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WJC - What We Saw

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Coyle & Palmieri are two prospects who raised their standing in our eyes at the WJCs
Coyle & Palmieri are two prospects who raised their standing in our eyes at the WJCs

Alright, the WJCs are over, once again it was an exciting tournament with lots to digest.  Prior to the start we gave you a list of prospects that we'd be watching throughout the tournament and and after the round-robin we noted a few players we wanted to see more of so let's close the loop by reviewing what we saw from those players and touch on a few others that caught our eye (sorry for the long read but that's what happens when you watch way too much hockey)...

Jaden Schwartz, CAN, F - we said before the tournament that he was the guy from Canada we were most interested in seeing but we all didn't get to see much as he played in essentially one game putting up 1+2=3 before shutting it down with a fractured ankle... tough break as I thought he had a chance to really shine here.

Cody Eakin, CAN, F - we were looking for offense from him but he was banged up and was counted on for his energy more than his scoring.  Only 1+2=3 in seven games but we still think he has a nice future with the Capitals and should make the jump to the NHL next season.

Martin Frk, CZE, F - the 17-year-old who's not even eligible for the draft until 2012 did not disappoint as he was 2nd on the Czech's in scoring with 3+3=6 in six games.  This was my first look at him and I was very impressed, just wish we didn't have to wait so long.

Sami Vatanen, FIN, D - really like this kid but have to admit that I was a little disappointed as he finished with only four assists in six games and didn't dominate like I thought a guy with his experience would.  Back to the SM-Liiga for him where he's showing well and hopefully we'll get another look at him with Finland at the World Championships in the spring.

Joni Ortio, FIN, G - he impressed me this year as only Campbell was better between the pipes... he finished with a 1.86 gaa & .931 sv%, drastic improvement on the 3.02 & .844 he put up at last year's WJC.  Still years away from the NHL but he's showing some nice progress.

Joel Armia, FIN, F - we shouldn't have expected a lot from a 17-year-old but I guess we did as we were a little let down by his showing with only 1A in six games... but he still looks like a solid prospect for the 2011 draft and we'll be expecting big things from him at next year's tourney.

Tobias Rieder, GER, F - hard to get excited about any of the Germans as the team only managed eight goals (in six games) for the tournament.  Rieder had 1+1=2 in six games, given how his team performed, that's not bad for a 17-year-old. 

Lars Volden, NOR, G - not surprisingly, Volden was roughed up during the tournament, finishing with the worst gaa (6.17) and sv% (.857) of all regular goalies but he also faced an average of 43 shots/60mins and didn't get a lot of support... he's got a long way to go.

Vladimir Tarasenko, RUS, F - going into the tourney we had this to say, "his production has disappointed a little in the KHL this year (8+8=16 in 35 games), so we'll be looking for him to dominate kids in his own age group"...  I wouldn't classify it as a dominant performance but a very good one as he finished with 4+7=11 in seven games (tied for 2nd in tournament scoring).  We're very high on him and his performance here did nothing to change our opinion. 

Artemy Panarin, RUS, F - We've been talking this kid up since the Super Series due to the fact that he was the leading U20 scorer in the KHL when he left for the tour (currently 3rd behind Tarasenko & Kuznetsov)... he didn't light it up during the tournament (3+2=5) but showed a flair for the dramatic as he scored twice in the final (including the GWG).  He's still a loooonnggg-shot to make the NHL but we'll keep our eye on him.

Dmitri Orlov, RUS, D - he finished with 1+8=9 & a plus-10 and was a deserving member of the tournament all-star team (probably should have been named the top dman).  His stature grew in my eyes as his international experience and regular playing time in the KHL means that he shouldn't be too far off from making his way over to DC and suiting up for the Capitals.

Benjamin Conz, SUI, G - he followed up his goalie of the tournament nod from last year's WJC by posting significantly better numbers (2.97 & .918 compared to 4.76 & .893 last year) and he kept his team in every game.  NHL scouts are a fickle bunch so who knows what holes they see in his game but I would think there's enough potential here for a team to take a chance on him at the draft.  Not worth any action yet from fantasy GMs but definitely a name to keep filed away in your prospect databank.

Inti Pestoni, SUI, F - easily led the Swiss team in scoring with 5+2=7 in six games but he's an undrafted 5'7" Swissman, so chances of him getting a shot in the NHL and being fantasy worth are oh so slim.

Martin Marincin, SVK, D - he came in as the leading scoring dman in the WHL but his tournament was cut short after he was suspended for four games following a hit to the head of Jason Zucker.

