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Dec 13The Olympic Kids – prospects that starred on the big stage
Dec 13Can any of the WJC underdogs break through in Buffalo?  
Dec 12A Russian trend – three forwards headed for the first round?
Dec 12Deep Russian squad looks to extend medal streak 
Dec 11The 2018 WJC underdog that could win it all
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December 07, 2017

Away from the spotlight

In the quaint little ski resort of Méribel, nestled deep in the French Alps, hockey isn’t exactly on the everyday agenda. Replace skates with skis and hockey tickets with ski lift passes and you might be on to something. Yet it is here – far away from the glamour of NHL scouts, outdoor games and international broadcasts – that the second division of the 2018 World Junior Championships in hockey will set up shop to determine which team will be allowed back into the WJC spotlight for the 2019 tournament.

From December 10th to December 17th, the six participating nations (Latvia, Germany, France, Kazakhstan, Austria and Hungary) will lock horns in an intense tournament that is fully built around the group stage due to its lack of playoffs. Only the team that finishes in first place is promoted to the top division which means that in this tournament, every game matters. In this tournament, there are no such things as “starting slow” or “peaking too early”.

If you’re not ready to play at first puck-drop, you might find yourself exploring a new ski resort next season.

Last year, Latvia fell from grace in the top division after having the utter misfortune of having to play the defending junior champions Finland in the relegation round. On the other end of the spectrum, Hungary finished at the very top of the third WJC division in the 2017 tournament and is therefore allowed a chance to compete in the second division this year.

If you find yourself wondering how talented these teams actually are you are probably not alone, so in an effort to temporarily shift some of the spotlight away from the Buffalo tournament and give WJC Division 1A its due, here is a look at a couple of players that could very well be worth the price of admission themselves:

Leon Gawanke, Germany – Gawanke, a sturdy if somewhat unspectacular defender, was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets in the 5th round, 136th overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. The only German player drafted this summer, this 99-born defender has been a key player for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the QMJHL both this season and last. While the Winnipeg Jets will be following Gawankes progress in the tournament with great interest, what should have the Germans breathing sighs of relief is that he is eligible to play in the 2019 WJC tournament as well.

Alexandre Texier, France – A total of three players have been drafted out of France in the past 16 (!) drafts and none as high as Texier when he went to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the second round, 45th overall, in 2017. In fact, since the first French player was drafted in 1971 only one player has ever been drafted higher than Texier: Paulin Bordeleau in 1973. If that doesn’t set the bar high amongst his compatriots, then I don’t know what does. Currently playing in Finnish Liiga for KalPa, this speedy stickhandler has the skill and determination to carry the French team to promotion in front of its home fans.

@TheAlphaFuryan

Hampus Duvefelt



13 December, 2017

The Olympic Kids – prospects that starred on the big stage

The other day, we were looking at some of the players that might turn WJC success into a chance to compete at the Olympics in South Korea in February. If player...

13 December, 2017

Can any of the WJC underdogs break through in Buffalo?  

It?s known who the Big 5 at the World Juniors are, as Canada, the United States, Sweden, Russia, and Finland historically form the top half of the tournament. B...

12 December, 2017

A Russian trend – three forwards headed for the first round?

It has been almost a decade since it happened the last time. To be specific, the year was 2010 and the players were Alexander Burmistrov, Vladimir Tarasenko and...

12 December, 2017

Deep Russian squad looks to extend medal streak 

Though Russia hasn?t had many household names on their World Junior rosters recently, they?ve seen major success at the tournament.  Last year, Russia went 2-2 ...

11 December, 2017

The 2018 WJC underdog that could win it all

Everyone loves an underdog. Be it professional sports, fictional stories or real life tales ? there are few things quite as stirring as watching an unlikely her...

11 December, 2017

The World Junior Championships – an audition for the Olympics

There will be more than medals at stake during the World Juniors in Buffalo later this month. The NHL’s decision to stop their players from participating ...

10 December, 2017

Sweden’s elite talent looks to end cycle of WJC mediocrity

 Sweden has had an underwhelming run at the World Juniors the last few years. But this year, things could change.  In each of the past three tournaments, Sweden...

10 December, 2017

Lukas Vejdemo – taking the patient route to the NHL

It’s a hockey debate that always seem to be raging in Sweden. On one hand, you have the people that feel it’s better for a prospect to stay on home ...

09 December, 2017

Nicklas Lidström on Rasmus Dahlin: “He looks like Brian Leetch”

There’s been no shortage of homages for Rasmus Dahlin this season. The projected first overall pick in the 2018 NHL entry draft has taken the hockey world...

09 December, 2017

Where are they now? – Three forgotten WJC stars

Whenever you come across a story entitled ?where are they now?, it is usually a foregone conclusion that the story will feature individuals who at one time perf...

08 December, 2017

Breaking down Team Canada’s roster snubs

On Wednesday, Canada announced its preliminary roster for the World Junior Hockey tournament via an extravagant ceremony in St. Catharines, Ontario. For the 32 ...

08 December, 2017

Finland on the rebound after disastrous showing at last year’s WJC 

It was nothing short of a disaster for Finland at last year?s World Juniors in Toronto and Montreal.  The Finns won just one game in the group stage and finishe...

07 December, 2017

Why Adam Boqvist wasn’t picked for the Swedish WJC camp

An abundance of riches? Well, Team Sweden will certainly have some quality on the backend at this year’s WJC in Buffalo. So much so that coach Tomas Monté...

07 December, 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 opp...