With the NHL shut down until after Christmas, there isn’t much news happening around the league. However, there is growing anticipation for this year’s World Juniors tournament, beginning on December 26. On that date, hockey fans deprived of hockey action will get the competition they desire before the league returns to play on December 27. With the World Juniors in mind, here are some of the players playing in group A that have potential as future NHLers.
Germany: Luca Munzenberger (D)
Germany’s roster doesn’t have a ton of NHL talent, but Luca Munzenberger presents an interesting case to watch. He was selected with the 90th pick in the 2021 NHL Draft by the Edmonton Oilers. It was a strange pick for many as Munzenberger wasn’t a highly regarded prospect in the top 100. But the Oilers franchise seems to be very happy with the selection regardless of that fact. From various scouting reports and Muzenberger’s self-analysis, it seems that he slots in as a physical defenseman who plays a strong game in the defensive zone. His NHL projection is a bottom-line defenseman. Watching the World Juniors will give Oilers fans a chance to see Munzenberger’s style of play live in action. He’ll be looking to impress and make a strong case to join the team in the future.
Canada: Shane Wright (C)
While Canada has a lot of intriguing prospects to watch, Shane Wright takes the cake for this year’s tournament. Wright is expected to be the prized first overall pick in the 2022 NHL draft this summer. He’s an offensive powerhouse who has drawn comparisons to the likes of other centers taken first overall, including Connor McDavid. He’s currently at 11 goals and 19 assists in 22 games with the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs as the team captain.
There are very few flaws in his overall game and he’ll be a big difference-maker for the team who drafts him this summer. But for now, fans of teams near the bottom of the NHL standings can watch Wright’s game at the World Juniors and hope their team is lucky enough to be able to draft him. It’ll be a treat for hockey fans worldwide to watch him play in this tournament.
Finland: Joakim Kemell (RW)
One of Finland’s best forwards for this tournament will be 17-year-old winger Joakim Kemell. Like Canada’s Shane Wright, Kemell is expected to be taken fairly early in the 2022 NHL draft. He has a tremendous wrist shot and isn’t afraid to use it as a player who primarily focuses on putting the puck on net. His goal-scoring capability is one of the biggest reasons why he’s likely to be taken in the top 10 of the draft. Kemell is currently second on Liiga’s JYP in goals with 12 in 21 games. The World Juniors will provide an excellent opportunity for hockey fans to watch Kemell’s strong offensive game in action when team Finland takes the ice.
Austria: Marco Kasper (C)
Austria’s team doesn’t have any players currently drafted to the NHL, but they do have an intriguing prospect in Marco Kasper. Kasper is yet another forward projected to be taken in the 2022 NHL draft, near the middle of the first round. He isn’t as flashy as Wright or Kemell, but plays a very sound game as a center. Some of his best work came in his last season playing under 18 in the EBJL. He exploded for 29 goals and 34 assists in 22 games in 2019-20. Since then he hasn’t been as productive as a point producer, but scouts clearly still see a lot of potential in his overall game. It’ll be interesting to see how he plays under the spotlight for Austria’s World Junior team.
Czechia: Jan Mysak (C/LW)
Czechia’s captain Jan Mysak presents a participating player already drafted to the NHL. Mysak was selected in the second round by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2020 NHL draft. He’s a strong, forechecking offensive forward who produces points at a high level. This season he has 31 points through 25 games as an alternate captain with the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs. One thing that is evident about Mysak is his leadership ability, shown by the fact he wears a letter for two different hockey groups. With the Canadiens on the precipice of a rebuild, this could be a player we see in the NHL sooner rather than later. The World Juniors will provide Canadiens fans a good preview of a future talent heading to their team.
Featured image courtesy of IIHF
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