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World Championship: What We Learned, Part 1

Visual evidence that Silfverberg was actually at the WC
Visual evidence that Silfverberg was actually at the WC

Just getting around to posting some observations from the 2012 World Championship that wrapped up this past weekend. I've broken the players into three groups, the first group today are those that either missed the tournament for various reasons or were at the tournament but didn't see much action... so we'll give these guys an "incomplete" grade.

Evgeny Kuznetsov, RW, RUS - Not a half-bad year for the young Russian as he was MVP & won a silver medal at the WJC, was top 20 in KHL scoring with 26+24=50 in 61 (regular & playoff) games and the cherry on top was a gold medal at the WC. Kuznetsov started the tourney taking a regular shift but by the end he barely saw the ice (he didn't play a single shift in the gold medal game). He signed on for a few more years in the KHL, so we'll have plenty of time to keep evaluating him before he makes the jump to Washington.

Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, RUS - The kid was a beast in the KHL playoffs (10+6=16 in 15 games) but was cut from the WC team as the coaching staff said he was out-of-shape. Sounds like politics here as the Russians want to convince him to stay in the KHL next season but Tarasenko is on the fence. He likely wants assurances from the Blues that he can return to the KHL over playing in the AHL if there is a NHL work stoppage. If there is an NHL season, he should be in St. Louis for the whole year but I'm not expecting big things as Hitchcock hasn't always handled his young Russians perfectly.

Sami Vatanen, D, FIN - One of my favourite prospects continues to impress as he led all SM-Liiga dmen in pts/g with 14+28=42 in 49 games and won the circuit's top dman award for the second year in a row. Unfortunately, he suffered an ankle injury in the playoffs and missed the WC for the second year in a row. The Ducks signed the 20-year-old last summer and it is expected that he'll cross the pond for next season but I'd expect that they'll make him start the year in the AHL.

Roman Cervenka, C, CZE - He missed the WC due to injury but that didn't stop him from signing an NHL contract with the Flames. He has been on the radar of a lot of people for the last couple of years and it seems the Flames are pretty confident that he can step into a major role right away as he'll come with a hefty cap hit for next season.

Jakob Silfverberg, LW, SWE - Dream season for the kid as he was the SEL regular season & playoff MVP, 2nd leading scorer (37+37=74 in 66 (regular & playoff) games) and captained the SEL champs... all as a 21-year-old. But he had to take a backseat to his elders at the WC as he was 10th amongst Swedish forwards in avg TOI (13:40/gm) and managed just two goals. He already has a couple of NHL playoff games under his belt for the Senators and expect him to be inserted into the top 6 forwards from the opening day of training camp next season.

Calle Jarnkrok, C, SWE - He was a top 15 SEL scorer this year with 20+35=55 in 66 (regular & playoff) games but didn't deliver at the WC in limited minutes (1A in 12:39/gm of ice time). So the kid likely needs more seasoning, good thing he's a Red Wings pick as they are more than happy to wait.

Johan Larsson, C, SWE - He was the leading U20 scorer in the SEL this season (12+24=36 in 49 games) and captained the WJC team to gold but his selection for the WC team has likely with the future in mind as he averaged just 8:43/gm during the tournament. So it was hard to get a handle on how ready he is for NA as the Minny prospect is likely to start in the AHL next season.

Cam Atkinson, RW, USA - I think this kid is flying under the radar of a lot of fantasy GMs as he played 27 games with the CBJs this season (7+7=14) and was sneaky-good in the AHL with 29 goals in 50 games. So I was looking forward to seeing him against world class competition but he only played 12:02/gm and finished with 1+2=3 in eight games.

J.T. Brown, RW, USA - The undrafted college FA who was signed by Tampa in March was a bit of a surprise selection to the team and maybe it was a surprise to the coaching staff as well as they only gave him 5:40/gm in ice-time in six games. I liked his game in college and think there is some upside here but he was likely in a little over his head at the WC and I wouldn't be expecting fireworks from him right away.

Joonas Jarvinen, D, FIN - Never head of this guy but he caught my eye while scanning the Finnish roster before the tourney began as he had a nice season with 8+21=29 & 141 PIMs in 74 (regular & playoff) games in the SM-Liiga this year. There was a rumour that he caught the eye of NHL scouts as well but he didn't really standout to me when I watched the Finns play and he finished the WC with 3A & 15:00/gm in 10 games.

Konstantin Barulin, G, RUS - The 27-year-old keeper had another strong regular season & playoffs in the KHL this year but was relegated to second fiddle at the WC due to Semyon Varlamov. I've been impressed with this guy and would like to see an NHL team give him a shot at some point.

Lars Volden, G, NOR - The Norwegians were a pleasant surprise in the tournament as they advanced to the QFs and played it tight against the Russians but that didn't have much to do with Volden who only saw action in one game and was beaten four times on 46 shots versus the Russians in the prelim round. He didn't fare so well in the Finnish league this year but the Bruins prospect is just 19 so let's be patient.