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2018 U18 World Junior Championship

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Apr 24Adam Boqvist looking forward to his second NHL draft
Apr 23PROSPECT REPORT: The Coyotes are better than they seem
Apr 23Elias Pettersson – Swedish hockey’s new golden boy
Apr 18The Playoff Report – which prospects are excelling in the postseason?
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December 07, 2017

Sabres faithful may get chance to see Mittelstadt shine

Drafted eighth in the first round this past June by the Buffalo Sabres, it’s looking more and more likely that Minnesota native Casey Mittelstadt has a rare opportunity to show off his skills in front of his future NHL fanbase.

Assuming he’ll be named to the USA roster for the 2018 World Junior Hockey Championship later this month, Mittelstadt would have the chance to play in Buffalo’s KeyBank Center a season before his expected transition from the NCAA to professional hockey.

Splitting his time in between his high school team and the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers in his 2016-17 draft  year, he’s now a key forward for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers. In his freshman season, he’s registered 5 goals and 10 points through 17 games, good enough for 64th in the country in scoring. On Tuesday, Mittelstadt was named to the USA’s preliminary training camp roster.

If he does make the final cut, Mittelstadt could be joined by another recent Buffalo draft pick in 2016 first-round pick Alex Nylander. Already with 21 points to his name from the past two World Junior tournaments, the Sabres front office has discussed allowing the Rochester Americans forward to return for a third and final time.

“The fact the tournament is right here in Buffalo versus him traveling halfway around the world makes it an easier possibility,” Sabres GM Jason Botterill said about possibly releasing Nylander for the tournament in a recent interview.

But surprisingly, the opportunity for a recently drafted top prospect to show off for his new fans at the World Juniors isn’t quite as frequent as you’d probably think. Since 1977, the tournament’s only been held in a city with an active NHL team nine times. And while it would be nice to think that it’s a smooth process to star at the World Juniors before transitioning to the NHL, history shows that isn’t always the case.

Let’s visit the highs and lows of players playing international junior hockey in front of the city that drafted them:

Erik Karlsson, Sweden
2009, Ottawa
15th Overall, 2008
Before he was the captain and driving force behind the Senators, Karlsson was one of the event’s key attractions. In his only World Juniors performance, Karlsson excelled, scoring nine points in six games and picking up a silver medal. Now a two-time Norris winner, Karlsson’s performance was a bit of foreshadowing, as he was named the tournament’s best defenceman.

Zack Kassian, Canada
2011, Buffalo
13th overall, 2009
Kassian didn’t quite light up the World Juniors, as he registered three points in five games. His career never really took off in Buffalo, having played just 27 games for the team before being traded to Vancouver for Cody Hodgson in February 2012.

William Nylander, Sweden
2015, Toronto/Montreal
8th overall, 2014
Picking up ten points over seven games to finish fourth in tournament scoring, Nylander played both his round robin and medal round action in Toronto. Despite Nylander’s efforts, the Swedes fell in the bronze medal game in an 4-2 upset against Slovakia and goaltender Denis Godla, who was named tournament MVP. Unfortunately for Nylander, he was unable to repeat this performance as his 2016 tournament ended in his first game when he was the target of a blindside hit.

Zach Fucale, Canada
Tournament: 2015, Toronto/ Montreal
Drafted: 36th overall, 2013
A 2013 Memorial Cup winner with the Halifax Mooseheads, Fucale gave up just six goals over five games in the tournament, winning a gold medal in the process while putting up a 5-0 record. Two of Fucale’s wins came at the Bell Centre in Montreal, while the other three came in Toronto. His success has not translated to the professional level, however, as he has yet to play an NHL game, travelling through the Canadiens’ ECHL and AHL affiliates over the past three seasons.

While some players make it through the tournament and then see themselves in the pro ranks later on, there have been some hapless incidents as well that have disrupted this timeline.

Drafted by the 13th overall by the Flames in 2011, Switzerland’s Sven Baertschi suffered a concussion in his second game during the 2012 tournament in Calgary that prevented him from continuing. Russia’s highly-touted Mikhail Sergachev played in the 2017 tournament after being taken ninth overall the previous June by the Canadiens. However, he was subsequently traded to Tampa Bay in this past offseason as part of a package for Jonathan Drouin, having played just four games in the NHL for Montreal. Canucks prospect Luc Bourdon was named a tournament all-star in front of Vancouver crowd in 2006. Tragically, he was killed in a motorcycle accident in May 2008, just 27 games into his NHL career.

With the Sabres out of town from December 23rd to January 9th, Mittelstadt and Nylander could provide a welcome distraction for local hockey fans. Since the last time the World Juniors were held in Buffalo in 2011, the Sabres have been to the playoffs just once, and the Sabres are once again in the NHL’s cellar. But if they’re thinking about the top of the draft again in Buffalo, at least the fans might get the chance to see two of their own up close.


Adam Laskaris

24 April, 2018

Adam Boqvist looking forward to his second NHL draft

Unlike most of his peers, Adam Boqvist went to the NHL Entry Draft one summer before it was his draft year. Not because he wanted to learn about the event, take...

