2018 World Juniors All-Star Team
By: Connor Jung
1st round 12th OVERALL - CAROLINA
A game controller: His ability to change pace and control the ebb and flow of the game is evident against his peers. He reminds me a lot of David Krejci on a lower-end and Tyler Seguin on a high-end. He is one-step ahead in many areas of the ice, from his dots and up he’s looking to create offence and he plays in all three situations. Necas has a calmness to his game, but isn’t passive or tentative; he plays with a purpose. He puts the puck in places where defenders can’t reach, a skill Datsyuk perfected. He uses direct or indirect lanes to make plays, and it is fun to watch. The reason he’s on my all-star team is that I believe in his potential and trajectory, and while that doesn’t necessarily equate to impact in the tournament, the World Juniors is about showcasing the next wave of talent and I believe he has a game that will translate to the NHL level. From an evaluation standpoint, I question whether he has a dynamic quality or singular skill that will elevate him from a good player to elite offensive status. However, Necas does so many little things on the ice well, that his floor is high. As the pro game picks up in pace and intensity, I wonder if he will continue to think ahead of the game. If he continues to develop on par with his peers, I think he could be a first line centerman in the NHL.
2nd round 35th OVERALL - St. Louis
Jordan Kyrou was probably Canada’s most skilled forward on the offensive side of the puck at the 2018 WJC. A Canadian team branded as being ‘balanced’, and lacking the usual top 10 NHL draft prospects, Kyrou stood out to me with his combination of speed, skill and hockey sense. That skill set has become a running theme throughout the NHL as of late, and Kyrou exemplified it. He reminds me a little of Jordan Eberle, where his mind and hands match up with his feet. Many times, players’ feet never catch up to their hands (or vice versa) and will run out of room. Kyrou has the ability to make his opponent miss because he’s so patient with the puck, and when he sees an opening he has the quickness and stickhandling ability to execute. He rarely puts himself in poor position or gets himself in trouble, even though he attempts highly skilled/high risk plays with the puck. He is really good at freeing himself up to shoot, and is always ready to shoot or pass when pressure arrives. Kyrou has great instincts and feel for the game, as he always seems involved and engaged in the play. I could definitely see him playing in the NHL next season.
2018 draft eligible - halifax mooseheads
As an 18-year-old draft eligible, Filip Zadina dominated the U20 level; something that you are starting to see more and more with young players. He was the purest goal scorer at the tournament, and alongside Martin Necas, propelled a Czech team into the Semi-Finals. He has a hint of Joe Sakic in his game, in the sense that he is a shooter that can create his own lane to shoot. Zadina is a player who commands the puck and carries it with authority because his head is always up looking for a play. He is a dangerous player off the rush but also in a half-ice setting because he is so smart and strong along the boards. On the rush, Zadina keeps opposing defenders honest because he can shoot off both feet. His strength and agility allow him to freeze defenders on their back heels. He doesn’t have breakaway speed, but every other aspect of his offensive game is already at a pro level. He’s easily in my top 5 for the 2018 Draft. Just ask Kale Clague after being broken down twice in the Canada and Czech Republic Semi-Final.
1st round 4th OVERALL - COLOrado
Cale Makar was the most exciting player Canada dressed at the 2018 World Juniors. He personifies the word “playmaker” because all he does is make plays with the puck. Rarely will Makar make the safe play, he’s always looking for a way to gain advantages by carrying the puck out or with a low-percentage outlet pass. While it may scare some coaches, Makar posses the speed and skill to recover. You want to see young players with skill to continue to be creative and to try high-skilled plays in an era of “systems hockey” that tries to mould players perfectly into roles. Makar’s escapability and quick wrist shot make him a threat at the point, with many of his assists in the tournament coming off shot-passes or deliberate tip shots. He consistently gets the puck through traffic because of his mobility and quick release, which creates a lot of pressure and chaos for the defending team to hold tight points. He reminds me a lot of the way P.K. Subban approaches the game, always looking to setup the next offensive play. Neither player puts the word “defence” in defenseman, and Makar’s challenge -- as he continues to develop -- will be to gain enough trust from his coaches without limiting his creativity and pace that currently makes him an elite prospect.
Undrafted - U. of Minnesota-Deluth
This is my hot take of the tournament, Scott Perunovich is one of my tournament all-stars. After watching him at the World Juniors, it puzzles me how 30+ teams passed over him 14 times. The poise he plays with allows him to dictate the breakout and control forechecks -- he uses the net so well to shield off forecheckers. He may not have dynamic offensive ability, but his patience and his ability to always play with his head-up will allow him to be a great puck distributor.