The 2023 Connor Bedard present, often known as the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship, has come to a detailed with the Canadians strolling away with gold for the second time in 5 months.
Crew Canada defeated Czechia 3-2 in an extra time thriller to deliver probably the most aggressive version of the World Juniors to a detailed.
Eventual MVP Connor Bedard stole the present along with his historic, record-breaking efficiency, placing up an enormous 23 factors (9 objectives, 14 assists) in simply seven video games. However he wasn’t the one participant to steal focus through the occasion.
Earlier than we dive in, It’s essential to keep in mind that one match doesn’t make or break a prospect. This match is just one information level alongside an extended hockey timeline.
That being mentioned, a number of gamers on this occasion rose their inventory with stand-out performances. Others could have seen their inventory fall because of underwhelming performances. On this piece, you is likely to be shocked to not see gamers like Bedard, Joshua Roy, Logan Cooley, David Jiricek, or Carl Lindom on the risers checklist, amongst others.
Did they elevate their inventory? I’d argue no — they did precisely what was anticipated of them. Or, different gamers who got here in with low (or no) expectations really stood out. These gamers are those you’ll discover within the greatest risers class.
For fallers, what it boils all the way down to is what they have been anticipated to do heading into the occasion. Had been they imagined to be the focus of the offense? The beginning goaltender? If that was the expectation and it wasn’t met, that’s why their inventory could have taken a success through the occasion.
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With this in thoughts, let’s check out the prospects that exceeded expectations through the 2023 World Juniors, and people who left us wanting extra.
Greatest risers on the 2023 World Juniors
Adam Gajan, G, Crew Slovakia (2023 NHL Draft re-entry)
It takes a particular efficiency to earn the respect of High Goaltender on the World Juniors when your group doesn’t make it previous the quarterfinals. However that’s precisely what Adam Gajan did. Beginning the match with none expectations of even hitting the crease, the netminder stepped in and captured the eye of followers, and really seemingly NHL scouts.
Gajan confronted probably the most photographs per sport of any goaltender within the match whereas recording the very best save proportion (SV%) at .936. He led the group to a dominant win over Crew USA, making 33 saves, however his strongest efficiency got here in a 53-save outing in opposition to Canada within the quarterfinal.
The goaltender just lately made the bounce to the USHL’s Inexperienced Bay Gamblers after spending many of the season with the NAHL’s Chippewa Metal. He’s dedicated to the NCAA’s College of Minnesota-Duluth subsequent season, however may hear his identify referred to as within the NHL draft earlier than then.
Ludvig Jansson, D, Crew Sweden (Florida Panthers)
On a group with high-powered offensive abilities, it was defenseman Ludvig Jansson that stood out on Crew Sweden (together with goaltender Carl Lindbom, after all). Chosen within the fourth spherical of the 2022 NHL Draft (a hundred and twenty fifth general) by the Florida Panthers, this was Jansson’s second World Juniors match, recording zero factors in 4 video games in 2022.
This time round, he tied ahead Filip Bystedt for the group lead in factors with 10 (4 objectives, six assists). His purpose and factors totals led all defenders within the match, and he was named to the match All-Star Crew. He confirmed up in important moments, together with the extra time game-winner in opposition to Crew Czechia in regulation, the lone objectives in losses to Canada and Czechia within the semifinals, and two assists within the bronze-medal sport in opposition to Crew USA.
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In seven video games, Jansson almost doubled his complete from this season with Sodertalje SK of the Hockey Allsvenskan (six factors). Not usually recognized for his offensive facet, the Swede confirmed up in a giant approach for the group on this occasion, getting Panthers followers enthusiastic about what else he can do sooner or later.
Jiri Kulich, C, Crew Czechia (Buffalo Sabres)
The Czech group on this match was exceptional. There have been many prospects thought-about for this checklist from that group, together with Stanislav Svozil, Gabriel Szturc, David Spacek, Jakub Brabenec and Matyas Sapovaliv. However Jiri Kulich was the skater that was probably the most constant, efficient participant on the group night time in and night time out and was an enormous purpose why they reached the ultimate.