23 April, 2018

PROSPECT REPORT: The Coyotes are better than they seem

It was another difficult season in the desert as the Coyotes finished with the worst record in the Western Conference. But, under the radar, Arizona had a solid...

23 April, 2018

Elias Pettersson – Swedish hockey’s new golden boy

The expectations were certainly high when Växjö Lakers signed Elias Pettersson to a three-year deal in early April last year. The young forward had just finishe...

18 April, 2018

The Playoff Report – which prospects are excelling in the postseason?

The old trusted adage that you need grit and experience to succeed in the playoffs is proving less and less true every day. Every day reports filter in from var...

13 April, 2018

Swedish prospect Filip Hållander to miss the World Juniors

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11 April, 2018

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As legend has it, the origins of the term Black Ace can be traced back centuries. 1876, to be specific. That is the year in which famous Old West lawman ?Wild B...

10 April, 2018

PROSPECT REPORT: The Sabres need to win the draft lottery

The Buffalo Sabres became the first team ever to finish 31st in the NHL this year.  For their struggles, the Sabres will have the highest odds at the draft lott...

09 April, 2018

Oilers prospects turning heads during Swedish playoffs

Edmonton Oilers’ fans didn’t have a whole lot to cheer about this season. Outside of Connor McDavid‘s second straight Art Ross Trophy, which i...

05 April, 2018

The next batch – rookies that could rule the NHL in 2019

The Calder Memorial Trophy of 2018 hasn?t even been handed out yet and still you want us to take a look at next year?s candidates? Really? Fair enough then, let...

03 April, 2018

Rasmus Dahlin shut down for the season: “I need to recover”

Rasmus Dahlin won’t play any more hockey this season. The 17 year-old defenseman, destined to go first overall at the NHL entry draft in Dallas in June, m...

01 April, 2018

Prospects get their shot with the Swedish national team

Several Swedish prospects will get their chance to don the yellow and blue jersey. On Sunday, four junior aged players were named to the Swedish national team t...

28 March, 2018

A class of their own – NHL rookies of 2018

Until Brock Boeser suffered a scary back injury at the beginning of March, the race for NHL rookie of the year was an exciting one. While still not completely s...

23 March, 2018

A Russian hero – Kaprizov had a knack for scoring big goals early

Some players look like they are going to be NHL superstars as soon as they are born. Many of the players in the NHL nowadays have hockey in their bloodlines and...

22 March, 2018

A Brit in the NHL draft – Liam Kirk is reaching for the dream

We’ve seen them show up every once in a while, players with a rather exotic background in terms of hockey culture. Their stories are often filled with sac...

20 March, 2018

Boqvist and Bouchard in tight race to follow Dahlin

While it would be a stretch to call the 2018 NHL entry draft a dull affair, we do have a pretty good idea of how it will start out. It?ll be Frölunda Indians de...

