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Grading each NHL team's prospects' performance at the WJHC


Yet another thrilling edition of the World Junior Championship is in the rearview mirror.

A U.S. squad full of NHL-drafted talent went undefeated en route to gold, while a Canadian squad with a similar amount of NHL draftees flamed out in the quarters.

It's time to break down how each team's prospects fared at the 2024 edition of the tournament.

Note: The Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, and Edmonton Oilers had no prospects play at the world juniors.

Anaheim Ducks

Representatives (2): Rodwin Dionicio (SUI), Noah Warren (CAN)

Dionicio was superb for Switzerland, ranking top 10 in cumulative game score, per Elite Prospects' tracking. He was the only Swiss player to average over 20 minutes per game and won his minutes 5-2 at five-on-five.

Warren was a fine defensive second-pairing blue-liner for Canada.

Grade: B

Arizona Coyotes

Representatives (7): Samu Bau (FIN), Conor Geekie (CAN), Michael Hrabal (CZE), Maveric Lamoureux (CAN), Julian Lutz (GER), Melker Thelin (SWE), Adam Zlnka (SVK)

Lamoureux anchored Canada's top pairing with Denton Mateychuk, playing over 24 minutes per game, and won his five-on-five minutes 5-1. He was leaned on to take a bigger role than anticipated with Tristan Luneau's absence, and he excelled.

Geekie had positive moments for Canada but ultimately wasn't the game-breaker the team needed in big games. Hrabal was good against Canada and the U.S. but faltered in marquee spots in the semis and the bronze-medal game.

Grade: C+

Boston Bruins

Representatives (2): Dans Locmelis (LAT), Matt Poitras (CAN)

Expectations for Poitras were high as Canada's only addition from the NHL. He was consistent but never truly became the game-changer Canada was hoping he could be as the tournament progressed.

In a much different situation, Locmelis was the player Latvia needed him to be to avoid relegation. He played over 20 minutes per game and was particularly good in Latvia's significant 6-2 victory against Germany.

Grade: B-

Buffalo Sabres


Representatives (6): Jiri Kulich (CZE), Noah Ostlund (SWE), Norwin Panocha (GER), Matt Savoie (CAN), Maxim Strbak (SVK), Anton Wahlberg (SWE)

Kulich led Czechia to a bronze medal with a tournament-best 12 points. Though he didn't get recognition on the All-Star team, there's a strong case that Ostlund was Sweden's best forward. And Strbak made playing over 23 minutes a game as an 18-year-old blue-liner look remarkably easy.

At the same time, Savoie's lack of production was one of the biggest disappointments of the tournament. He created looks, but the lack of finish was a factor in Canada's early dismissal.

Grade: A-

Calgary Flames

Representatives (1): Samuel Honzek (SVK)

Honzek scored in the opening three games for Slovakia, and they won them all. He failed to score against the U.S. and Finland, and Slovakia lost both. The 2023 first-rounder was good in a secondary role but needed to break through in big games if Slovakia was to go deeper.

Grade: C+

Carolina Hurricanes

Representatives (2): Felix Unger Sorum (SWE), Jakub Vondras (CZE)

Unger Sorum was among the best bottom-six forwards at the tournament. He only played 14:35 per game but notched six points, won his five-on-five minutes 8-2, and was excellent in transition.

Vondras' lone appearance came in relief in the bronze-medal game.

Grade: B

Chicago Blackhawks

Representatives (6): Adam Gajan (SVK), Gavin Hayes (USA), Martin Misiak (SVK), Oliver Moore (USA), Frank Nazar (USA), Sam Rinzel (USA)

After an injury-shortened season last year, how great is it to see Nazar back and excelling? As the United States' second-line center, Nazar racked up a tournament-best five primary assists at five-on-five.

Gajan had an exceptional start to the tournament but faltered against Norway and, most importantly, Finland in the quarterfinals.

Grade: B-

Columbus Blue Jackets

Representatives (4): Gavin Brindley (USA), Jordan Dumais (CAN), Oiva Keskinen (FIN), Denton Mateychuk (CAN)

Mateychuk was easily Canada's best defenseman. He played huge minutes - 24:33 a game, to be exact - and was among the tournament's best in transition, per Elite Prospects' tracking.

Brindley was effective all tournament long. On the other hand, Dumais' lack of production was very underwhelming, while Keskinen was good but not great in Finland's middle six.

Grade: B

Detroit Red Wings


Representatives (5): Trey Augustine (USA), Kevin Bicker (GER), Nate Danielson (CAN), Anton Johansson (SWE), Axel Sandin Pellikka (SWE)

Augustine should've won the top goaltender award. He was outstanding all tournament, and the only reason he didn't was because he missed a pair of games with illness. Oh, and he can return next year for the United States.

