Day: December 23, 2021

2022 World Junior Championship Group B preview

Mike G. Morreale –

Jake Sanderson, selected No. 5 by the Ottawa Senators in the 2020 NHL Draft, is looking forward to having the opportunity to make history as a member of the United States at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship.

The United States will try to win back-to-back titles for the first time after defeating Canada 2-0 in the 2021 championship game. Canada was the last team to do so, winning five straight from 2005-09.

Sanderson, a 19-year-old sophomore defenseman at the University of North Dakota, had two assists and was plus-7 while averaging 18:04 in ice time in seven games at the 2021 WJC. On Tuesday, he was named United States captain for the tournament.

“One thing that played a big part in the success we had was coming together as a team as fast as we could,” Sanderson said. “It’s a pretty quick tournament and there are a lot of games in a short amount of time. The team that comes together, builds chemistry, and trusts each other the fastest is going to have success. And that’s what our group did last year.”

Canada is the host country for the 2022 WJC, scheduled for Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Red Deer and Edmonton.

The United States is scheduled to play preliminary-round games at WP Centrium in Red Deer in Group B with Russia, Sweden, Slovakia and Switzerland. Group A consists of Canada, Finland, Czechia, Germany and Austria.

The top four teams in each group will play in the quarterfinals Jan. 2. The semifinals are Jan. 4, and the championship and third-place games are Jan. 5.

Here’s a look at each Group B team, in predicted order of finish:

United States

Coach: Nate Leaman

2022 NHL Draft watch: Logan Cooley, F, USA U-18 (NTDP)

Schedule: Dec. 26, Slovakia (9:30 p.m. ET); Dec. 28, Switzerland (4:30 p.m. ET); Dec. 29, Sweden (9:30 p.m. ET); Dec. 31, Russia (9:30 p.m. ET) 

Outlook: Leaman returns and should again incorporate a fast and supportive game up front and on the back end with the help of returning forwards Matty Beniers (Seattle Kraken), Brett Berard (New York Rangers), and Landon Slaggert (Chicago Blackhawks), and defensemen Brock Faber (Los Angeles Kings), Tyler Kleven (Senators) and Sanderson. Drew Commesso (Blackhawks) may have the edge in goal entering the preliminary-round stage, with Kaidan Mbereko (2022 draft eligible) also competing for playing time. Cooley, an A-rated skater on NHL Central Scouting’s preliminary players to watch list for the 2022 NHL Draft, is second in goals (14) and first in goals per game (1.50) in 20 games for USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program Under-18 Team.


Coach: Sergei Zubov

2022 NHL Draft watch: Danila Yurov, F, Magnitogorsk (RUS); Arseni Koromyslov, D, SKA St. Petersburg 2 (RUS-JR); Vladimir Grudinin, D, CSKA Moscow (RUS)

Schedule: Dec. 26, Sweden (4:30 p.m. ET); Dec. 27, Switzerland (4:30 p.m. ET); Dec. 29, Slovakia (4:30 p.m. ET); Dec. 31, United States (9:30 p.m. ET)

Outlook: Zubov, a Hockey Hall of Famer, replaces fellow Hall of Fame member Igor Larionov, who guided Russia to a fourth-place finish in his only year as coach at the 2021 WJC. The country has finished in the top three in nine of the past 11 tournaments but last won in 2011. Goalie Iaroslav Askarov (Nashville Predators) returns after finishing 3-3 with a 2.50 goals-against average and .913 save percentage in 2021. He highlights a talented roster that includes forwards Nikita Chibrikov (Winnipeg Jets) and Danila Yurov (2022 draft eligible). Returning forward Marat Khusnutdinov (Minnesota Wild), who scored five points (two goals, three assists) while averaging 17:26 in ice time at the 2021 WJC, is captain. Defensemen Shakir Mukhamadullin (New Jersey Devils) will play in the tournament for the second straight year after he averaged a Russia-high 21:04 per game in ice time. Koromyslov (6-3, 180) is a B-rated skater on NHL Central Scouting’s preliminary players to watch list, and forward Matvei Michkov, eligible for the 2023 NHL Draft, is an exceptional talent who may be Russia’s top point producer in the tournament.


Coach: Tomas Monten 

2022 NHL Draft watch: Mans Forsfjall, D, Skelleftea (SWE)

Schedule: Dec. 26, Russia (4:30 p.m. ET); Dec. 27, Slovakia (9:30 p.m. ET); Dec. 29, United States (9:30 p.m. ET); Dec. 31, Switzerland (4:30 p.m. ET)

Outlook: Sweden should be solid in all phases, especially with the return of goalies Jesper Wallstedt (Wild) and Calle Clang (Pittsburgh Penguins), defensemen Emil Andrae (Philadelphia Flyers) and Simon Edvinsson (Detroit Red Wings), and forwards William Eklund (San Jose Sharks), Alexander Holtz (New Jersey Devils), Zion Nybeck (Carolina Hurricanes), Theodor Niederbach(Red Wings) and Oskar Olausson (Colorado Avalanche). Holtz had two assists in six games with the Devils this season; Eklund had four assists in nine games with the Sharks. They were teammates for two seasons (2018-20) with Djurgarden of the Swedish Hockey League and could form a dynamic top line.


