Kyle
Pereira
January 1, 2024

Standouts through the round robin at the 2024 World Juniors

The preliminary round is in the books, and there have been some standouts at the 2024 World Juniors.

Despite upsetting Finland early in the tournament, Germany found itself sent to the relegation round, facing the stingy Norway squad. Meanwhile, Latvia and Switzerland managed to squeeze their way to the quarterfinals alongside the expected group of teams.

For those looking to advance to the semifinals, who have been the 2024 World Juniors standouts for their nation? 

Here are the top performers through the round robin at the World Juniors:

Team USA

Team USA finds itself atop the entire tournament with 11 points and a first-place finish in Group B. They are the only team without a single loss to this point, and one of the standout players driving the offense for them has been Gavin Brindley. Brindley finds himself in a three-way tie for the team lead in points with eight (six goals, two assists). Those six snipes have him leading the entire tournament. Not only that, but he has been a dominant transitional player, especially in regards to zone entries. 

Another top player for the Americans has been Cutter Gauthier. Gauthier is one of the three Americans with eight points (one goal, seven assists). Those seven helpers he has garnered places him second in the tournament. Similarly to Brindley, he too has led the way via the transitional game. Both of them have been dominant at transporting the puck from defence to offense and, clearly, have made teams pay once in the offensive zone. 

Sweden 

The second-best team, by points, is Sweden with 10 points and a spot atop of Group A. The Swedes were mighty impressive, opening up the tournament with three consecutive shutouts. Of those blankings, two came from Hugo Havelid. Havelid stopped all 41 shots sent his way, including all 21 he faced against the star-studded Team Canada squad. Havelid is the only goalie with a perfect save percentage through the round robin, and he’ll look to continue that through the knockout stage.

Another key piece for Sweden has been top prospect, Jonathan Lekkerimaki. Lekkerimaki has five points (three goals, two assists) thus far. While that may not lead his team, his three goals is, however, tied for tops for the Swedes. He has consistently generated chances for himself and his teammates, often shining whenever he is on the ice. As Sweden chases gold, Lekkerimaki will be one of the pillars on their quest. 

Another pillar for Sweden’s chase for gold is Noah Ostlund. Ostlund is tied for the team lead in points with six (two goals, four assists). Ostlund has had arguably the biggest impact for the team in the offensive zone. Every time he is out on the ice, it feels as though he will generate something for his nation. Whether it be for himself or setting up teammates, he has had his fingerprints all over Sweden’s success. Even in their lone defeat against Finland, Ostlund was one of just two players to have a multi-point game for Sweden. Ostlund will look to continue being a beacon of consistency and efficiency for the Swedes. 

Canada

It’s been a strange tournament for Canada. They’ve been largely undisciplined and inconsistent, but of all things they were worried about entering this tournament has been quieted. Goaltender Mathis Rousseau has seemingly put the questions surrounding the crease to bed. Rousseau is fifth in the tournament in save percentage at 92.39% and, amongst goalies who started all four of their teams games, he ranks first. Rousseau sits third with a 1.75 goals-against average, too. Rousseau has been everything the Canadians could have hoped for, and then some. 

The other stand out, without any question, is Macklin Celebrini. The 17-year-old member of the 2024 NHL Draft class has absolutely been their rock. He leads the team in points with eight (four goals, four assists). The next closest is a handful of guys with four points. The projected No. 1 has doubled-up the next best player on Canada’s World Juniors team. He has been nothing short of sensational, and has done nothing but solidify his top spot in the upcoming draft. Going into the knockout stage, it will be Celebrini who must lead the charge towards another potential gold medal opportunity. 

Slovakia 

Slovakia, the fourth-best team in the tournament based on points, is the last team to have recorded three or more wins. They’ve been able to do so on the backs of three key players, starting with their goaltender. Adam Gajan has been mostly spectacular thus far. He ranks third in the tournament in save percentage at 93.41% and sixth in goals against average with a stingy 2.00 mark. He’s also one of just five goalies to have faced at least 90 shots, playing in three of the four games for Slovakia. He is a huge reason why Slovakia was able to get their three wins, as they lost their only game that he didn’t play. 

On the offensive end, it’s been Servac Petrovsky who has shined the brightest. Petrovsky leads the entire tournament in scoring with nine points (five goals, four assists), and is tied for second in goals. Petrovsky has been a high-class scorer, of course displayed by his five goals, but also with his confidence. He has 18 shots in the tournament, which places him third overall. If he can keep shooting, it feels like he’ll keep scoring. Petrovsky has earned his title as one of the keys to Slovakia’s success. 

One last standout has been Maxim Strbak. Strbak has six points (one goal, five assists) in this tournament thus far, which is tied for the most points by a defender at the World Juniors. He has been the No. 1 defender for the Slovaks, never playing fewer than 22 minutes per game to this point. He’s also been strong in his own end, while simultaneously being the main puck transporter. He is a crucial piece for the team, and a key cog on the back-end. If Slovakia want to shock the hockey world, it may just start and end with Strbak.

Czechia

An up-and-down preliminary round in the 2024 World Juniors for Czechia had them finish with just two wins, but a chance to change those fortunes in the quartefinals. Those two wins came against Norway and Switzerland, who combined for one win and seven regulation losses. Meanwhile, they lost to Slovakia and Team USA by a combined score of 10-5. But they haven’t been without standout players.

Jiri Kulich is tied for the team lead in points with seven (four goals, three assists). Kulich has professional experience, having played 85 AHL games over the last two seasons, including 23 in 2023-24. Thus, he was expected to be their best player. While he hasn’t been perfect, one could argue he is their most talented player, and he’ll be expected to continue his scoring pace. Meanwhile, 2024 draft-eligible Tomas Galvas has been on the ice for five Slovak goals and none against. That includes his roughly 14 minutes against the Americans, where Slovakia out-scored Team USA 2-0 with him out there.

Finland

Finland started their tournament slowly, losing to Canada 5-2, then getting stunned by Germany 4-3. However, they blanked Latvia and handed the Swedes their only loss of the tournament to close out the preliminary round. A large reason behind the Finns turn-around? Kasper Halttunen

Halttunen leads Finland with six points (three goals, three assists). He opened the tournament in a depth role, averaging about 14:30 minutes per game in the first two losses, and played roughly 12 minutes in their 4-0 win over Latvia. In their last game of the preliminary round, however, Halttunen saw just shy of 16 minutes, and netted three points. He should earn a bigger role moving forward. If he does not, he can still play a key part in their run, providing depth scoring against tough opponents like Slovakia in the quarterfinals.


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