Six Anaheim Prospects Named To World Juniors

Photo: IIHF

By Thomas Harrington

The Anaheim Ducks will be sending six prospects to the World Junior Championship after seven players had been named to preliminary rosters. Jamie Drysdale was selected for Team Canada, Albin Sundsvik was selected for Team Sweden, and Trevor Zegras, Sam Colangelo, Jackson LaCombe, and Henry Thrun were all named to Team USA. The only player to not make it to the tournament was Thimo Nickl. Unfortunately, he wasn’t named to Team Austria because he contracted Covid-19. Hopefully, he is able to make a fast and full recovery.

Team Canada – Jamie Drysdale

Drysdale played for Team Canada last year and scored a goal and three points in seven games, helping Canada win Gold. Considering that he was a 17-year old last year, those are pretty good numbers. This time, Drysdale is expected to be one of the top defensemen for Canada, and will likely play on their top defensive pair with Colorado prospect Bowen Byram. The OHL has yet to play any games this season, but hopefully, that won’t impact his play as the tournament begins in a couple weeks.

Team Sweden – Albin Sundsvik

This will be Sundsvik’s first trip to the World Juniors. He’s been playing in the SHL this season and has a goal and three points in 23 games. Sundsvik isn’t a top scorer, but the fact that he’s been playing in the SHL for two seasons is impressive for a teenager. He’s a smart player with a good two-way game. He probably won’t be one of Sweden’s top scorers, but he’s the kind of player that successful teams need to go far in a tournament like this.

Team USA – Colangelo, LaCombe, Thrun, & Zegras

After starting last year’s World Junior Tournament on Team USA’s fourth line and becoming their top forward by the end of the tournament, a lot is expected from Zegras. He had nine assists in his first four games of the tournament, and every single one of them was a primary assist. The only game that he failed to record an assist in was the USA’s final game of the tournament when they lost 1-0 to Team Finland in the quarterfinals. Despite only playing in five games, he finished sixth in tournament scoring and led the tournament in assists. Hopefully, he can have an even better tournament this time around. Zegras has yet to play any hockey games yet this season, as he is waiting for his pro hockey career to get started in Anaheim and San Diego.

This will be Colangelo’s first tournament. Given his age and inexperience, he probably won’t be expected to be one of Team USA’s top players, but he can still be a valuable presence on the third or fourth line. Also, even if he starts the tournament in the bottom six, that doesn’t mean that’s where he’ll finish the tournament. Depending on how things shake out, I’d love to see him play next to Zegras at some point and give the future Anaheim teammates a taste of what it’s like playing together. Colangelo has yet to play in any games this year and is waiting to start his freshman season at Northeastern University.

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This will be the first tournament for both Thrun and LaCombe. Despite their inexperience in this tournament, at least one of them, if not both, will be in Team USA’s top four defensive rotation. Thrun had a wonderful freshman season for Harvard last year but is playing in the USHL this season because of the pandemic. He’s played two games and is scoreless. LaCombe is a high-risk, high-reward player who has been playing defense for only a handful of seasons. If he can get some confidence early in this tournament, he could be incredibly dangerous on the powerplay. He has played six NCAA games this season and has two assists. Similar to Zegras and Colangelo, I’d love to see Thrun and LaCombe play together at some point during the tournament.

The 2021 World Junior Championship starts on Christmas Day, and it should be another great tournament. However, given how starved for hockey fans have been, this tournament could be even bigger than usual. If you’ve been desperately missing hockey since Tampa Bay won the Stanley Cup at the end of September, I highly recommend tuning in to this tournament. Every year, it offers a glimpse of the future of the NHL, and this year’s tournament should be no different.

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December 12th, 2020


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