Several years ago, the World Youth Championship, which for many went unnoticed, became as familiar a setting for New Year’s decoration as tangerines or Soviet comedies on December 31. However, without the Russian national team, the tournament again returns to its pre-Buffalo championship state: only a nuclear hockey audience will watch it, and even then it will not be in full force. If you are one of those people, this short guide to the MFM in Gothenburg is for you:
The most important information about the tournament is here:
The absence of Russia and an unusual ban. The main thing about the next World Cup 2024
Without Russia in the IIHF tournaments, the Czechs won a medal in both the senior and junior world championships for the first time in a long time. It is true that last year the “People’s Team” brought a great team with a very strong defense, and last year the Czechs took the final match against Connor Bedard’s Canada to extra time. This year the Czech defense will be a little weaker, but there are other stars in their place.
Of course, the team’s top scorer from last year, Jiri Kulikh, stands out first. The 19-year-old forward currently leads the AHL’s sniping race, having scored 16 goals in 23 games at Buffalo Farm. Kulich is not a pure playmaker, but like most Czech schools, he is a responsible and intelligent defensive player, earning comparisons to the Islanders’ Bo Horvat. Another star of this team is Edouard Chalet, who was once in the top 10 of the draft, but fell to 20th place: everyone notes that the striker is very technical and talented, but too unstable.
Photo: Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images
It is true that the Czechs previously had star forwards: problems in defense prevented them from winning; the country, which once produced star goalkeepers, had a serious failure. Now the main goalkeeper of the Czechs is the almost two-meter-tall Michael Hrabal, who has become the highest selected local goalkeeper since 2006. Hrabal is so appreciated because he is surprisingly agile and agile in goal for a man of 197 cm Tall. The loss of defender David Jircek, who can no longer play in the youth team due to his age, is compensated by his brother. Adam: Plays the same position and is already projected to be a top-10 pick in next year’s draft.
Despite the fact that the Finns have won the MFM three times in the last 10 years, the local youth team is still distinguished by an amazing “swing”: either they have a super team in their composition that destroys everyone, or the team suddenly plays relegation games for everyone. Such an embarrassing situation should not be repeated this year, but the fact is telling: there is no first-round player on this Suomi team. It could have been Joakim Kemel, who plays for the Nashville farm club, but the club did not release the player to the national team.
So the main offensive talent on this team is 17-year-old Konsta Helenius. In an era where everyone in the NHL demands speed from young players and playing “faster, even faster,” Helenius takes advantage of his reading of the game, good hands and skating, he is excellent at accelerating attacks through the dribble, but in the end At the same time he can finish them off with a powerful doll. Right now, Konsta has 20 points in 28 Liiga games for Jukurit – that’s 17-year-old Patrik Laine’s pace, and Helenius is in the top five of most pre-draft rankings for a reason.
Most of the players in this team (typical of the Finns) already play a lot at the league level, and here we can mention Jani Nyman, the second sniper in the league, who scored 14 goals for Ilves, relying more on individual actions and passes. But overall, this Finland could have been stronger: one of the team’s most prominent players, who had already played in the last MFM, Topi Rönni, was caught in a rape case and the outstanding defender Aron Kiviharju was injured. Therefore, these Finns, just like at the adult level, should win regularly, not with stars.
The main question for the Swedish team, as always, is one: can this generation at least understand that gold medals are awarded in the knockout matches and not in the group stage? Breaking the luxurious mentality that has characterized Tre Krunur for years is no easy task. The Swedes lost the last MFM at home in Gothenburg to the Finns in extra time.
As always, the Swedes’ main strength will be their defense. Several years ago, it was as if a giant incubator was turned on in the country, which began to produce defenders with similar characteristics: mobile, with good skating and speed, who can connect deeply to the attack. Sometimes this Ikea build comes with special talents, like a cool shot. He is different from last year’s first-round pick, Axel Sandin-Pellikka, who has already scored nine goals in 25 Swedish league games. Also worth paying attention to are another first-rounder, Tom Willander and Matthias Hevelid, son of former Anaheim and Atlanta player Niklas Havelid.