Sandin Pellikka was named the top defenseman by the IIHF directorate, led Sweden in minutes, and contributed to some significant goals. But he wasn't a huge factor at five-on-five, which prevented him from landing on the All-Star team as voted on by the media.

Grade: B+

Florida Panthers

Representatives (2): Marek Alscher (CZE), Sandis Vilmanis (LAT)

Vilmanis saved his best game for when it mattered most against Germany. Alscher was decent at best in defensive usage for Czechia.

Grade: C

Los Angeles Kings

Representatives (1): Otto Salin (FIN)

Salin's role diminished as the tournament progressed. He was outscored 4-2 at five-on-five and didn't contribute much on the scoresheet.

Grade: D

Minnesota Wild

Representatives (3): Rasmus Kumpulainen (FIN), Liam Ohgren (SWE), Servac Petrovsky (SVK)

Few were as good in group play as Petrovsky. He was great in his own zone and was the finisher that Filip Mesar needed on his line.

Ohgren, meanwhile, left a lot to be desired. As Sweden's captain and in his third world juniors, he failed to score a goal on 26 shots, didn't record a point at even strength, and was outscored 3-1 at five-on-five.

Grade: B-

Montreal Canadiens

Representatives (4): Owen Beck (CAN), Jacob Fowler (USA), Lane Hutson (USA), Filip Mesar (SVK)

Hutson didn't dominate the tournament in the way some expected him to, but he still led the gold-medal-winning team in minutes, racked up seven points, and outscored the opposition 10-4 at five-on-five.

Mesar was similarly great. Dominant in transition, he would've made the tournament All-Star team had Slovakia won in overtime against Finland in the quarters.

As Canada's only returnee, Beck underwhelmed with one goal. He was good in a checking role, but Canada ultimately needed him to be more.

Grade: A-

Nashville Predators

Representatives (2): Kasper Kulonummi (FIN), Matthew Wood (CAN)

Kulonummi anchored Finland's top pairing, playing over 22 minutes a game. Wood didn't play much for Canada but scored a marquee goal in the quarters against Czechia.

Grade: C+

New Jersey Devils


Representatives (2): Seamus Casey (USA), Lenni Hameenaho (FIN)

Casey didn't play a huge role for the Americans - that went to Lane Hutson - but was exceptional in a secondary position. He won his five-on-five minutes 10-2 and ranked top five among defenders in scoring despite missing a game. Hameenaho was consistently dangerous around the net front.

Grade: A-

New York Islanders

Representatives (2): Quinn Finley (USA), Danny Nelson (USA)

Neither Nelson nor Finley played big roles for the Americans en route to gold but were fine in largely fourth-line minutes.

Grade: C+

New York Rangers

Representatives (3): Drew Fortescue (USA), Gabe Perreault (USA), Adam Sykora (SVK)

Perreault continues to excel wherever he plays. From the U.S. NTDP to under-18s, NCAA, and now the world juniors, all he does is put up points.

Sykora, an AHL regular this season, tallied only two points in big minutes with Slovakia. He was good defensively, but Slovakia needed its captain to provide more offensively.

Grade: B

Ottawa Senators

Representatives (3): Jorian Donovan (CAN), Tomas Hamara (CZE), Oskar Pettersson (SWE)

Hamara was Czechia's top blue-liner, playing over 23 minutes per game and quarterbacking the power play. He wasn't the tournament's best by any means, but he adequately filled a significant role on a Czech back end that lost the likes of David Jiricek, Stanislav Svozil, and David Spacek from a year ago.

Donovan played a minimal role as an injury replacement, while Pettersson was a fourth-liner for Sweden.

Grade: B-

Philadelphia Flyers

Representatives (3): Oliver Bonk (CAN), Alex Ciernik (SVK), Cutter Gauthier (USA)

It was slightly surprising that Gauthier led the tournament in assists rather than goals. Still, the top-five pick was vital to the United States' gold-medal efforts as he co-led the event in scoring and landed on the media All-Star team.

The deflection off him that ended Canada's tournament overshadowed Bonk's performance, which was impressive for an 18-year-old blue-liner. Canada outscored opponents 7-3 with Bonk on the ice at five-on-five, and he got minutes on the second power-play unit.

Note: Gauthier was traded to the Anaheim Ducks after publishing.

Grade: A

Pittsburgh Penguins


Representatives (3): Kalle Kangas (FIN), Emil Pieniniemi (FIN), Brayden Yager (CAN)

If Alan Letang had a do-over, Yager likely would've played a much bigger role for Canada. Despite playing the 10th-most minutes among Canadian forwards, he was second on the team in scoring and won his five-on-five minutes 7-1 - the best differential for any Canadian.

