Stars on ice: Top players to watch on each world junior squad
Vancouver, Victoria co-hosting tourney in its return to B.C. for first time since 2006
After 13 years, the world junior hockey championship is back in British Columbia.
Co-hosts Vancouver and Victoria will split first round games as the tournament gets underway Wednesday in both cities.
- Here comes the world: B.C. hosts the world junior hockey championship
- Where's the West Coast? No B.C.-born talent but plenty of Canucks content at world juniors
It concludes Jan. 5 with the gold-medal game at Vancouver's Rogers Arena. Before then, here are some of the players to watch from each of the 10 participating countries.
Cody Glass - C - Drafted 6th overall in 2017 by Vegas Golden Knights
- Expected to be Canada's first-line centre, Glass has exploded offensively for his WHL team this season, recording 54 points in just 26 games with the Portland Winterhawks.
Alexis Lafrenière - LW - 2020 draft eligible
- A potential phenom in the making, Lafrenière will be the first 17-year-old to play for Team Canada since Connor McDavid. He's scored an absurd 54 points in just 31 games for his junior team in Rimouski of the QMJHL and has the ability to emerge as one of the stars of the tournament.
Filip Zadina - LW/RW - Drafted 6th overall in 2018 by Detroit Red Wings
- Zadina hit the net seven times in as many games at last year's world juniors and will be among the most talented goal-scorers in B.C.
Martin Necas - C/RW - Drafted 12th overall in 2017 by Carolina Hurricanes
- Necas was the co-leading scorer of the 2018 world juniors with 11 points in seven games and is known for using his skating and stickhandling to create opportunities.
Mads Sogaard - G - 2019 draft eligible
- The Danish goalie has had a strong final few weeks of 2018 for the Medicine Hat Tigers, awarded the WHL's goalie of the week honour on Dec. 17. A strong run of play has made him a possible selection at next summer's NHL draft.
Kaapo Kakko - RW - 2019 draft eligible
- Kakko has the talent to emerge as the star of the tournament. The 17-year-old has both dynamic playmaking skills as well as strong goal-scoring abilities.
Henri Jokiharju - D - Drafted 29th overall in 2017 by Chicago Blackhawks
- Jokiharju is known as an offensive defenceman, racking up 71 points in 63 games in the WHL last season. Now more than 30 games into his NHL career with Chicago, he's looking to build on last year's world juniors when he scored four points in five games.
Valery Orekhov - D - 2019 draft eligible
- A veteran of parts of two KHL seasons with his home country's Barys Astana, Orekhov will be his country's most experienced player at the world juniors.
Vitali Kravtsov - RW - Drafted 9th overall in 2018 by New York Rangers
- A six-foot-four power forward who at 18 is already in his third season playing against older players with the KHL's Traktor Chelyabinsk. Capable of setting up goals with his physicality or passing, Karvtsov will be counted on to be among Russia's offensive leaders.
Grigori Denisenko - LW - Drafted 15th overall in 2018 by Florida Panthers
- Denisenko is a skilled stickhandler and smooth-striding skater with a reputation of being enigmatic but also excelling at international competitions.
Maxim Cajkovic - LW/RW - 2019 draft eligible
- Cajkovic excelled at the 2018 under-18 championships with 11 points in just five games. He's a highly-skilled puckhandler who is projected to be a first round NHL draft pick this spring.
Adam Boqvist - D - Drafted 8th overall in 2018 by Chicago Blackhawks
- Part of a dynamic Swedish blue-line, Boqvist is an offensive defenceman capable of creating turnovers and leading the attack.
Isac Lundestrom - C - Drafted 23rd overall in 2018 by Anaheim Ducks
- Lundestrom managed 15 NHL games with the Ducks this fall. He's a two-way centre who's shown offensive potential and the skating ability to beat defenders.
Philipp Kurashev - C - Drafted 120th overall in 2018 by Chicago Blackhawks
- Kurashev has averaged better than a point a game with the QMJHL's Quebec Remparts over the past two seasons. This will be the Chicago draft pick's second world juniors after he recorded three points in five games at last year's event.
Jack Hughes - C - 2019 draft eligible
- Jack Hughes is the player people are paying to see at this tournament, and his brother Quinn is no slouch either. The draft-eligible centre is expected to be the first overall pick in the 2019 NHL draft.
Spencer Knight - G - 2019 draft eligible
- Knight will get a chance to backstop a strong U.S. team and is hailed by some scouts as America's best goaltending prospect in a generation.