The 2023 Connor Bedard present, also referred to as the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship, has come to an in depth with the Canadians strolling away with gold for the second time in 5 months.

Staff Canada defeated Czechia 3-2 in an extra time thriller to carry essentially the most aggressive version of the World Juniors to an in depth.

Eventual MVP Connor Bedard stole the present together with his historic, record-breaking efficiency, placing up an enormous 23 factors (9 targets, 14 assists) in simply seven video games. However he wasn’t the one participant to steal focus in the course of the occasion. 

Earlier than we dive in, It’s vital to do not forget that one match doesn’t make or break a prospect. This match is just one knowledge level alongside a protracted 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 as a result of underwhelming performances. On this piece, you may be shocked to not see gamers like Bedard, Joshua Roy, Logan Cooley, David Jiricek, or Carl Lindom on the risers record, amongst others.

Did they increase 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 right down to is what they have been anticipated to do heading into the occasion. Had been they speculated to be the point of interest 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 in the course of the occasion.

MORE: Blackhawks land Connor Bedard in newest 2023 NHL Mock Draft

With this in thoughts, let’s check out the prospects that exceeded expectations in the course of the 2023 World Juniors, and those who left us wanting extra.

Greatest risers on the 2023 World Juniors

Adam Gajan, G, Staff Slovakia (2023 NHL Draft re-entry)

It takes a particular efficiency to earn the glory of Prime Goaltender on the World Juniors when your crew 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 doubtless NHL scouts.

Gajan confronted essentially the most photographs per recreation of any goaltender within the match whereas recording one of the best save proportion (SV%) at .936. He led the crew to a dominant win over Staff USA, making 33 saves, however his strongest efficiency got here in a 53-save outing towards 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 could hear his identify referred to as within the NHL draft earlier than then. 

Ludvig Jansson, D, Staff Sweden (Florida Panthers)

On a crew with high-powered offensive abilities, it was defenseman Ludvig Jansson that stood out on Staff Sweden (together with goaltender Carl Lindbom, after all). Chosen within the fourth spherical of the 2022 NHL Draft (a hundred and twenty fifth total) 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 crew lead in factors with 10 (4 targets, six assists). His aim and factors totals led all defenders within the match, and he was named to the match All-Star Staff. He confirmed up in crucial moments, together with the extra time game-winner towards Staff Czechia in regulation, the lone targets in losses to Canada and Czechia within the semifinals, and two assists within the bronze-medal recreation towards Staff USA.

MORE: Connor Bedard, Logan Cooley headline potential returners for the 2024 World Juniors

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 an enormous method for the crew on this occasion, getting Panthers followers enthusiastic about what else he can do sooner or later.

Jiri Kulich, C, Staff Czechia (Buffalo Sabres)

The Czech crew on this match was outstanding. There have been many prospects thought of for this record from that crew, together with Stanislav Svozil, Gabriel Szturc, David Spacek, Jakub Brabenec and Matyas Sapovaliv. However Jiri Kulich was the skater that was essentially the most constant, efficient participant on the crew evening in and evening out and was an enormous motive why they reached the ultimate.

Kulich led the crew in factors, with 9 (seven targets, two assists) in his seven video games performed. These seven targets 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 aim within the semifinals towards Sweden and the primary aim for Czechia within the remaining towards Canada to spark an thrilling comeback.

Whereas Kulich got here in with greater expectations than others on this record, his potential to guide this crew (with Jiricek and Svozil) to the ultimate was outstanding. He’s been having a robust season with the AHL’s Rochester People after the Buffalo Sabres chosen him twenty eighth total in the summertime and appears to be a key a part of the crew’s future.

David Reinbacher, D, Staff Austria (2023 NHL Draft eligible)

The lone first-time draft eligible on this record, many informal followers could haven’t recognized the identify David Reinbacher earlier than this occasion. They need to know his identify now. Staff Austria had a tough match, failing to attain of their first three video games, however the defenseman was a shiny spot recreation in and recreation out.

He may need solely had two assists within the remaining recreation, however Reinbacher was constantly creating scoring probabilities, main the crew in transition, shutting groups down defensively, and making his 6-foot-2 presence felt each time he stepped onto the ice. The crew relied on him closely, particularly in his remaining video games (he missed the primary relegation recreation as a result of sickness), enjoying over 26 minutes towards the Germans and over 27 towards Latvia.