Coach: Ivan Fenes

2022 NHL Draft watch: Juraj Slafkovsky, F, TPS (FIN); Filip Mesar, F, Poprad (SVK); Simon Nemec, D, Nitra (SVK)

Schedule: Dec. 26, United States (9:30 p.m. ET); Dec. 27, Sweden (9:30 p.m. ET); Dec. 29, Russia (4:30 p.m. ET); Dec. 30, Switzerland (7 p.m. ET)

Outlook: Slovakia has been eliminated in the quarterfinal round the past six years after finishing third in 2015. Among the key returnees from the eighth-place team at the 2021 WJC are forwards Martin Chromiak (Los Angeles Kings), who has scored 32 points (13 goals, 19 assists) in 23 games for Kingston of the Ontario Hockey League, and defenseman Samuel Knazko (Columbus Blue Jackets). All eyes will be on returning forward Juraj Slafkovsky and defenseman Simon Nemec, each a potential top-15 pick in the 2022 draft. Nemec scored six points (one goal, five assists) in five games and was named tournament MVP as captain for second place Slovakia at the 2021 Hlinka Gretzky Cup. Slafkovksy scored nine points (three goals, six assists) in five games. Forward Dalibor Dvorsky, a 16-year-old who is eligible for the 2023 NHL Draft, led Slovakia with 12 points (eight goals, four assists) at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup and could surprise in his first WJC.


Coach: Marco Bayer

2022 NHL Draft watch: Lian Bichsel, D, Leksand (SWE); Lorenzo Canonica, F, Shawinigan (QMJHL)

Schedule: Dec. 27, Russia (4:30 p.m. ET); Dec. 28, United States (4:30 p.m. ET); Dec. 30, Slovakia (7 p.m. ET); Dec. 31, Sweden (4:30 p.m. ET)

Outlook: Switzerland will rely on goalies Noah Patenaude (7-2-2, 2.96 GAA, .914 save percentage) of Saint John in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Kevin Pasche (9-4-1, 2.20 GAA, .916 save percentage) of Omaha in the United States Hockey League to remain competitive. Bichsel (6-5, 216), who has one assist in 12 games for Leksand of the Swedish Hockey League, is a B-rated skater on NHL Central Scouting’s preliminary players to watch list. Forward Simon Knak (Nashville Predators) returns for his third World Juniors after he was captain for ninth-place Switzerland at the 2021 WJC. Canonica (5-11, 179), who has scored 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists) in 29 games for Shawinigan, is a C-rated skater after being passed over in the 2021 draft.

2022 World Junior Championship Group A preview

By Adam Kimelman –

Kaiden Guhle is one of three players with Canada for the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship that played in the 2-0 loss to the United States in the championship game of the 2021 WJC.

The Montreal Canadiens defenseman prospect said that loss still is being felt by more than just himself, forward Cole Perfetti (Winnipeg Jets) and goalie Dylan Garand (New York Rangers).

“Just unfinished business for the team,” Guhle said. “Playing at home, there’s a lot of pressure when you play for Team Canada. You’re expected to win. I think the guys know that. The guys are hungry for a gold medal this year.”

Guhle scored three points (two goals, one assist) and averaged 15:53 of ice time in seven games, fourth among Canada defensemen. He likely will have a bigger role this year.

Since the 2021 WJC, Guhle played three games for Laval, Montreal’s American Hockey League affiliate, and after playing in three preseason games this season, he was one of the final cuts from Canadiens training camp.

He said he feels that professional experience on and off the ice has made him a better player entering his second WJC.

“I think just maturity, a little bit of confidence,” Guhle said. “I think puck-moving skills have improved a little bit just from seeing other guys play, being with other guys in higher levels and playing pro hockey. I think that’s improved a little bit. I think just all-around maturity. One year is pretty big at this age group.”

The 2022 WJC is scheduled for Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta.

Canada will play its preliminary-round games in Group A at Rogers Place in Edmonton, along with Finland, Czechia, Germany and Austria. Group B consists of the United States, Russia, Sweden, Slovakia and Austria, and will play preliminary-round games at Peavey Mart Centrium in Red Deer.

The top four teams in each group will play in the quarterfinals Jan. 2. The semifinals are scheduled for Jan. 4, and the championship and third-place games Jan. 5.

