In this brief lull in the schedule between the quarter finals and semi finals its time to reflect on how certain players have done so far.
We've been keeping a close eye on the WJC at Defending Big D and in the build up to the tournament we had several players and prospects we suggested that should be kept an eye on. We looked specifically at Radek Faksa and the Czech Republic, Esa Lindell and Finland and notable 2014 draft prospects. In reality we should have also included 2015 draft prospects as there were a pair of very notable players who are eligible for that draft.
So how have the Dallas Stars prospects done so far in this tournament?
Radek Faksa had very mixed reviews. As usual he was a defensive stalwart. He was on the ice in key moments during the Czech Republic's win over Canada. But while his defensive work might have been noticeable his offensive production was distinctly lacking. He didn't register a single point during the group stages of the tournament. He had a single goal during their quarterfinal clash with Finland but that was his lone point of the tournament.
Is that disturbing? Its becoming increasingly likely that his offensive production in his draft year was not a sign of greater things to come. Would Teuvo Terravainen or Cody Ceci been a better pick? Perhaps, but hindsight is 20:20.
Faksa had an okay tournament, the offensive production wasn't there but his defensive work was fine.
Esa Lindell was another story. He took a leading role on a good Finnish side and showcased why he has been with Jokerit for large stints this season. He is playing in the top four for Finland and was one of the alternate captains for Finland.
So far through five games he has a goal and three assists. That makes him the most offensively productive Finnish defenseman and the third most productive of all Finnish players, behind Teuvo Teravainen and Saku Maenalanen. Not bad at all for Esa Lindell.
Finland face Canada tomorrow in a semi final so that will be a big test for the promising Finnish defenseman. Overall its been an excellent tournament for Lindell and hopefully one that he will be able to keep up in the SM-Liiga for the rest of the season.
So who was the most notable of the 2014 NHL Draft prospects?
Firstly there is Leon Draisaitl. He is notable not for any particularly good reasons. Its always said that a player can't hurt his draft place through a bad performance at the World Juniors. Draisaitl is certainly putting that to the test. In four games he got two assists. In a very clear statement about his performance he got more penalty minutes in those four games than points so far in his WHL season.
He took silly penalties, a pair of game misconducts and a suspension to remove any hope he had of being a difference making for Germany. While he might have had some impressive moments he put a big dent in the idea that he is a top five pick in this years draft.
Another notable performance from a player available for the draft is Lucas Wallmark, someone I had an eye on last year. He went undrafted and has six points in five games for a very impressive Swedish side. He impressed a lot of people and its likely he's going to go in the top 100 picks this year.
A pair of potential Czech first round picks, Jakub Vrana and David Pastrnak, performed a lot like the Czech team. Plenty of hard work with little offensive production to go with it. Then again they regularly passed the eyeball test even if they didn't finish up their chances. Not a bad tournament for them on a young side but they will want to do better next year.
The prospects that stood out the most, for a combination of good and bad reasons, were a pair of 2015 draft eligible forwards: Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel.
Connor McDavid, seen as a generational talent, had some low moments and some better moments on a deep Canadian side. A streak of penalties during their loss to the Czech Republic saw him getting benched for a lot of the remainder of the game though he get some assists on a few key goals for Canada. He has four points in five games so far for Canada.
Jack Eichel was probably the most impressive player on the USA side in my opinion. He did everything and was creative. He was one of those players that make you double check the roster to see if it was really a 17-year-old forward who just pulled our an impressive move around some of the best junior players in the world. He had five points in five games, a goal and four assists, and was just impressive in how he played. He is definitely a player to watch for the future.
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