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Seven Devils in Finland: The AAtJ Open Post for the 2022 IIHF World Championships

The annual IIHF World Championships begin today in Finland. Seven New Jersey Devils players will represent four different nations in this year’s tourney from Nico Hischier to Jon Gillies. Fans can discuss all of the action from the WCs here in this open post.

What’s positive about Switzlerand at the WCs this year? Nico Hischier represents a big plus.

If the NHL Draft Lottery has become a kind of not-well-desired annual tradition by the People Who Matter, then this is the other one for the New Jersey Devils in recent years. As the Stanley Cup Playoffs are ongoing, the International Ice Hockey Federation will begin its annual World Championships. Multiple Devils are involved and it is a good tourney if you want something different from the Devils-less action in the NHL. Plus, this year’s tournament is in Finland so you could conceivably follow this during the day and watch the playoffs at night.

The Tournament: The 2022 IIHF World Championships

The Host Cities: Helsinki, Finland and Tampere, Finlanda

The Days: May 13, 2022 through May 29, 2022

The Website: The IIHF website. The full schedule is here, with the first game between France and Slovakia in Group A and United States and Latvia in Group B, both with a start time at 4:20 PM Finnish time. Which is 9:20 AM Eastern Time, or seven hours back.

The Coverage: For the USA Hockey fans, the NHL Network will broadcast all of the United States’ games and others. As of this writing, I have not seen confirmation, but TSN may have Canada’s games.

The Format: The full criteria is here from the IIHF. Here is a summary: There are 16 teams in this year’s tourney. There is a group stage and a knockout tournament stage that is determined by the group stage results. A regulation win is worth 3 points, an OT or shootout win is worth 2 points, an OT or shootout loss is worth 1 point, and a regulation loss is worth 0 points. Each group has eight teams. The top four countries in each group by points will move onto the tournament. The bottom four will not. The tournament will begin on May 26 with the quarterfinals. The semifinals will be played on May 28. The Bronze Medal Game and Gold Medal Games will take place on May 29. All tournament games are single-elimination.

Since there were other World Championship tournaments played this year, there will be relegation in this year’s tournament. However, it is not a game. Per the IIHF, the “overall bottom ranked two teams will be relegated to 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A.” They will be replaced by the winner of Group A and the second place team in Group A. Slovenia won the whole thing while Hungary finished ahead of Lithuania to get promotion.

The Teams: Here are the sixteen teams. While there was no relegation in last year’s tournament, the IIHF’s ban of Russia and Belarus has added two new teams: France and Austria.

Group A: Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Slovakia, Denmark, Kazakhstan, Italy, France

Group B: Finland, United States, Czechia, Sweden, Latvia, Norway, Great Britain, Austria

The Devils Involved: Here are the players from each nation has a member of the New Jersey organization barring any last minute changes (which can happen). Six were known by the end of the Devils’ final media sessions. One was added recently: Ryan Graves for Canada.

  • Canada (Group A): Damon Severson, Ryan Graves, Dawson Mercer
  • Switzerland (Group A): Nico Hischier, Jonas Siegenthaler
  • Slovakia (Group A): Tomas Tatar
  • United States: (Group B): Jon Gillies

I am still mystified that USA Hockey invited Gillies. I know that getting players for these tournaments is not easy as players may opt to heal up or rest or not want to go across the world to play in a tournament after a season that likely did not go well as they are not in the playoffs. But Jon Gillies is on the USA Hockey roster. That is odd. More odd than Matt Hellickson making last year’s roster right out of college. Everyone else makes sense for their respective nations.

The more talented and Devils are in Group A. I suggest watching them as they should all play significant roles on their respective teams. (P.S. Devils draft pick from 2020 Benjamin Baumgartner will be on Austria, but the Devils’ rights to him end on June 1 and he is signed with Lausanne HC through 2025. So he may be on the reserve list for just another month. Ergo, I am not including him as a Devil.)

The Notable 2022 Draft Eligible Players: The main tournament for draft eligibles at this time of you year is the World Under-18 Championships. However, that tournament ended. And so some players eligible for this year’s draft are free to be involved in this tournament too. Being named to the tournament at all is an achievement because it means that nation’s decision makers thought well enough of the player’s game that they deserve inclusion. This year’s WCs has the following prospects to keep an eye on:

  • Juraj Slafkovsky, Slovakia - He is 6’4”. He is about 220 pounds. He plays pro in Finland for TPS. He already suited up for Slovakia this year at the WJCs (before they ended early), Olympic qualifiers, and the Olympic games - where he put up 7 goals in 7 games. The big forward may be coveted by many in 2022’s draft. This tournament may raise his profile just a bit more.
  • Simon Nemec, Slovakia - One of the top defensemen prospects in this year’s draft; he could be the first to go depending on how much one rates him over David Jiricek. The right-handed defender has been just as busy as Slafkovsky this year. In addition to his pro season with HK Nitra (39 season games, 19 playoff games), he played for the U-18 Slovakian team, the WJCs, Olympic qualifiers, and the Olympic games. Cannot question his desire to represent his nation; not at all. We shall see if he does even more at the WCs this year.
  • Marco Kasper, Austria - Kasper may end up being a first rounder this year. He is responsible in both ends and he played more than just a handful of minutes for Rögle BK in the SHL (46 season games, 13 playoff games, 12 Champions League games). He could provide a spark for Austria.
  • David Jiricek, Czechia - One of the top defenseman prospects in this year’s draft - until a a ligament injury in his knee at the WJCs against Canada knocked him out for several months. He did return to play by the season’s end for HC Plzen. The general word on him is that his talent, aggression, and size will still make him a top ten pick. His skating was seen as a plus but is understandably a question after the injury. A good showing in Finland will help answer those questions.

The Prediction...?: I think Group A is all but Canada’s to win. The battle for the other three spots should be fun. Group B could go sideways if one of the United States, Sweden, or Czechia gets spoiled early. I did not include Finland because I expect the host nation to make a deep run. In fact, I will predict they win the whole thing because of it. Hey, they finished second last year. It is doable. As for the relegation: I think Great Britain and France and go back down to I-A and will be replaced by Slovenia and Hungary.

Your Turn: Again, this is the open post where you can enjoy and comment and react and rant about 2022 IIHF World Championships - games, news, plays, etc. - here in this Open Post. Not anywhere else on the site, please. If it is about the World Championships, then it goes here. As usual, all site rules apply for this Open Post. Enjoy the WCs. I’ll update this on an as-needed basis.