Kulich led the group in factors, with 9 (seven objectives, two assists) in his seven video games performed. These seven objectives sat second within the match, simply two behind Bedard and tied with Logan Cooley and Dylan Guenther. He got here up clutch when he wanted to, together with an extra time purpose within the semifinals in opposition to Sweden and the primary purpose for Czechia within the closing in opposition to Canada to spark an thrilling comeback.
Whereas Kulich got here in with larger expectations than others on this checklist, his capacity to steer this group (with Jiricek and Svozil) to the ultimate was exceptional. He’s been having a powerful season with the AHL’s Rochester Individuals after the Buffalo Sabres chosen him twenty eighth general in the summertime and appears to be a key a part of the group’s future.
David Reinbacher, D, Crew Austria (2023 NHL Draft eligible)
The lone first-time draft eligible on this checklist, many informal followers could haven’t recognized the identify David Reinbacher earlier than this occasion. They need to know his identify now. Crew Austria had a tough match, failing to attain of their first three video games, however the defenseman was a brilliant spot sport in and sport out.
He may need solely had two assists within the closing sport, however Reinbacher was persistently creating scoring probabilities, main the group in transition, shutting groups down defensively, and making his 6-foot-2 presence felt each time he stepped onto the ice. The group relied on him closely, particularly in his closing video games (he missed the primary relegation sport because of sickness), enjoying over 26 minutes in opposition to the Germans and over 27 in opposition to Latvia.
The defender could not have led his group to keep away from relegation, however he did every little thing in his energy to do exactly that and might’t be faulted for his group heading to the D1A version of the occasion. Eligible for the 2023 NHL Draft, Reinbacher appears like a sure-fire first-rounder and could possibly be one of many first defenders off the board on draft day.
MORE: Who’s getting promoted to the 2024 World Juniors?
Tomas Suchanek, G, Crew Czechia (2023 NHL Draft re-entry)
Whereas Gajan was named High Goaltender of the occasion, Tomas Suchanek may have simply been handed the award as nicely. He was named to the match All-Star Crew although, after main the occasion with a 1.52 goals-against common (GAA) and ending second with a .934 SV%. He’s additionally solely considered one of two netminders (Lindbom is the opposite) to play each minute for his or her group.
Suchanek was enormous for this group, beginning with a 36-save efficiency within the match opener to stun Canada 5-2, up till the gold-medal sport the place he made one other 35 saves in opposition to Canada. It’s additionally price noting he broke a World Juniors report for probably the most assists by a netminder, recording 4.
After already being handed over within the NHL Draft twice, it’s fairly seemingly that the netminder will lastly hear his identify referred to as within the 2023 version. On high of his efficiency on this occasion, he’s having a stable season with the WHL’s Tri-Metropolis Individuals, the place he was coming off of a five-game profitable streak coming into the match.
Ryan Ufko, D, Crew USA (Nashville Predators)
Trying on the Crew USA roster, there have been a couple of standouts, together with Cooley, Jimmy Snuggerud, Cutter Gauthier, Tyler Boucher and goaltender Trey Augustine. However when it comes to the largest riser, Ryan Ufko’s efficiency deserves that title. It’s price noting, Augustine’s pre-semifinals efficiency seemingly would have earned him this spot.
On a group with defenders like Luke Hughes, Sean Behrens and Lane Hutson, it was Ufko main the group’s rearguards in factors with 10 (one purpose, 9 assists). His 9 assists not solely led all defenders within the match – however they have been all major assists as nicely. He hovered round 18 minutes a sport for the USA, standing robust defensively whereas displaying off his offensive talent.
Drafted approach down at a hundred and fifteenth general by the Nashville Predators, Ufko has been stable for UMass within the NCAA this season and final, but it surely’s protected to say that nobody noticed this World Juniors efficiency coming. This was Ufko’s first look for Crew USA in any worldwide occasion, making it all of the extra spectacular.