Photo: Jari Pestelacci/Getty Images
In attack, the Swedes may well have a trio that plays at club level. Yonatan Lekkerimäki, Liam Egren and Noah Östlund all played for Djurgården last year and although they all now play for different teams, the chemistry is unlikely to be lost. Logically, Östlund in the center should accelerate the attacks, Lekkerimäki on the right flank should finish them and Egren should act as a motor; However, the Ferjestad player has played few games this year. Like the Finns, most of the local forwards already play in the main league, although they rarely get leadership roles there, and Tre Kronur has great workers and good dispatchers in his lineup. All that remains is to ask Goodwin hockey for courage.
Although Canadians constantly contrast the junior world championship with the adult world championship because “all the best” play in the MFM, this year in the local press you can find surprising articles like “what if really all the best?” played at the MFM.” This reason can be understood: Connor Bedard and Adam Fantilli, who will no longer be allowed to join the national team, are performing well in the NHL, and the composition of this youth team is one of the weakest in recent years. .
Of course, even a “pale” version of Canada could be great for European countries, but the fact is clear: this team does not have the same “headliner” that Bedard had last year, or that McDavid once was, or that it was once McDavid. Even Jake Virtanen, who left Vancouver to go to the national team. We are not just talking about a leader, but a person whose performance, to use American parlance, will make audiences jump out of their seats. Boston released Matthew Poitras, but his style is more reliable and intelligent than flamboyant. The same goes for players like Conor Geekie and Nate Danielson, who went in the top 10 of the draft.
Once again there is a question mark: in the goalkeeper position. An indicative fact: the second goalkeepers from the 2018 and 2019 tournaments have already retired, now the Canadians bring two unselected goalkeepers. The biggest name in this squad is Scott Ratzlaff, who has saved less than 89% of his shots in the minors so far.
Of course, all attention will be on McClean Celebrini, the leading contender to go first in the upcoming draft. However, despite his hockey talent, high IQ and great shot, this number one is not in the category of McDavid, Hughes or Bedard. Depth should also help the Canadians: no matter how you look at it, no country has so far been able to produce so many trained hockey players.
However, now the Americans were able to challenge the Canadians. An indicative fact: Cole Eizerman, who is expected to be in the top 3 of next year’s draft, was not included in this team, and this did not even raise questions: the depth of the “stars and stripes” team and the level. of his talent are surprising. A simple fact about this team: nine forwards were selected in the first round.
You may have already seen two hockey players from this team at the spring adult world championship. Cutter Gauthier, drafted by Philadelphia, was an aggressive, goal-oriented forward who constantly looked for opportunities and scored seven goals in 10 games. Defenseman Lane Hutson’s mobility was excellent in accelerating the offense of a team that tried to play as fast as possible and now scores more points per game in the NCAA. 7 out of 10 experts from The Hockey News magazine believe that Hutson will become the best defenseman of the tournament, and two even give him the MVP award.
Photo: Samppa Toivonen/Getty Images
On each line the Americans have a player who can become the best in the tournament. In goal is Trey Augustine, who at the age of 17 was the featured player in last year’s MFM, but has matured a lot over the course of the year. The attack has several interesting forwards: playmakers Frank Nazar and Will Smith, sniper Ryan Leonard, who will soon have to save Washington, one of the best snipers in the NCAA, Jimmy Snaggerud. At the same time, top-10 picks Leonard and Smith will play on the third line.
“The goal of this team is simple: gold or bust. How many teams can do without their first Arizona center, Logan Cooley, without even blinking? – writes Stephen Ellis, author of the Daily Faceoff website. Of course, a big advantage of this team will be its teamwork: the guys have known each other since the world junior championship. In the past this hasn’t always helped, but on a team with this level of talent he has to play his part.
But here is the team that, unfortunately, will not play in this tournament:
The young people who were taken from us again. How could the Russian team look at the 2024 World Cup?
But in addition to the best teams, there are many interesting stories at the MFM. For the first time in 10 years, the Norwegians will play in the elite division, in which Michael Brandsegg-Nygard, a candidate for the top 10 of the draft, plays. The Slovaks send a very decent team who, after a long failure, have once again produced stars. Quite a few sons of famous players will play in the MFM, in Slovakia there will be three (Luka Radivojevic, Maxim Strbak and Roman Kukumberg). In general, after all, it will not be boring.