19 March, 2018

Report: Connor McDavid to play at the World Championships

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15 March, 2018

Despite playoff exit – Erik Brännström hopes his season isn’t over

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13 March, 2018

The best team in junior hockey right now

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11 March, 2018

Expected trade gives undrafted Swedish prospect a better shot at the NHL

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07 March, 2018

Vegas’ prospect pool deepens with breakout season from Nicolas Hague

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02 March, 2018

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28 February, 2018

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23 February, 2018

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21 February, 2018

A beginner’s guide to prospect development in the United States

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19 February, 2018

Maple Leafs’ Russian prospect looks ready for North America

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15 February, 2018Will the star-studded, new-look Frontenacs be a playoff threat?
15 February, 2018Heiskanen carries burden of expectation going into Olympics, NHL career
13 February, 2018Erik Karlsson’s homage to Rasmus Dahlin: “He’s much better than I was at that age”
12 February, 2018Has the grind gotten to Eeli Tolvanen ahead of the Olympics?
10 February, 2018Why Vancouver Canucks fans will love Jonathan Dahén
09 February, 2018What’s going on with Dylan Strome?
07 February, 2018Kapanen eager to establish himself in Toronto
04 February, 2018Europe vs. North America – who’ll have the first goaltender in the 2018 draft?
03 February, 2018The steal of the 2017 draft – Eeli Tolvanen looks NHL ready
02 February, 2018Kailer Yamamoto has hit his stride in the WHL 
01 February, 2018Not an afterthought anymore – Swedish sniper looks to give Sabres value
31 January, 2018Mathias Emilio Pettersen – Scouted for over a decade
30 January, 2018Canada’s golden hero is having a season for the ages
30 January, 2018Ranking: They lead the way at mid-season Calder Trophy race
29 January, 2018Seven prospects to keep track of during the Olympics
27 January, 2018What’s the best fit for Rasmus Dahlin?
26 January, 2018Who is going to stop Russia’s All-Star studs at the Olympics?
25 January, 2018Dominik Bokk – a German that shunned the Draisaitl route
25 January, 2018Logan Stanley – An old school player in the modern era
08 January, 2018The WJC summed up in seven thoughts
08 January, 2018The future of Avalanche blueline resides in Canada
06 January, 2018Gold medal recap: Canada wins gold at WJC in Buffalo
05 January, 2018WJC Semifinals Recap – Sweden, Canada advance to gold medal game
03 January, 2018WJC Quarterfinals Recap: The Czechs upset Finland – Canada cruises to semifinals
02 January, 2018WJC 2018 Quarterfinal Preview – here are the match-ups
01 January, 2018Casey Mittelstadt clear MVP through group stage; 2018 draft-eligibles shine
01 January, 2018Recap of Day 6: Sweden tops Group B, USA pulls out late win against Finland
31 December, 2017Kurashev leading second wave of talented Swiss prospects
31 December, 2017Recap of Day 5: Canada tops out in Group A – Sweden takes third straight win
29 December, 2017The call him “The Hunter” – meet the Caps’ rising prospect
29 December, 2017Recap of Day 3: Slovakia upsets United States, Finland dominates Denmark 
28 December, 2017Recap of Day 2 – Canada pushes past Slovakia to remain perfect
27 December, 2017Will Czech Republic’s Necas and Chytil continue to produce their magic?
27 December, 2017Recap of Day 1 – Czechs confirm dark horse status with win over Russia
26 December, 2017Russia looks to extend WJC streak with largely unknown squad 
26 December, 2017Rasmus Dahlin highlights Swedish squad looking to end medal drought 
26 December, 2017Talented Finnish team eager to make amends after last year’s fiasco
26 December, 2017Who belongs where? – The WJC players and the NHL teams they are drafted by
25 December, 2017Too good for the World Juniors – here are the players you’ll miss in Buffalo
25 December, 2017WJC Countdown: Zibanejad ends Sweden’s gold drought in OT
24 December, 2017United States send roster loaded with offensive talent to Buffalo
24 December, 2017WJC Countdown: Chubarov nets twice in 1999 final
23 December, 2017WJC Countdown: David Aebischer leads Switzerland to first-ever World Juniors medal 
23 December, 2017The curious case of Sean Day
22 December, 2017WJC Countdown: Peter Forsberg sets tournament record with whopping 31 points 
22 December, 2017Revolutionizing the game of hockey: who will be next?
21 December, 2017WJC Countdown: The NHL lockout allowed Canada to ice a historically-good team in 2005
21 December, 2017Back in the spotlight
21 December, 2017Russia’s Svechnikov fighting for roster spot, high draft position
20 December, 2017WJC Countdown: Kapanen’s heroics etch his name in Finnish history
20 December, 2017Predicting the top scorer for the 2018 World Junior Championships
19 December, 2017European free agents providing value for NHL clubs
19 December, 2017WJC Countdown: Kazakhstan upsets Canada in front of tiny crowd
18 December, 2017WJC Countdown: United States wins first-ever gold medal after bizarre own-goal
18 December, 2017The five WJC defenders most likely to be on an NHL roster this fall
17 December, 2017WJC Countdown: Russia snaps gold medal drought in 2011 with three ridiculous comebacks
17 December, 2017Canada leaves skill at home in favour of balanced team
17 December, 2017CHL talent has history of producing gems on American roster
16 December, 2017The matter of talent development in Sweden
16 December, 2017WJC Countdown: Tavares’ MVP showing and Eberle’s clutch goal lead Canada to fifth-straight gold
15 December, 2017Makar looking to join rare group of Canadian NCAA stars
15 December, 2017A beginner’s guide to the CHL
14 December, 2017Cool as a cucumber – Rasmus Dahlin ready to embrace the pressure of the WJC
14 December, 2017Is Canada leaving too much skill at home?
14 December, 2017Is Flyers’ prospect Hart a lock for the Canadian starter’s job?
14 December, 2017Edmonton Oilers give Kailer Yamamoto the chance to shine at the WJC
13 December, 2017The Olympic Kids – prospects that starred on the big stage
13 December, 2017Can any of the WJC underdogs break through in Buffalo?  
12 December, 2017A Russian trend – three forwards headed for the first round?
12 December, 2017Deep Russian squad looks to extend medal streak 
11 December, 2017The 2018 WJC underdog that could win it all
11 December, 2017The World Junior Championships – an audition for the Olympics
10 December, 2017Sweden’s elite talent looks to end cycle of WJC mediocrity
10 December, 2017Lukas Vejdemo – taking the patient route to the NHL
09 December, 2017Nicklas Lidström on Rasmus Dahlin: “He looks like Brian Leetch”
09 December, 2017Where are they now? – Three forgotten WJC stars
08 December, 2017Breaking down Team Canada’s roster snubs
08 December, 2017Finland on the rebound after disastrous showing at last year’s WJC 
07 December, 2017Away from the spotlight
07 December, 2017Why Adam Boqvist wasn’t picked for the Swedish WJC camp
06 December, 2017Aleksi Heponiemi – Poised for success
06 December, 2017The hunt for the next Erik Karlsson
06 December, 2017Americans look to finally come through on home ice 
05 December, 2017Canada no longer dominates the WJC like they used to 
05 December, 2017Redefining the modern defenseman
05 December, 2017What the Swedish WJC team should look like