Christmas Can’t Come Soon Enough
The World Juniors are the best part of Christmas holidays. It’s a fact. I’m not sure where to find the proof so just take my word for it. I always get a little too excited for this tournament, but this year is even worse than usual. This is because the Leafs actually have some good prospects who will most likely be playing in it for once and it isn’t Freddy The Goat. No offence to Freddy, but he is not exactly an exhilarating prospect. I’m going to look at some Leafs prospects with the potential of representing their respective countries at the upcoming World Junior Tournament.
Mitch Marner (CAN)
He is a lock. Unless he gets hurt or something horrible like that. In that case you can blame me.
Note: Sault native Jake Patterson makes an appearance at 0:05 in this video. Look at the focus. Great tape job Jake!
Travis Dermott (CAN)
The Leafs actually traded down a couple of times before they picked Dermott 34th overall in the 2015 draft. They originally traded the 24th overall pick to the Flyers for the 29th and 61st picks. They then sent the 29th pick to Columbus for the 34th and 68th picks of the draft. Essentially, they traded Travis Konecny (selected by the Flyers with the 24th pick) for Dermott (34th overall), Jeremy Bracco (61st overall) and Martins Dzierkals (68th overall). I love these moves. Dermott is a very smooth skating defenceman who is sound in both ends of the ice. He moves the puck and sees the ice well. He also has a bit of a mean streak, which is awesome. While not quite as explosive, he reminds me a lot of a poor man’s Morgan Rielly. I think it’s just his smooth skating style and puck handling abilities. The 6’0, 197 lbs, Erie Otters defenceman has 19 points through 22 games this season (all assists) and has a pretty good chance at representing Team Canada.
Jeremy Bracco (USA)
The aforementioned Bracco is an extremely talented play maker. The first-round-talent fell in the draft due to, you guessed it, size. Hockeydb has him listed at 5’10, 173 lbs, which I would argue is quite generous. He is another Leafs prospect who still looks like he goes home and crawls into his racecar bed. He needs to put on a lot of muscle, but this kid is really skilled offensively. He started this season with Boston College where he put up three assists through five games (all three were in one game). He left Boston to join the Kitchener Rangers which is most likely the best option for his development. He is now playing top line minutes and is on the top power play unit on one of the OHL’s best teams. He has three goals and 11 assists through 11 games with the Rangers and has been showing off his passing abilities. There is a pretty solid chance that he will represent the U.S. at this year’s tournament seeing as he was apparently last year’s final cut.
Dmytro Timashov (SWE)
Potential steal of the 2015 draft. The Ukrainian-born Swede was drafted in the 5th round 125th overall after putting up 90 points in 66 games last year for the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL. He is another small play making winger with a whole lot of potential. While he is only 5’10, he is 192 lbs. He’s a strong kid and he has started this season off by putting up 13 goals and 41 points through in 22 games. I’m no mathematician (I actually needed spellcheck to spell the word), but I think that is pretty good. Good enough for 5th in the Q. Not bad for a fifth rounder. Needless to say, I hope to see him playing for Sweden at the tournament and I think he’s earned a spot.
Jesper Lindgren (SWE)
I’ll be honest right off the hop here, I don’t know much about this kid. What I do know is Shanny, Dubas, Hunter and the boys drafted the 6’0, 161 lbs defenceman in the 4th round and 95th overall in the 2015 draft. According to eliteprospects.com, he is a speedy, puck moving defenceman with high hockey IQ. Honestly, I hope he makes Team Sweden just so I can learn more about this kid.
Note: this is literally the only youtube video of him playing.
JJ (or John) Piccinich (USA)
Another dropout, Piccinich left Boston University for the London Knights this year. The Leafs drafted him in the 4th round at 103rd overall in the 2014 draft. The 6’0, 190 lbs, winger has had a solid start to his OHL career, putting up 14 goals and 26 points in his first 18 games. He sees the ice well and can clearly put the puck in the net, but there has been some complaints about his consistency. I’m not sure how good the 19-year-old’s chances are to make the American team, but here’s hoping he is given the opportunity to play on the team with Bracco.
Once again, not a lot of Piccinich material on youtube other than this video which was apparently filmed with a potato.
Nikita Korostelev (RUS)
The Leafs took Korostelev with their 7th round pick in the 2015 draft at 185th overall. It is not an encouraging sign that the skilled winger wasn’t invited to play for Team Russia in the CHL vs. Russia series. Korostelev dropped a long way in the draft, as he was ranked 69th in Bob McKenzie’s final draft rankings heading into the draft. I’m not 100 per cent sure why he dropped so far, but Tom Hunter from mapleleafshotstove.com mentions the possibility of “the Russian factor” playing a role in it. The Sarnia Sting winger has five goals and 15 points in 21 games so far this year. He is what you would call a long shot to make the team. Skip to 2:15 of this video to get to some of his work last year with the Sting.
William Nylander (SWE) and Kasperi Kapanen (FIN)?
Let’s be clear, this is highly unlikely. But it is a possibility! Needless to say, these two are a huge part of the Leafs rebuild. Nylander dominated last year putting up 10 points in 7 games and is currently leading the AHL in points. Also, I am currently listening to their game and Kapanen has a goal and two assists heading into the third. Nylander has a goal and an assist. It’s becoming less and less likely as we speak that either will be playing for their respective countries at the tournament.
Is it Boxing Day yet?
I literally cannot wait for this tournament. It’s a little bit unhealthy how much I’ve been thinking about it. You should get excited too, no matter what team you cheer for. The World Juniors is always the most fun hockey to watch and it gives you a peak at the NHL’s future stars.
My buddy Mike Fell (Karel Pilar) and I are planning on making a few podcasts during the tournament over a few beers. We’re basically going to talk hockey with a focus on the Juniors while most likely tearing each other apart and telling stupid stories. I’m trying to get some feedback on this idea so, thoughts? Would this garner any listeners?