Here’s a look at each Group A team, in predicted order of finish: 


Coach: Dave Cameron

2022 NHL Draft Watch: Shane Wright, F, Kingston, OHL; Brett Brochu, G, London, OHL

Schedule: Dec. 26, Czechia (7 p.m. ET); Dec. 28, Austria (7 p.m. ET); Dec. 29, Germany (7 p.m. ET); Dec. 31, Finland (7 p.m. ET)

Outlook: Canada is stocked with dynamic offensive players, topped by forwards Dylan Guenther (Arizona Coyotes), Kent Johnson (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Perfetti, but the offensive lynchpin could be Wright (6-foot, 185 pounds), projected to be the No. 1 pick of the 2022 NHL Draft with an all-around skill set that’s been compared to Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron. There’s also forward Connor Bedard, the seventh 16-year-old selected to play for Canada at the World Juniors, joining a list that includes Wayne Gretzky, Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid, and who has a history of dominating older competition; he scored 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in seven games as a 15-year-old at the 2021 IIHF Under-18 World Championship. The defense includes a potentially dominant top pair in Guhle and Owen Power (Buffalo Sabres), and goalie Sebastian Cossa (Detroit Red Wings) is a 6-foot-6 wall behind them. Canada is a favorite to win Group A and its second championship in three years.


Coach: Antti Pennanen

2022 NHL Draft Watch: Joakim Kemell, F, JYP, FIN; Brad Lambert, F, JYP, FIN

Schedule: Dec. 26, Germany (2 p.m. ET); Dec. 27, Austria (2 p.m. ET); Dec. 29, Czechia (2 p.m. ET); Dec. 31, Canada (7 p.m. ET)

Outlook: Finland will be keyed by its defensemen, led by Topi Niemela (Toronto Maple Leafs), voted best at the position at the 2021 WJC after he scored eight points (two goals, six assists) in seven games and helped Finland finish third. For scoring, Finland could look to Kemell (5-11, 171), an A-rated forward in NHL Central Scouting’s players to watch list for the 2022 draft who has scored 18 points (12 goals, six assists) in 21 games for JYP in Liiga, the top professional league in Finland. Roni Hirvonen (Toronto Maple Leafs), Roby Jarventie (Ottawa Senators) and Brad Lambert (2022 draft eligible) also return when Finland looks to win for the first time since 2019.


Coach: Karel Mlejnek

2022 NHL Draft Watch: David Jiricek, D, Plzen, CZREP; Jiri Kulich, F, Karlovy Vary, CZREP

Schedule: Dec. 26, Canada (7 p.m. ET); Dec. 27, Germany (7 p.m. ET); Dec. 29, Finland (2 p.m. ET); Dec. 30, Austria (4:30 p.m. ET)

Outlook: The group of defensemen could be a strength led by David Jiricek (6-3, 189), an A-rated player in Central Scouting’s players to watch list who is playing in the top pro league in Czechia. He scored two points (one goal, one assist) and averaged 16:11 of ice time in five games at the 2021 WJC and will be joined by Stanislav Svozil (Tampa Bay Lightning) and Michael Krutil (Chicago Blackhawks) from the 2021 group of defensemen. Forwards Jan Mysak (Montreal Canadiens), captain of the 2021 team, and Pavel Novak (Minnesota Wild) will be counted on to supply offense. Mysak leads Hamilton of the Ontario Hockey League with 17 goals in 24 games; Novak leads Kelowna of the Western Hockey League with 31 points (13 goals, 18 assists) in 24 games.


Coach: Tobias Abstreiter

2022 NHL Draft Watch: Florian Elias, F, Mannheim, GER; Yannik Burghart, F, Kaufbeuren, GER-2

Schedule: Dec. 26, Finland (2 p.m. ET); Dec. 27, Czechia (7 p.m. ET); Dec. 29, Canada (7 p.m. ET); Dec. 31, Austria (2 p.m. ET)

Outlook: Germany will have a tough time matching its sixth-place finish at the 2021 WJC without its best eligible players, forwards Tim Stutzle (Ottawa Senators), JJ Peterka (Buffalo Sabres), and Lukas Reichel (Blackhawks). Elias, who played on the top line with Stutzle and Peterka last year, will be counted on heavily. Another player who could generate offense is Burghart, who scored 14 goals in 12 games in Germany’s junior league. Goalie Florian Bugl (2022 draft eligible), who helped Germany to wins against Slovakia and Switzerland at the 2021 WJC, will return but will be pushed for the starting job by Nikita Quapp (Carolina Hurricanes). 


Coach: Marco Pewal

2022 NHL Draft Watch: Marco Kasper, F, Rogle (SWE); Vinzenz Rohrer, F, Ottawa (OHL)

Schedule: Dec. 27, Finland (2 p.m. ET); Dec. 28, Canada (7 p.m. ET); Dec. 30, Czechia (4:30 p.m. ET); Dec. 31, Germany (2 p.m. ET)

Outlook: Austria finished 10th at the 2021 WJC and returns looking for its first win in its fifth tournament appearance (0-17). It won’t be easy against its preliminary-round competition, but it should be able to score more than the one goal it had in four games last year. Kasper (6-1, 183) is an A-rated forward for the 2022 draft who has scored six points (two goals, four assists) in 24 games for Rogle in the Swedish Hockey League. He had one assist in four games as a 16-year-old at the 2021 WJC and is one of 10 returning players. Among them is forward Senna Peeters (2022 draft eligible), who scored Austria’s only goal and will play in the WJC for the third time. The 19-year-old has scored 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in 26 games for Halifax of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

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