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2022 World Juniors Preview
By Thomas Harrington
After the original tournament was canceled because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the World Junior Championship will start this week in Edmonton. Given when the tournament is now taking place, several players who participated back in December will not be playing in the tournament now.
The Ducks will once again have a number of prospects playing, and will actually have more than they originally did back in December. They now have a 2022 draft pick participating in the tournament, as well as another prospect acquired via trade. For Team Canada, Mason McTavish, Olen Zellweger, and the recently drafted Nathan Gaucher will represent the Ducks. McTavish will serve as Team Canada’s captain. For Team USA, Sasha Pastujov and Ian Moore will represent the Ducks. For Team Sweden, the recently acquired Calle Clang will represent the Ducks.
McTavish has played for the Ducks, Gulls, Petes, Bulldogs and Team Canada, so if he decided to not play in this tournament and instead get himself ready for the upcoming season, that wouldn’t have been surprising. Instead he’s chosen to once again play at the World Juniors. When the tournament was originally played, McTavish skated in two games and scored three goals and five points, tied for second in tournament scoring at the time it was canceled.
Zellweger also played in two games before the tournament was canceled and scored a goal. Owen Power was on the team in December but opted to not participate in it this summer. As arguably the best defenseman on Team Canada, that’s a big void to fill, and Zellweger will be counted on to help fill it.
Gaucher was not on Team Canada in December but is being given a chance to play, since some other forwards are not returning for the tournament restart. While big things are expected out of McTavish and Zellweger, Gaucher will likely see time on the third and fourth lines. Hopefully it’s a great learning experience for him and he’s given a bigger role at the 2023 World Junior Championship.
Team USA only played in one game before the tournament was canceled. Both Pastujov and Moore played in it, neither recording any points. Pastujov had an excellent season for the Guelph Storm and can be an incredibly streaky scorer. While he won’t be counted on to be among the team’s top producers, if he can get hot in the tournament, Team USA could be one of the more offensively dangerous teams. Moore isn’t known for his offensive exploits but is a solid defender in his own end.
Clang will be Sweden’s backup, as Jesper Wallstedt is expected to get a majority of the starts. He didn’t see any action back in December. Hopefully he’ll get a game or two and isn’t relegated to the bench for the entire tournament. Clang was at the 2021 World Juniors but didn’t play in any games.
The tournament will begin on Tuesday. For Anaheim’s prospects, Team USA will face Germany on Tuesday, while Canada will face Latvia and Sweden will face Switzerland on Wednesday. The World Junior Championship is one of the most exciting tournaments for NHL prospects. Hopefully the pandemic won’t disrupt them again and they can declare a winner.
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August 9th, 2022