The duo of Kangas and Pieniniemi weren't notable on the Finnish blue line.

Grade: B

San Jose Sharks

Representatives (6): Filip Bystedt (SWE), Jake Furlong (CAN), Kasper Halttunen (FIN), Mattias Havelid (SWE), Eric Pohlkamp (USA), Will Smith (USA)

It came as no surprise that Smith found success alongside his Boston College teammates, racking up seven primary points at five-on-five.

Bystedt wasn't as much of a factor as anticipated, while Havelid was usurped on the depth chart by the likes of Theo Lindstein and Tom Willander.

Furlong was a pleasant surprise on Canada's back end, providing strong defensive minutes in a top-four role. And Halttunen's wicked shot was on full display with 30 shots on goal while averaging only 14:26 per contest.

Grade: B+

Seattle Kraken

Representatives (6): Zeb Forsfjall (SWE), Niklas Kokko (FIN), Ty Nelson (CAN), Jani Nyman (FIN), Carson Rehkopf (CAN), Eduard Sale (CZE)

Nyman led the tournament in shots with 40 but only managed to score twice. A bit more puck luck for him, and we're talking about Nyman as one of the stars of the event.

Sale was productive for Czechia, while Nelson and Rehkopf impressed in small usage for Canada. Kokko didn't have a great showing as Finland's starter.

Grade: B

St. Louis Blues

Representatives (7): Dalibor Dvorsky (SVK), Aleksanteri Kaskimaki (FIN), Theo Lindstein (SWE), Juraj Pekarcik (SVK), Jimmy Snuggerud (USA), Jakub Stancl (SVK), Otto Stenberg (SWE)

Snuggerud missed a game but still registered five goals and eight points while battling illness. Stenberg potted five as well and can return next year. And how about Lindstein? He wasn't even on Sweden's initial roster and ended up on the media All-Star team with eight points and a plus-9 goal differential at five-on-five.

That's not all. Dvorsky was dominant in transition en route to six points. Stancl, Kaskimaki, and Pekarcik were all effective in their own right for their teams, too.

Grade: A+

Tampa Bay Lightning

Representatives (1): Isaac Howard (USA)

If it wasn't evident with his play at Michigan State, Howard has his swagger back. The co-leader in goals with seven, the U.S. outscored the opposition 11-1 with him on the ice at five-on-five. Oh, and he scored twice in the gold-medal game.

Grade: A+

Toronto Maple Leafs


Representatives (2): Easton Cowan (CAN), Fraser Minten (CAN)

In retrospect, Minten should've been used in a defensive role rather than playing in the top six. He was good in his own zone but failed to provide the dynamic, breakthrough offense required of a Canadian top-six forward who also features on the No. 1 power-play unit.

Cowan was good in a bottom-six role and wasn't on the ice for a five-on-five goal against. He's set for a bigger spot in Canada's lineup next year.

Grade: C

Vancouver Canucks

Representatives: Jonathan Lekkerimaki (SWE), Elias Pettersson (SWE), Tom Willander (SWE)

Lekkerimaki surged late in the tournament to snag MVP honors in a silver-medal effort. His one-timer was near automatic down the stretch, firing nine shots on goal against both Switzerland and Czechia in elimination games.

But don't overlook Willander. The right-shot blue-liner was superb in his own zone, outscoring opponents 11-2 at five-on-five. And Pettersson was Axel Sandin Pellikka's counterpart on the top pairing, playing over 20 minutes a night.

Grade: A+

Vegas Golden Knights

Representatives: David Edstrom (SWE), Arttu Karki (FIN), Matyas Sapovaliv (CZE)

Sapovaliv was good in the defensive zone, but Czechia was likely hoping for more offense from the three-time world junior veteran. Karki had an up-and-down tournament, and Edstrom was effective in Sweden's middle six.

Grade: C

Washington Capitals

Representatives: Ryan Chesley (USA), Ryan Leonard (USA)

Leonard loves to break Swedish hearts. He did it at the under-18s, where he scored the golden goal in overtime, and did it again on Friday with a late dagger and a kiss to the crowd.

Chesley was the perfect counterpart to Hutson's electric offense. The U.S. won his minutes 9-2, and he allowed Hutson to do his thing.

Grade: A

Winnipeg Jets

Representatives: Rutger McGroarty (USA), Elias Salomonsson (SWE), Fabian Wagner (SWE)

McGroarty returned from injury just in time for the tournament opener, and he never looked back. The American captain was a two-way beast throughout the event.

Salomonsson and Wagner played smaller roles for Sweden.

Grade: B+

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