Mark
Dubreuil
January 1, 2022

Wallstedt, Power shine in brief 2022 World Juniors showcase

The excitement surrounding the 2022 World Junior Championships was unexpectedly cut short on December 29.

On the fourth day of the tournament, an uptick in COVID 19 cases amongst the players from a few different teams forced the cancellation of the remainder of the tournament.

The good news is that there is a possibility that the tournament will resume in the summer. 

“We saw it was impossible to continue this competition in a fair way,” IIHF President Luc Tardif said.

“We want to take the next month to think about it and maybe come with a good surprise. I hope it’s not over. I don’t want to give up.”

The World Juniors was a (brief) chance for many NHL prospects and NHL Draft eligible players to display their talents during this huge annual junior hockey tournament and help elevate their status in the hockey world. 

Many did just that.

WJC THREE STARS

THIRD STAR: BRAD LAMBERT (FIN)

High expectations surrounded Brad Lambert as he came into this tournament as one of the top players for the 2022 NHL Draft. He hasn’t displayed the offensive potential he had last season playing for JYP, and has only registered six points (two goals, four assists) in 24 games (although all six have come in the past 10 games). 

The World Juniors was a chance for Lambert to assert that he still possessed the offensive threat that once made him a top prospect for the 2022 draft. And he did not disappoint. He came out on a mission, putting up five points (one goal, four assists) in the first two games for Finland. 

“Lambert was firing on all cylinders in both games he played,” FCHockey scout Rasmus Tornqvist said. “He found great chemistry with linemates Samuel Helenius and Ville Koivunen, forming one of the best lines in the tournament. It was great to see his confidence even though the start of the season has not been what anyone expected production-wise.”

SECOND STAR: OWEN POWER (CAN)

Owen Power, the No. 1 selection in the 2021 NHL Draft by the Buffalo Sabres, showed the world why he was the top pick and was a force on the back end for Canada. Power played exceptional hockey in the two games and was a dominant presence on the ice on every shift. Even at 6-foot-5, fans got a glimpse of his agility and skating ability.

Power provided the Canadian squad stability on defense and some offensive upside, registering five points (three goals, two assists) in two games. His three goals came in the first game in a win against Czechia, where he became the first defenseman in Team Canada history to net a hat trick at the World Juniors.

“Power was able to use that skating to manipulate defenders, walk the offensive blue line, open shot lanes and probe deeper into the offensive zone,” FCHockey scout Shaun Richardson said. “Whether it was through his heavy and accurate shot or pinpoint passing ability, Power consistently slipped into dangerous locations and ratcheted up the offensive pressure, especially while on the power play.”

FIRST STAR: JESPER WALLSTEDT (SWE)

A lot of debate over what goaltender would be the standout at the 2022 World Juniors. Jesper Wallstedt quickly put that to bed, winning his first two games of the tournament for Sweden before being shut down. Wallstedt, a first round pick (No. 20) in the 2021 NHL Draft by the Minnesota Wild, punctuated his play on the world state with a 48-save shutout of Slovakia.

“This was Wallstedt’s tournament. He made every save he needed to,” FCHockey scout Fredrik Haak said. “The three goals that Russia scored were all from strange bounces. He showed his skills while being a big, calm and mentally strong goalie.”

ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM

FORWARD: MATVEI MICHKOV (RUS)

The top-rated Russian for the 2023 NHL Draft and potential No. 1 pick did not disappoint with his play at this WJC. Although having just turned 17, Matvei Michkov came in and put the hockey world on notice that the top pick in the 2023 Draft is not set in stone. 

Michkov was Russia’s top player, and scored three times in two games. He displayed an uncanny maturity for his age and carried the play every time he stepped onto the ice.

“What impressed me most about Michkov was his hockey IQ and just overall how impressive he was, “ FCHockey scout Olivia McArter said. “ In the few games I watched of his, he seemed low key but so skilled. His shot was sharp, accurate and quick and seemed able to find holes on the goalie. He also never backed down from any scrum he found himself in and always stood up for himself no matter what the situation.”

FORWARD: COLE PERFETTI (CAN)

In his second World Juniors, Cole Perfetti of Canada came in with more of a leadership role this time around and also to bolster an already potent offense. Perfetti, selected in the first round (No. 10) in the 2020 NHL Draft by the Winnipeg Jets, has been impressive this year playing in the American Hockey League, with 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in 17 games played. 

That trend continued in Edmonton. Perfetti put up six points (two goals, four assists) in seven games at last year’s tournament and continued his strong play this year — registering six points (one goal, five assists) in two games. He was very noticeable in both games and played a complete 200-foot game, while obviously contributing offensively.

FORWARD: BRAD LAMBERT (FIN)

In the small sample size of games, Lambert stood out amongst his peers and was having himself a great World Juniors. Lambert’s high-end talent and exceptional speed was on display on every shift and the reason why he led Finland in scoring with five points after two games. This snippet of tournament play displayed why he will be one of the top 10 prospects selected in the 2022 NHL Draft. 

“His elite speed and puckhandling were constantly on display and he was creating opportunities for himself and his teammates in just about every shift,” Tornqvist said. “There were still times he was forcing plays, but I see this as a sign that his confidence was where it should be and I’m definitely looking forward to him having a productive end of the season for JYP, where he can show why he was considered a bona fide Top-3 pick coming into the season.”

DEFENSEMAN: SIMON EDVINSSON (SWE)

Simon Edvinsson came into the tournament as another high-end pick from the 2021 NHL Draft. Selected in the first round (No. 4) by the Detroit Red Wings, a lot of eyes were on this 6-foot-6 Swedish rearguard. The 18-year-old is in the mold of Victor Hedman and is a mobile two-way defender who has some offensive upside. He currently has 12 points (one goal, eleven assists) in 24 games playing for Frolunda.

Edvinsson was an alternate captain on this Swedish entry and had three points (one goal, two assists) in two games. He asserted himself physically and with his skating and was noticeable at both ends of the ice.

“When he faced players his own age in this tournament, Edvinsson was outstanding,” Haak said. “He showed great skating abilities and puckhandling when moving the puck up the ice. When you combine that with size and his hockey sense, both offensively and defensively, you know he is something special. Being all rounded was the thing that impressed me most about him in this World Juniors.”

DEFENSEMAN: OWEN POWER (CAN)

Power was another large, mobile defenseman at this tournament who demonstrated both his smooth skating and offensive capabilities for Canada. The University of Michigan freshman leads all defenseman in the nation in points with 23 (three goals, 20 assists) in 18 games. He has been a force on the back end for the Wolverines and should make a case for himself for the Hobey Baker Award, for top player in the nation. 

He brought that same style to the World Juniors, and was just as important to Canada in his two-game stint.

“There’s no question that Power has a level of mobility that we don’t often see in a player of his stature but it wasn’t just his skating in isolation that was so effective,” Richardson said.

GOALTENDER: JESPER WALLSTEDT (SWE)

Wallstedt has been honing his skills against men the past two seasons playing for Lulea. So far this season, he has a 9-8-0 record with two shutouts. He came into this World Juniors as one of the favourites to be the top goaltender and solidify his status of top prospect outside of the NHL. He definitely did not disappoint.

“What always impresses me with Wallstedt is that he seems to have a lot of routine, even though he is young, and he is pre-eminent to most goalies his age,” Haak said. “He showed everyone why he was picked in the first round last summer by the Minnesota Wild.”

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