Detroit Red Wings prospects ready for world junior championship
Detroit – Hockey fans hungry for real games can look forward to this holiday season.
Every game in the Men’s Junior World Championships that will be played in a bubble in Edmonton this year due to the pandemic will be televised on the NHL Network.
For the Red Wings fan out there, this could turn into an appointment reminder.
Seven current wings draft picks will be played in the tournament, including five for Team Sweden. Gustav Berglund, Albert Johansson, Theodor Niederbach, Lucas Raymond and Elmer Soderblom (all Team Sweden), Eemil Viro (Finland) and Jan Bednar (Czech Republic) are the Wings candidates taking part in the prestigious junior tournament.
The tournament starts today and ends on January 5th.
What makes this year’s Junior World Championships even more interesting and compelling is the fact that the pandemic has devastated junior seasons around the world.
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The European leagues have continued, but had stops and starts on schedule. In North America, the junior and college seasons have either not started yet or have done so with modest success.
Here’s a capsule look at the Red Wings prospects:
Jan Bednar, goalkeeper
Bednar was a 2020 fourth round pick of the wings, and some reviewers felt it could be a petty theft if picked.
But Bednar got off to a sluggish start in the Czech Republic (0.867 percent in five games) while playing in a men’s league.
Bednar is likely to be the support for the Czech Republic so there is no guarantee he will see game action.
Gustav Berglund, defense attorney
Berglund was a selection of the wings in the sixth round in 2019 and has climbed the prospect charts due to his steady, even game.
Berglund is a good skater and has a good position in defense. He’s a certain size (6-foot-2, 190-pound) and plays with an edge.
With a deep Swedish defense, it’s a good sign that Berglund deserves a major Ice Age.
Albert Johansson, defender
Johansson, who was selected as a draft pick in the second round of Wings in 2019, has climbed the prospect charts with impressive ice hockey sections.
Smooth Johansson is allowed to play against his own age group here, which he doesn’t do against men in the Swedish Elite League.
It will be interesting to see how much power play time and 5-on-5 Johansson has in the tournament. His ability with the puck is an area that Boy Scouts have raved about for the past year.
Theodor Niederbach, center
Niederbach was the Wings’ second pick in October and was viewed as a potential theft as he missed the previous season due to knee surgery.
This season Niederbach has played excellently at junior level with 35 points in 19 games and has shown the talent of a first rounder.
With the Swedish line-up decimated, there’s a good chance Niederbach will play in the front row with Wings’ draft pick Lucas Raymond.
Lucas Raymond, right wing
Raymond was the Wings’ first choice in October, the fourth choice in the overall standings, and has dazzled in Sweden with 12 points (five goals) in 22 games for the Frolunda men’s team.
Raymond should be a dominant player in this tournament while playing against players his age. Raymond also had a tendency to do his best in the greatest moments and this is where he will get his opportunity.
But Team Sweden was devastated with COVID-19 and the line-up was changed. Raymond is expected to produce.
Elmer Soderblom, center / wing
Soderblom was a 2019 Wings draft pick in the sixth round and continued to fascinate his potential.
At 6-foot-8, 238 pounds, it’s easy to be amazed at the size and skill, and Soderblom has shown that he’s definitely a pro (55 points in 36 games in the junior season).
Injuries have set Soderblom back this season but he is healthy now. Skating and speed have been Soderblom’s drawbacks since it was drafted, but when it’s on it dominates the net.
Eemil from Estonia, defense lawyer
Viro (6-foot, 165-pound) was one of the drafts for the 2020 third round of Wings, a small offensive defender who plays well in Finland at juniors (six points in 16 games).
Many draft evaluators liked this wings choice because Viro has gotten better and better with age and has played against more intense competition.
Despite his size, Viro doesn’t give in, that’s important in this world-class tournament.