The 2010 IIHF World Junior Championships are upon us! The most prestigious U-20 tournament in the world will be hosted by Canada, specifically Saskatchewan. See the best prospects from recent drafts and a few for the next draft. Four New Jersey Devils prospects will be representing their nation in the tournament, and so they warrant our attention.
Mattias Tedenby, LW, Sweden, 2008 1st round pick. Currently listed as the top Devils prospect at Hockey's Future, the dynamic winger from HV71 will get a chance to sparkle at the WJCs for the second straight year. Last year, he scored 1 goal and 4 assists in 6 games for Sweden. With more experience, both in the SEL and internationally, he could have a big tourney.
Jacob Josefson, C, Sweden, 2009 1st round pick. The Djurgardens pivot is also slickly talented to grab your eye. This year's first rounder has been getting significant time with his club team and will appear in his second straight WJC. He didn't get any points last year, but making the team was impressive. He did represent Sweden at the World U-18s last year as well, earning 3 goals and 4 assists in 6 games.
Patrice Cormier, C, Canada, 2008 2nd round pick. Cormier was a part of Canada's 2009 gold medal winning team and his continued solid play earned him another chance to represent Canada for yet another gold medal at the WJCs. This tournament will especially be special, as he was named Team Canada's captain a few days ago (h/t elesias). Now that's an accomplishment! Hopefully his physical style of play doesn't get the better of him, as apparently he elbowed a Swedish player in the face in a recent exhibition and he wasn't punished (no penalty, no suspension, does the IIHF have a Wheel of Discipline™?).
Adam Henrique, C, Canada, 2008 3rd round pick. 2009 must have been a great year in Henrique's hockey career. New career highs in points (63), leading Windsor (and the tournament) to win the 2009 Memorial Cup, and now he's centering one of the best lines in junior hockey with 2010 ace prospect Taylor Hall and Greg Nemisz en route to shatter his previous career high early in 2010. Now he gets to represent Canada and potentially center that same line on the international stage. Hopefully it's a sign of things to come from the young center.
Four Devils in the tournament isn't bad at all. At one point there were six possibilities. Michigan center David Wohlberg was in the United States evaluation camp, but he was cut on Sunday. Brandon defenseman Alexander Urbom, of course, did not make the roster for unclear, but possibly daft reasons. Considering how Canada apparently dominated Sweden in a recent exhibition game, maybe Sweden could have used a big defenseman who is experienced on the North American-sized rink and the style of hockey that the Canadian juniors play. Your loss, Sweden! (At least Urbom can use this snub as motivation to continue improving his game in the WHL.)
In any case, the 2010 IIHF WJCs will run from December 26 through January 5. With the Devils being real busy with games in that time frame, I'll be keeping an open thread for the WJCs in the FanPosts. I'll provide little updates on these four prospects in particular.
With the Christmas break keeping many teams idle today, I'd figure today was a good day as to put together another stat update of the various prospects in the Devils' system. With Vladimir Zharkov playing up in New Jersey, I took him off and put Matt Halischuk - who is now in Lowell - back in the list. Please let me know how the players are actually playing beyond the stats, if you have seen them play, in the comments. Let's use this as a point of discussion about the team's prospects. The basic stats I could find, of course, don't tell the whole story - so anything you have to add is most appreciated.
Here's the Devils' prospects stat sheet I put together from various team and league sites as of December 23, 2009:
John MacLean has had to deal with a lot of transferring of talent this season. With the injuries hitting New Jersey, Lowell has seen a number of players called up: Dean McAmmond, Tyler Eckford, Matthew Corrente, Vladimir Zharkov, Tim Sestito, and Mark Fraser. McAmmond, Fraser, Corrente, and Zharkov are still up with the New Jersey Devils and Matt Halischuk was on the team until sent down a few weeks ago. It speaks highly of the talent on the farm team that they can come onto the Devils and contribute. That the Devils are current tied for second in the Atlantic Division in the AHL with a record of 18-12-3 speaks highly with how well MacLean has done as head coach.
Even despite the call ups, many players on Lowell have done a good job with their production. Matt Taorima's 22 points is certainly impressive - he's currently tied for fourth among rookie scorers in the AHL. Nick Palmieri and Nathan Perkovich are both tied for twelfth in rookie scoring. Jeff Frazee has got a few games back after injury, but it appears Mike McKenna (11-7, 2.38 GAA, 92.5 Sv%, 2 SO) is Lowell's top goaltender for the time being.
Prior to the WJCs, Tedenby is still getting limited minutes on HV71's third line. That makes a bit difficult to get points, but that he has contributed a little bit is a good sign. HV71 remains at the very top of the SEL, so I can't imagine that the coaches will make any big changes to the lineup. Josefson may not have that many more points, but that he's getting significant ice time for a 18 year old center in one of Europe's top leagues. That's something I think is impressive enough as-is. Especially when you consider that Djurgardens is 15-11-5 and currently fourth in the SEL.
With respect to the non-professional prospects, David McIntyre is sparkling for Colgate (7-6-4 overall, 5-3-1 ECAC), he's second on the team in points and the sixth overall scorer in the conference. Mike Hoeffel leads his team in goals, while second in team scoring on University of Minnesota. In junior, Henrique is obviously scoring tons of points in the OHL while the others are holding steady. Urbom's numbers look particularly good with 21 points and a very impressive +20. Down in junior A, Curtis Gedig has been moved from Cowichan Valley (14-23-0-1) to Vernon (33-2-0-2) and he's been quite productive in his first few games with Vernon. No doubt, he's enjoying the success of the team in the BCHL. He'll be going to Ohio State next season. Derek Rodwell has committed to University of North Dakota and he's been fairly productive with Okotoks in the AJHL.
Again, if you have seen any of these players play, please, by all means, let us know how you think they are playing in the comments.