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Saturday’s Canada-Sweden World Juniors Matchup Is Additionally A 2023 NHL Draft Showcase – Forbes

Playoff seeding shall be selected Saturday, on the ultimate day of round-robin competitors on the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Sweden and Finland lead their respective teams. However Czechia and Canada are shut sufficient to probably overtake the Swedes in Group A, whereas Slovakia and america are inside hanging distance of Finland in Group B.

As soon as the highest 4 seeds in every Group are decided, groups will cross over for quarterfinal elimination video games on Monday. The semifinals shall be performed on Wednesday, and the medal video games on Thursday.

The marquee matchup on Saturday will see the defending champions from Canada tackle Sweden (6:30 p.m. ET). The Swedes are the one unbeaten staff within the event and have given up simply two objectives in three video games.

The host Canadians stumbled out of the gate, getting upset by the Czechs of their first sport, however then went on to massive wins over Germany and Austria. Canada wants a regulation win on Saturday to complete above Sweden within the standings, however Czechia can clinch first place in Group A with a win of any kind over Germany (1:30 p.m. ET).

And whereas the whole World Junior event is wealthy with prospects who shall be eligible for the 2023 NHL Draft, Canada-Sweden shall be of explicit curiosity to scouts. The sport will function a head-to-head battle between arguably the top three prospects in a talent-rich class that has been anticipated for the final a number of years: forwards Connor Bedard and Adam Fantilli of Canada and Leo Carlsson of Sweden.

In a event that’s sometimes dominated by 19-year-olds, the 17-year-old Bedard is the runaway scoring chief via the primary 5 days of play, with six objectives and eight assists for 14 factors in three video games.

His teammate Logan Stankoven, a second-round decide of the Dallas Stars in 2021, is second with seven factors. Seven different gamers are tied with 5.

By comparability, Fantilli has been quiet up to now, with one purpose and two assists. Carlsson has two assists so far — and whereas he dressed for Sweden’s 3-2 time beyond regulation win over Czechia on Thursday, he didn’t see any ice time as he was feeling underneath the climate. He’s anticipated to be within the lineup in opposition to Canada.

In Group B, Finland holds a one-point lead over each Slovakia and the U.S., after profitable two video games and dropping in time beyond regulation of their opener in opposition to Switzerland. The Slovaks misplaced in regulation to the Finns, and the People misplaced in regulation to Slovakia.

Saturday’s matchups will see Slovakia face Switzerland (11 a.m. ET) whereas Finland faces the U.S. (4 p.m. ET). A win of any kind for Finland would assure first place.

Gold medalists in 2021, Staff USA has principally flown underneath the radar up to now this yr. Wednesday’s 6-3 loss to Slovakia was bookended by environment friendly wins over Latvia and Switzerland. The hardest check of the round-robin awaits, in opposition to Finland.

The People have a comparatively younger roster and have been led offensively by a pair of 2022 top-five draft picks, Logan Cooley (third, Arizona) and Cutter Gauthier (fifth, Philadephia). Particular groups have been a energy, and on the again finish, captain Luke Hughes has been a workhorse. The fourth-overall decide of the New Jersey Devils in 2021, Hughes leads his staff with 22:00 of ice time per sport — though that’s greater than 5 minutes a sport lower than event chief Topias Vilen of Finland (27:23). The 2 rearguards may discover themselves as teammates down the street: Vilen was additionally drafted by the Devils in 2021, within the fifth spherical.

With the midpoint of the NHL season rapidly approaching, and Bedard persevering with to match or exceed sky-high expectations, hypothesis will quickly start to extend about which groups shall be greatest positioned to get a crack at this yr’s very worthwhile first-overall decide.

The Chicago Blackhawks have been essentially the most aggressive of their race to the underside this season. They’re 1-9-0 of their final 10 video games, which has moved them into final place general. It’s additionally anticipated that they’ll quickly enter into discussions about whether or not to maneuver on from franchise stalwarts Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, who’re each set to turn into unrestricted free brokers this summer season, earlier than the March 3 commerce deadline.

However the Columbus Blue Jackets are conserving the Blackhawks of their sights. Losers of seven in a row, they’re simply two factors forward via Dec. 30, with a document of 10-22-2 for 22 factors. Common supervisor Jarmo Kekalainen possible didn’t image his staff on this place when he landed prized free agent Johnny Gaudreau final July. However with a prize like Bedard probably inside attain, he could be well-served to unload any gamers he can on the deadline and make a concerted push for final place.

Ditto, Anaheim. With 24 factors in 37 video games, the Geese have the identical factors share because the Blue Jackets — and simply three regulation wins all season. Anaheim has additionally collected a pleasant roster of younger expertise over the previous few years, together with Mason McTavish — the MVP of the 2022 World Junior event final summer season, and Bedard’s linemate on Canada’s gold-medal squad.

In November, Bedard named McTavish because the linemate he’d most like to start out his NHL profession with — and he would possibly simply get his want.

Primarily based on the NHL’s newest draft lottery guidelines, the Geese would have an 11.5% probability of profitable the first-overall decide from their present place, per Tankathon. And whereas all 16 non-playoff groups shall be within the draft lottery, no staff can transfer up greater than 10 locations. So, solely the underside 11 are in competition for No. 1.

The last-place staff may have a 25.5% probability of choosing first general in Nashville subsequent June. And that decide may yield a generational expertise with the ability to vary the fortune of a franchise.

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