Every year the U20 World Junior Championship is a very exciting tournament. It provides fans with the opportunity to not only watch and cheer on their home country, but it also gives the chance to watch the top NHL prospects showcase their talents.
With over 50 NHL prospects entering the tournament there was a lot to look out for. With high expectations for most, the U20 WJC had some surprising outcomes for these players.
This article will showcase the top three boom performances and the top three disappointing (bust) performances.
1. G Juuse Saros (FIN)
Goaltending has always been the biggest factor for team success in this tournament. When looking at the medal recipients, all three had quality goaltending. Saros surprised many this year. While he is a talented netminder, his size (for NHL purposes) was an issue. In this tournament he was able to counteract his flaws with his speed and lateral movement. He produced a 1.57 Goals Against Average (GAA) .943 Save Percentage (SV%) in six games while winning the gold medal.
2. C Teuvo Teravainen (FIN)
Playing as the cornerstone of Finland and top line center, Teravainen made his presence well known as an offensive threat every time he stepped on the ice. He was able to demonstrate the exceptionally soft hands that have many scouts raving about his talent as a top prospect. With a few key offensive members not able to attend the tournament, it was especially important for Teravainen to produce as the top Finland forward. He was able to be the points leader with 12 in seven games.
3. G Andrei Vasilevski (RUS)
Vasilevski remains one of the top NHL goalie prospects, and there is good reason as to why. After competing in his third U20 WJC tournament, he has been the definition of consistent. In the 2014 tournament, he produced a 1.83 GAA .933 SV% in six games — slightly worse numbers than the tournament one year ago. However, he did show signs of weakness with blocker side attempts. Consistency is especially important for goaltenders, and with Vasilevski not only producing spectacularly in the WJC tournaments, but also in the KHL, he looks to continue on the path to becoming an outstanding NHL goaltender in the near future.
LW Anthony Mantha (CAN)
Tying for third in points as Canada’s point leader, Mantha surprised most with his performance. Mantha has a knack for being in the right place at the right time and adding pressure in front of the net. He has been able to use his tall frame and long arms advantageously to bury rebounds and deke around goalies. His performance this year and the development of Detroit Red Wings prospects shows the potential Mantha has and the future success of his career.
1. C Radek Faksa (CZE)
Faksa’s draft eligible year he was a stud putting up over a point a game. Ever since being drafted by the Dallas Stars he hasn’t been on the same level and seems to lack work ethic or a love for the game. His showings the last few seasons are suggesting that he will not be a high producing player but instead may be destined for a third-line center role with an improvement in his all-around game. Faksa did have the worst performance of the three “busts”.
2. G Jake Paterson (CAN)
Paterson, the third-string goaltender last season, was given the opportunity to be the starting goaltender this tournament. His performance was below average, however, and after losing to the Czech’s, the team knew something needed to change. He was no real viable option as the starting goalie for this team but rather the only option based on his age and experience. His numbers were an abysmal with a 3.36 GAA and .868 SV% in two games.
3. C Leon Draisaitl (GER)
As one of the top draft-eligible prospects this year, Draisaitl was expected to be a big contributor for the German squad. While he did produce point-a-game numbers, recording six points in six game his performance was indicative of his draft stock. The reason for his “bust” performance was simply his suspension, putting the German team in a poor position for the relegation round. His draft stock will not be affected by this tournament, and he remains one of the top prospects in the upcoming draft.