The defender could not have led his crew to keep away from relegation, however he did all the pieces in his energy to just do that and might’t be faulted for his crew heading to the D1A version of the occasion. Eligible for the 2023 NHL Draft, Reinbacher appears to be like 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, Staff Czechia (2023 NHL Draft re-entry)

Whereas Gajan was named Prime Goaltender of the occasion, Tomas Suchanek may have simply been handed the award as properly. He was named to the match All-Star Staff although, after main the occasion with a 1.52 goals-against common (GAA) and ending second with a .934 SV%. He’s additionally solely one in all two netminders (Lindbom is the opposite) to play each minute for his or her crew.

Suchanek was enormous for this crew, beginning with a 36-save efficiency within the match opener to stun Canada 5-2, up till the gold-medal recreation the place he made one other 35 saves towards Canada. It’s additionally price noting he broke a World Juniors report for essentially the most assists by a netminder, recording 4. 

After already being handed over within the NHL Draft twice, it’s fairly doubtless 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 strong season with the WHL’s Tri-Metropolis People, the place he was coming off of a five-game successful streak getting into the match.

Ryan Ufko, D, Staff USA (Nashville Predators)

Trying on the Staff 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 most important riser, Ryan Ufko’s efficiency deserves that title. It’s price noting, Augustine’s pre-semifinals efficiency doubtless would have earned him this spot.

On a crew with defenders like Luke Hughes, Sean Behrens and Lane Hutson, it was Ufko main the group’s rearguards in factors with 10 (one aim, 9 assists). His 9 assists not solely led all defenders within the match – however they have been all main assists as properly. He hovered round 18 minutes a recreation for the US, standing robust defensively whereas displaying off his offensive ability.

Drafted method down at one hundred and fifteenth total by the Nashville Predators, Ufko has been strong for UMass within the NCAA this season and final, but it surely’s secure to say that nobody noticed this World Juniors efficiency coming. This was Ufko’s first look for Staff USA in any worldwide occasion, making it all of the extra spectacular.

Greatest fallers on the 2023 World Juniors

Benjamin Gaudreau, G, Staff 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 recreation for Canada, they misplaced 5-2 to Czechia, with Gaudreau giving up all 5 targets in simply over 28 minutes of play. Thomas Milic stepped in and took over the crease, with Gaudreau getting yet another recreation towards the winless Staff Austria. 

Whereas he recorded a shutout in that second recreation, 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 received high goaltender in that U18 occasion, however couldn’t replicate that success.

The San Jose Sharks prospect, drafted 81st total in 2021, has a substantial amount of ability, however hasn’t had the numbers to again that up in his time with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting. Goalies are a distinct breed although, and Gaudreau has the expertise to maneuver to greater ranges, however this occasion merely didn’t go his method.

MORE: Who’s Canada goalie Thomas Milic?

Brad Lambert, C, Staff Finland (Winnipeg Jets)

In his third World Juniors look — fourth together with the canceled 2022 version — Brad Lambert had the burden of the crew 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 ready to try this, the crew struggled offensively and Finland went dwelling 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 aim 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 recreation, not preferrred for one in all 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 total 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, Staff Sweden (Boston Bruins)

Much 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 just like Lambert, that simply didn’t occur. Sweden managed to get to the bronze-medal recreation at the least, largely as a result of Lindbom and Jansson, but additionally 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 in the end damage the crew. To make issues worse, he was ejected from the bronze-medal recreation on his first shift for a success to the top.

In contrast to Lambert although, Lysell has been having a robust season within the AHL, going almost a degree per recreation 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, Staff USA (2023 NHL Draft re-entry)

Much 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 recreation, coming in as reduction for starter Augustine twice.

That one recreation performed was the American’s shock loss to Staff Slovakia, the place Mbereko let in 5 targets on 25 photographs. He then performed the ultimate three minutes within the semifinal recreation towards Canada, not recording a save, and performed 22 minutes within the high-scoring 8-7 recreation versus Sweden to win the bronze.

On high of his efficiency in the summertime, Mbereko has been strong 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.

By Editor

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