Greatest fallers on the 2023 World Juniors
Benjamin Gaudreau, G, Crew Canada (San Jose Sharks)
Benjamin Gaudreau was handed the beginning reins to open up this match and the starter’s crease was his to lose. In a stunning opening sport for Canada, they misplaced 5-2 to Czechia, with Gaudreau giving up all 5 objectives in simply over 28 minutes of play. Thomas Milic stepped in and took over the crease, with Gaudreau getting another sport in opposition to the winless Crew Austria.
Whereas he recorded a shutout in that second sport, going through simply 12 photographs, the crease was already misplaced to Milic, who had a really robust match — particularly within the elimination rounds. After Gaudreau led Canada to a World U18 Championship in 2021, with Milic because the backup, it was anticipated that the identical would happen right here on the U20 stage. Gaudreau gained high goaltender in that U18 occasion, however couldn’t replicate that success.
The San Jose Sharks prospect, drafted 81st general in 2021, has an excessive amount of talent, however hasn’t had the numbers to again that up in his time with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting. Goalies are a special breed although, and Gaudreau has the expertise to maneuver to larger ranges, however this occasion merely didn’t go his approach.
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Brad Lambert, C, Crew Finland (Winnipeg Jets)
In his third World Juniors look — fourth together with the canceled 2022 version — Brad Lambert had the load of the group on his shoulders. In the event that they have been going to medal, he, together with gamers like Joakim Kemell and Ville Koivunen, was going to wish to hold the offense. Lambert wasn’t in a position to do this, the group struggled offensively and Finland went residence in fifth place.
Lambert has been very complicated on this occasion. He had 4 factors within the match as a newly-turned 17-year-old in 2021, 5 factors in simply two video games within the canceled 2022 version, and only one purpose in 5 video games in every of the 2022 and 2023 editions. In 2023, he performed lower than 14 minutes in all however the first sport, not supreme for considered one of your most-offensive gamers.
Lambert has struggled this season, his first in North America, with the Manitoba Moose of the AHL. After being chosen thirtieth general by the Winnipeg Jets in 2022, there was some hope of him being a steal. It’s nonetheless very early for him, however this was his final match and his time to face up and shine. That, sadly, wasn’t the case.
Fabian Lysell, RW, Crew Sweden (Boston Bruins)
Just like Lambert, Fabian Lysell was a returning participant to this occasion who was coming from the AHL and was going to be relied upon to place up factors. And much like Lambert, that simply didn’t occur. Sweden managed to get to the bronze-medal sport not less than, largely because of Lindbom and Jansson, but in addition did not medal.
Lysell left the match with zero factors in seven video games. He did have some robust performs all through the match although and did create some probabilities, however his lack of manufacturing finally harm the group. To make issues worse, he was ejected from the bronze-medal sport on his first shift for a success to the pinnacle.
Not like Lambert although, Lysell has been having a powerful season within the AHL, going almost some extent per sport with the Windfall Bruins. The Bruins’ twenty first choice in 2021, he stays a high prospect for the group. However this occasion wasn’t nice for him.
Kaiden Mbereko, G, Crew USA (2023 NHL Draft re-entry)
Just like Gaudreau, Kaiden Mbereko got here into this occasion trying just like the starter. In spite of everything, he was the No. 1 goalie for the USA simply 5 month in the past, ending the 2022 match with a .921 SV% and a 1.76 GAA. But it surely was Augustine who took the online over and ran with it. Mbereko performed only one full sport, coming in as aid for starter Augustine twice.
That one sport performed was the American’s shock loss to Crew Slovakia, the place Mbereko let in 5 objectives on 25 photographs. He then performed the ultimate three minutes within the semifinal sport in opposition to Canada, not recording a save, and performed 22 minutes within the high-scoring 8-7 sport versus Sweden to win the bronze.
On high of his efficiency in the summertime, Mbereko has been stable this season within the NCAA, enjoying for Colorado Faculty. Now twice handed over within the NHL draft, it stays to be seen if he’ll have his identify referred to as within the 2023 version. Proper now, it does appear unlikely.