Gabriel Landeskog, SWE, F - it was very disappointing to not see this kid play more as he only played the first game against Norway and then missed the rest of the tournament due to a high ankle sprain.

Calle Jarnkrok, SWE, F - not a dominant performance (2+3=5 in six games) but you can tell this kid is a player and given that he's the leading U20 scorer in the SEL and a Wings draft pick, he's a prospect worth owning as you know they're going to develop him the right way, you just have to be patient.

Patrick Cehlin, SWE, F - he was probably the guy that raised his stock the most in my eyes as he looked like a threat whenever I saw him play.  He tied for the team lead in scoring with 4+2=6 in six games it looks like the Predators may have another late round Swedish steal, ala Patric Hornqvist.

Tim Erixon, SWE, D - we like this kid as he's done well in prior international events and is producing in the SEL but he didn't live up to expectations here as he should have been one of the top dmen in the tournament but finished with only 1+2=3 in six games.

Jeremy Morin, USA, F - he was banged up early in the tournament and while he tried to play through it he wasn't himself with only 1A in four games.

Justin Faulk, USA, D - showed a little of the offensive skill we expected from him (1+3=4 in six games) but he didn't really excite us... but as we said before the tournament, "the US had a strong class of dmen, so just for him to make the squad was impressive".

Charlie Coyle, USA, F - we thought he may have to take a backseat to all the returning US forwards but he wouldn't have any of that as he tied for the team scoring lead with 2+4=6 in six games and was in the middle of a lot of good things that the US accomplished.  We liked the numbers he's put up at BU so far this year and we're even more excited about the SJ 1st rounder now.

Drew Shore, USA, F - coming in we said that he was "probably the surprise of the NCAA season for us as the UofDenver soph. has taken off with 14+11=25 in 20 games this year" and that we thought he was "more of a complimentary player so lets see how he does on the big stage"... well after 2+0=2 in six games, that screams complimentary player to us.  Doesn't mean we're writing him off, just taking his breakout college season with a grain of salt.

Nick Bjugstad, USA, F - tantalizing prospect as he has the whole package but he's only put up 2+2=4 in 13 games at UofMinn. this year so we wanted to see more from him and while he showed some flashes with 2+2=4 in six games, there wasn't enough there to get me as excited about him as Pierre McGuire was.


So those were the guys who we were paying special attention to and here are a few that caught our eye, for various reasons, during the tournament:

Ryan Johansen, CAN, F - I've been a big doubter of his as he came out of nowhere last year and isn't producing like I thought he should this year but he was impressive during the tournament with 3+6=9 in seven games, making the tournament all-star team, and you'd have to think if he gets stronger that he'll be in the NHL next season.

Brett Connolly, CAN, F - he was likely playing hurt and didn't see a ton of quality ice-time but I was pretty disappointed with 0+3=3 & eight shots (in seven games) from Tampa's 6th overall pick in 2010.

Toni Rajala, FIN, F - I was high on him during his draft year as he was named the Top Forward at the U18s in 2009 and then raised his profile playing in the WHL for Brandon last year but he looks to have regressed and could only manage 0+4=4 in six games.

Evgeny Kuznetsov, RUS, F - not sure if it was the hi-lite reel plays or the clutch scoring but this guy has come out of the tournament as King Shit in a lot of people's eyes.  Granted he was tied for 2nd in tournament scoring (4+7=11) and made the tournament all-star team but maybe I'm just not willing to buy into the hype or maybe it's the Russian factor and the uncertainty of when he'll show up in Washington.  If you own him, I'd seriously look to capitalize on his new found fame and see if you can sell high here.

Nino Niederreiter, SUI, F - there was a fair bit of magic & good fortune that went into last year's 6+4=10 (in seven games) showing at the WJCs but we expected more than 2+2=4 in six games from him as a follow-up this year.

Richard Panik, SVK, F - finished 2nd in tournament goal scoring with 7+2=9 in six games but 6+2=8 of that came in three games against relegation pool teams whereas he only had one goal in three games against the US, Finland & the Swiss... so don't be misled.

Kyle Palmieri, USA, F - have seen him play a few times and he never impressed me that much but he's starting to grow on me as he showed some nice vision, racking up 2+4=6 in six games.  The fact that he's already putting up some points in the AHL (9+4=13 in 20 games) and has seen 10 NHL games this year also helps his cause as he's a lot closer to an NHL job then a lot of these prospects.

Jerry D`Amigo, USA, F - he tied for 3rd in scoring with 6+6=12 (in seven games) at last year's WJC and has the added benefit of AHL experience this year but maybe he's lacking the confidence as he was a big flop with only 1+1=2 in six games.