: Well, it looks like Team USA is at it again. They always make strange decisions every year, and this time they’ve cut Logan Brown and Alex DeBrincat hours after I posted this. So Ottawa only has four prospects at the tournament unless Ahl stays with Sweden, but the main point of this article still remains).
The last two prospects are Dahlen and Chlapik, and while they don’t quite rank as highly as the first three prospects listed, they have some solid pedigree.
Chlapik has been downright phenomenal in Charlottetown this year, notching 44 points in 26 games, which puts him tied for 9th in the QMJHL, but first in points per game. Of course, he’s in his second season after being drafted, but his performance has still been impressive.
After a disappointing season last year, it’s great to see Chlapik pick it up in what should be his final junior season. Since he is on Team Czech Republic, he’ll be someone they will have to rely on, so if they are ever on TV I’m sure you’ll be able to see him lots.
Dahlen isn’t quite in the “blue-chip” prospect category, but I’m the most excited to see him play because he’s the only player of these five that is not in North America. Plus, he’s also had a great year with Timra IK so far, sitting second on the team in points. His teammate Elias Pettersson is on Team Sweden as well, so if they get paired on the same line, they could be one of Sweden’s better scoring lines.
Every so often I’ll see a clip of him, and he just looks so damn good:
Swedish Top Prospects, Elias Pettersson (1+1) and Jonathan Dahlén (1+0) provides the offence for Timrå IK... (4-2 W) pic.twitter.com/98qnZa5Wrb— Robert Söderlind (@HockeyWebCast) November 25, 2016
(second goal in the video above)
Dahlen is not a superstar forward by any means, but I can see him having a great tournament just like the other four prospects. If he has a good showing, it could boost his prospect stock significantly in the national level.
Ottawa fans have had some years where it was worthwhile to watch the World Juniors, but this year it is especially true. Their three best prospects plus two (and potentially three) of their 5-10 ranked players are in it as well, meaning many of the best players in the tournament could potentially be Senators prospects.
The World Juniors are always entertaining, and I watch it every year regardless of which Ottawa prospects are involved. However, this year it should be extra special considering who is involved. I hope everyone else watches as well and enjoys some fun hockey.