Young guns at Worlds
Young guns at Worlds
Five youngsters made it from Malmo to Minsk in 2014
There could be a similar number of top prospects in Prague and Ostrava this year.
The most successful of those who appeared at both tournaments last season was Martin Reway, and there's a good chance he'll do it again in 2015. At the recently completed World Juniors in Toronto and Montreal, Slovakia's top prospect gathered 10 points in five games, finishing fifth in tournament scoring and leading the Slovaks to the bronze medal.
Reway didn’t help his team to advance to the quarter-finals in Sweden in 2014, but his performance amazed senior national team coach Vladimir Vujtek so much that he selected him to play with the men in Minsk.
Reway was picked 116th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, and he certainly made an impact at the Worlds. His three assists in seven games, combined with the season he's having so far, put him in a good chance to be picked to play in the World Championships again when the Slovak team is expected to have a home-ice atmosphere in its group not far from the Czech-Slovak border in Ostrava.
Another highly rated prospect at the World Junior Championship in Malmo was Germany's Leon Draisaitl, who was eventually picked third overall by the Edmonton Oilers in 2014. The son of Peter Draisatl, a German coach with Czech roots, Leon tallied six points in six games, helping Germany retain its place among the elite.
Just as Reway, the young Draisaitl played later that year at the Worlds in Belarus. He scored once and added three assists but the Germans didn't make the quarter-finals. Due to his commitments to the Oilers he was unavailable at this year's World Juniors and, without him, the Germans were relegated.Continue reading
The most visible youngster at Worlds in multiple categories was probably Swiss talent Kevin Fiala, who appeared at three tournaments – the U20s in December and January, the U18s in April in Finland and senior Worlds in May. Despite having Czech parents and brilliant knowledge of the Czech language, Fiala decided to play for Switzerland, where he was born and raised. There's a good chance he'll represent the Swiss in the land of his roots this spring.
At the World Junior Championship in Malmo, he managed to collect five points. In April, he was shining at the U18 Worlds with nine points that ranked him sixth among all players. The 11th overall pick of the last draft has raised awareness and got an invitation for the senior tournament as well. In Minsk, the Nashville Predators prospect played seven games in which he had two assists.
The two remaining players who saw action at both the junior and senior Worlds were two netminders. Russian Andrei Vasilevski was one of the best in Malmo with a save percentage of 93.3 and four wins in six games, which helped his team win the bronze medal. However, the very best goalie was Finn Juuse Saros, who lost only one of his six games, helping “Suomi” win the gold with a fantastic 94.3 percentage.
Five months later, both of them peeked from behind the curtain in Minsk, but only Vasilevski started a game. Two games, actually. He was scored on only once during his time between the pipes, eventually celebrating a World Championship victory with the Russians.
Reway, Fiala and Saros are all primed to accomplish the double feat for the second year in a row. Who else performed well enough in Canada to get invited to the Czech Republic?
Back to Overview