It's the biggest international stage apart from the Olympics, a place where stars can be born and young players are able to give a sneak peek of their talent. Between Christmas and New Year ten teams battle for the crown at the World Juniors 2014 in Malmö, Sweden. Amongst them, three Bruins prospects on three different teams.
The reigning World Junior Champions from Team USA are stacked with New England natives such as B's prospect an Assistant Captain Matt Grzelcyk. The 19-year old who's already won a gold-medal at the under 18 WJC had a breakout season in '12-'13 with 23 points in 38 games, leading all defenseman on the Boston University roster. Grzelcyk played two years alongside last years first round pick Seth Jones in the US National Development Program, before beeing drafted 85th overall by the Bruins in 2012.
This years 4th round Bruins pick Ryan Fitzgerald didn't make the cut for the final roster, but was included in the US selection camp. The brother of Bruins Asst. Director of Amateur Scouting Scott Fitzgerald has played in 16 games for Boston College this year, recording 15 points including 7 goals.
Team USA also includes New England natives Jon Gilles (Goalie Providence College / Flames pick), Adam Erne (Winger Québec / Bolts pick), Jack Eichel (Center Boston Univ. / USDP) and Danny O'Regan (Center Boston Univ. / Sharks pick).
Boston college trio Thatcher Demko (Goalie / 2014), Steve Santini (Defender / Devils pick) and Ian McCoshen (Defender / Panthers pick) complete a new generation Team which is trying to defend the title.
This years 2nd round Bruins draft pick Linus Arnesson is part of a very European Swedish team without any outstanding names, apart from Jackets prospects Oscar Dansk and Alex Wennberg. Arnesson is a defensie minded D-men with good mobility and size comparable to Adam McQuaid or recent B's call up Kevan Miller.
His problem might be the fact that he's (only) playing in the 2nd divison in Sweden with Djurgardens where he recorded 4 assists in 27 games so far this season. Apart from that, the Swedish national team has already recognized Arnesson's strength as he's played 31 games for his homecountry during the last 1/2 years. Looking into his future as B's prospect it might be a great step forward to join a Eliteserien team next year in order to compete on a high-level every game. The 19-year old can already show that he's capable of that in this year's World Juniors, his second by the way.
When you score 6 points in your first 8 games after beeing called up to "the big team" expectations are high, thats the case for 18-year old Peter Cehlárik this season. The guy who left his hometown Zilina, Slovakia in order to make his dream come true of beeing an NHL player one day, has the privilege of playing for one of the best teams in Sweden at a young age. Apart from his astonishing debut in the Eliteserien, 37 points in 38 games in Swedens Elite junior league impressed B's scouting department that much, that GM Peter Chiarelli drafted him 90th overall in the 3rd round of this years draft.
Lulea, a team which is experienced in developing top prospects, decided to loan him to second division team Asplöven after a slow start with just 2 points in 18 games, in what was supposed to be his first full season in Sweden's top league. Cehlárik adopted that decison very well and has yet scored 13 points in 17 games with his new team. Lulea has the permission to call him back to his original team at any time this season.
Cehlárik is just one out of three drafted players on a very young Slovakian roster. He was part of the U-18 WJC team which avoided relegation with two wins over Latvia this spring. With 9 points including 4 goals he was the second best scorer for his homecountry.
|I'm trying to coverage as much action as possible from this years World Juniors, focusing on the B's prospects, their teams and my homecountry Germany on their mission to avoid relegation.|