97 G Adam Huska (NY Rangers, 2015) – Slovakia
Huska carried plenty of workload in the goal for Slovakia and performed extremely well by making timely saves to keep his team in some of the games. Showed terrific reflexes and lots of competitiveness in the crease, as well as very good quickness to make some terrific secondary saves. At times he had trouble with his rebound control; however, it’s fair to say that Huska was the best player on the Slovakian team.
98 D Olli Juolevi (2016 NHL Draft Eligible) – Finland
Juolevi has already broken the record for most points by a 17-year-old defenseman at the World Juniors, having nine assists through five games. He’s such a strong two-way defenseman that impacts the game in multiple ways. Really excels in the transition game because of his ability to find an opening and move the puck forward. He’s involved offensively and runs the power play with poise, passes are constantly tape-to-tape. Excellent skater with above-average speed and balance. Good stick and gap control. Having seen Juolevi quite a bit last season, his strong tournament is definitely not a surprise, he’s a defenseman that does so many things at a high level.
98 F Patrik Laine (2016 NHL Draft Eligible) – Finland
Laine has improved his skating drastically this season, his stride looks more clean and his first steps are much better than last season. Has built excellent chemistry with two other standout forwards Sebastian Aho and Jesse Puljujärvi. Laine’s shot is absolutely deadly, especially wrist shot as he can put a ton of velocity on it. He’s physically strong, very tough to knock off the puck. Laine has some deft hands as well, exhibits plenty of confidence with the puck.
97 F Auston Matthews (2016 NHL Draft Eligible) – USA
Matthews has been improving throughout the tournament and scored three goals in the quarterfinals against the Czech Republic. One of the hardest working players on the ice with high compete level. Has excellent hands in tight, processes the game quickly. Powerful skater who gets around very easily, especially for his age. Displays confident shooting abilities. Very responsible defensively, doesn’t take any shortcuts and brings consistently a strong effort.
98 F Jesse Puljujärvi (2016 NHL Draft Eligible) – Finland
Puljujärvi has had an outstanding tournament. He’s an extremely dynamic player with above-average skating in straight line. He’s got excellent speed when entering the offensive zone and attacks straight-forward to the net. Makes others around him better, plays a very complete game. Dangerous shooter with excellent accuracy, currently having 29.41 shooting percentage. Puljujärvi has been slightly ineffective in the Finnish Elite League this season but I think he’s making a strong case for the first overall pick with his playing at the World Juniors.
Some other prospects who have been notable at the tournament:
98 F Alexander Nylander – The Swedish forward has all kinds of skill and has looked like a TOP-10 prospect for the 2016 NHL Draft, if not TOP-5.
96 G Linus Söderström – Fourth round pick of the New York Islanders has been stellar for Sweden, made 46 saves against Team USA in the second game.
97 D Zach Werenski – The entire defense has been good for Team USA, though Werenski is clearly the leader and provides an offensive element from the back end.
97 F Michael Spacek – The Jets prospect had 19 shots in the tournament, consistently had a positive impact in the three games I saw from Czechs.
96 F Pius Suter – Undrafted Swiss forward scored three goals in their last game against Belarus, is a strong skater. Has a chance to be drafted next June.
97 F Denis Malgin – The Panthers prospect is small but a nice playmaker. Not overly fast but smart and strong on his skates. Scored nine points for the Swiss team.