As Defending Big D’s team captain Taylor Baird wrote about earlier this week, the illustrious World Junior Hockey Championships are fast approaching, and a healthy number of Dallas Stars prospects should be taking part in the festivities.
While the official rosters have not been announced yet, the participating countries have released invitee lists for their selection camps. Each team will trim their group closer to the start of the tournament to finalize their rosters.
Here’s a quick rundown of the Stars prospects that received invites, their countries, their odds of making the team and what fans could expect.
Miro Heiskanen - Finland
No surprise here, really. Heiskanen is one of the best defensemen, of any age, playing in Finland’s top professional league. He’s already getting buzz for the 2018 Olympics, nevermind the World Juniors. Barring any crazy setbacks, Heiskanen will log a ton of minutes for Finland at the tournament.
Jake Oettinger - United States
Oettinger was the 3rd string goalie for Team USA at last year’s event, and even though his numbers in the NCAA have faltered this season, he should still make the U.S. team. He could very well be their starting goalie, as he and Joseph Woll (another returnee) are pretty close in terms of skill level. Oettinger’s Boston University club isn’t very good defensively this season, so it would be interesting to see how Oettinger performs with a better defense in front of him and against competition limited to his age group.
Riley Tufte - United States
The U.S. will have a lot of great forwards to choose from for this event, including at left wing, so it’s hard to gauge Tufte’s chances here. Still, Tufte has a unique blend of size and skating ability, and that could easily factor in with how the U.S. wants to build their forward group.
Fredrik Karlstrom - Sweden
Karlstrom made the Swedish team last year and performed well, picking up three points in seven games. However, his ice time and production have both dropped dramatically this year after a change to a new team in a better league. Will the Swedish staff trust in the fact that Karlstrom is a returnee, or will they go with other forwards that have been playing better recently?
Colton Point - Canada
A pleasant surprise, Point has been nearly unbeatable this season for Colgate in the NCAA, and Hockey Canada took notice. There’s no doubt that Carter Hart will be Canada’s de facto starting goalie at this year’s WJCs after stealing the job midway through last year’s tournament, but Point could certainly win the backup job over Michael DiPietro. Even if he’s not the number one, getting a start or two at this event could be a big boost for Point’s development.
Ondrej Vala - Czech Republic
Vala played on the Czech team last year and should be a big part of their blueline this time around. The Czechs won’t have a particularly strong team and are longshots to medal, but it could be a nice development opportunity for Vala if he logs a lot of minutes.
The 2018 World Juniors are being hosted in Buffalo and kick off on Boxing Day.
It was a perfect stretch for the Texas Stars last week, winning all three of their games.
Landon Bow got the start in all three games and went 3-0. His best performance came on Friday, stopping 35 of 37 shots in a 3-2 overtime win over the Bakersfield Condors.
Jason Dickinson was the team’s biggest offensive catalyst, tallying four goals in those three games, extending his team lead in goals to 13. He was rewarded for all his strong play with another call-up to Dallas on Sunday.
The games also saw Denis Gurianov pick up his second goal of the season, while Roope Hintz and Niklas Hansson added assists.
North American Juniors
Speaking again of Tufte, he snapped a recent cold streak with a two-goal performance on Saturday as the University of Minnesota-Duluth topped Omaha 6-2.
Rhett Gardner also scored over the weekend, unleashing a sizzler top corner to net his fourth goal of the year for the University of North Dakota.
Nick Caamano continues to gel with his new club, the Hamilton Bulldogs, picking up four points over the course of a three-game week.
Liam Hawel had two points in three games for Guelph, including a powerplay marker.
John Nyberg picked up two assists over his past two games, giving him 10 points in 26 contests. His icetime has dipped a bit over the past few games, but his season average of 18:18 is still third among blueliners on his Frolunda club.
Jakob Stenqvist added another powerplay assist for Bjorkloven in the Allsvenskan league. He’s currently tied for 3rd in defensemen scoring in the league while averaging 18:01 per night. It was a bit of a surprise that Stenqvist didn’t get an invite to Sweden’s World Junior camp.
2018 NHL Draft Watch
Since we’re still on the topic of World Junior camp invites, a bit of a surprising name made the first cut for Sweden: 17-year-old center Jacob Olofsson.
There’s no shortage of things to like about Olofsson’s game. He’s big, he’s mobile, he possesses a good shot and he can set up his teammates. He played 14 games in the Allsvenskan last year as a 16-year-old and now has 10 points in 24 games this year playing in a Top 6 role.
It seems unlikely that he’ll actually make Sweden’s WJC roster, but the fact that he got invited to the camp at all is a good sign of just how much potential he has.
2018-eligible Jacob Olofsson scored his first Allsvenskan goal for Timrå last night. Possesses a good, accurate shot w/ plenty of punch. pic.twitter.com/4L4JukjVCn— Alex Nunn (@aj_ranger) September 27, 2017