Draft eligible talent to keep an eye on at the 2022 World Juniors
The 2022 World Juniors is set to get underway in a summer setting, but that won’t take away from any intrigue surrounding those participating from the 2023 NHL Draft.
And there’s certainly reason to be intrigued.
The consensus No. 1 pick, at least at this stage, is set to participate, as is another projected top-5 pick.
Here’s who to keep eyes on at the World Juniors.
Connor Bedard, F, Canada
There’s no doubting who will be the main attraction at the 2022 World Juniors, as it relates to the 2023 NHL Draft class. Connor Bedard shredded opponents in his brief two-game stint before the tournament was shut down in December, including becoming the youngest player ever to net a hat-trick at the World Juniors for Canada, eclipsing Wayne Gretzky’s mark set at the 1978 tournament.
The early favorite to go No. 1 in the 2023 draft, Bedard continued from there in authoring one of the Western Hockey League’s best 16-year-old seasons in history, netting 100 points (51 goals, 49 assists) in 62 games with the Regina Pats.
Understandably, all eyes will be on him.
“Bedard has shown time and time again that he can score huge goals in small windows,” FCHockey scout Joel Henderson said. “I expect nothing less than much of the same. He’s a player who can change the tides of a tournament and if he’s not checked and shadowed at all times, he’s probably the most dangerous player on the ice.”
Dalibor Dvorsky, C, Slovakia
Though Bedard may be the main course, Dalibor Dvorsky is certainly no appetizer. The 17-year-old Slovakian forward already has experience playing pro hockey in Sweden with AIK, netting three points (one goal, two assists) in Allsvenskan action. He’s already showed himself to be too talented to be relegated to the J20 level after amassing 40 points (20 goals, 20 assists) in 33 games against his peers.
Dvorsky, who torched the 2021 Hlinka Gretzky Cup last summer to the tune of 12 points (eight goals, four assists) in five games, continues the trend of budding Slovakian skaters. At this stage, he’s a projected top-5 pick.
“He is an exceptionally intelligent forward with great hands and mobility that allow him execute in no time or space,” FCHockey scout Miroslav Simurka said. “Dvorsky is a dual-threat who has great playmaking ability but also can score goals either with his wrist-shot or a one-time from his weak-side circle. He is a top-prospect for the upcoming draft, he will not start as a No. 1 center for team Slovakia, but I won’t but surprised if he ends up being the forward with most ice-time on his team.”
Martin Misiak, F, Slovakia
There will be plenty of eyes on Dvorsky, but Martin Misiak will certainly steal some glances. He’s already proved himself on Slovakia’s top circuit, netting 10 points (four goals, six assists) in 46 games with HC Nove Zamky in 2021-22 — as a 17-year-old.
He projects as a late-round pick in the 2023 draft with plenty of potential for upward movement.
“Misiak, one of the oldest first-year draft eligible at 2023 draft, will be responsible for the second wave of offense at this tournament for Slovakia,” Simurka said. “He has an impressive frame but needs to gain some muscle to be able to use his body more efficiently. Misiak is a smooth-skater, fast, quick and mobile. He has good puck skills and is able to make plays at speed.”
Charlie Stramel, F, Team USA
Charlie Stramel, who helped The United States to a silver medal at the 2022 IIHF World Under-18 Championship last spring, will have the chance to add gold to his resume as one of the top draft-eligible talents at the World Juniors.
Stramel, who had 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists) in 26 games with the US National Team Development Program last season, is considered a first-round talent in FCHockey’s preliminary discussions surrounding the 2023 draft class. And with good cause.
“Stramel is a must watch 2023 draft eligible at the WJC because of the rare combination of physical traits and immense talent he possesses,” FCHockey scout Austin Broad said. “He’s an extremely capable playmaker, using his eyes to deceive opponents and open up passing lanes that he can easily exploit. I think with his IQ and offensive ability he will find a way to be impactful for the USA in whatever role they decide to have him in.”
Maxim Strbak, D, Slovakia
Maxim Strbak, who turned 17 in April, is getting a second crack at participating at the World Juniors after initially making the cut last December and playing in two games before the tournament was halted. Strbak, who had eight points (one goal, seven assists) in 39 games with Jokerit in U20 SM-sarja, is representing Slovakia for a second consecutive summer. He also netted three points (two goals, one assist) in five games for Slovakia at the 2021 Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
He projects as a middle-round pick.
“Strbak will have to step-up at the back-end for team Slovakia, as the team will be missing many of their core pieces in the defense at this tournament,” Simurka said. “Strbak, the son of a former NHLer and world champion, is a big two-way defenseman who can play in all-three zones. I am excited to see if Strbak is ready to play big minutes at this stage.”