The World Junior Championships have wrapped up the prelims and we look forward to the elimation round beginning tomorrow morning Edmonton time. For the 5 Edmonton Oiler prospects this WJ has been a mostly positive experience and a week of fun for the Nuge.
WORLD JUNIOR STATS AFTER THE PRELIMS
- #1 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 4, 3-8-11 +6 2pims 13 shots
- #13 (tie) Nail Yakupov 4, 1-3-4 +1 0pims 8shots
- Tobias Rieder 4, 2-0-2 -7 2ppg 0pims 17 shots
- Daniil Zharkov 4, 1-0-1 2pims 5 shots
- David Musil 4, 0-0-0 +1 8pims 4 shots
Nugent-Hopkins has been splendid–beyond splendid–for the Canadians, leading the tournament in points (2nd place–7 points) and playing a vital role on a team that has scored 21 goals in 4 games. The Nuge has come up big in the close games, boasting one of 2 goals against the Americans and 3 assists among the 4 goals scored on the Russians.
Much has been made of Nail Yakupov’s struggles, but he did get an assist in the game against the USA and had a few moments against the Canadians. I think there’s a lot of try–too much try–but its clear he’s an elite talent and the tournament of small sample sizes should not change your opinion about this player. Of some concern is the system he’s playing under–he’s cheating for offense always and the coach hasn’t altered the decision–but Yakupov has done some nice things while without the puck as well. I think its best to remember his age and acknowledge there’s some ways to go in terms of structure.
Tobias Rieder has become a favorite of Oiler fans at the WJ’s because he’s skilled and a hard worker. Although still suffering some of the effects of a recent injury, Rieder has been a strong player for the German team. It’ll be interesting to see where the club slots Rieder when he turns pro–he might be the best in-house candidate for that 2-way forward we’re always talking about these days.
Daniil Zharkov has impressed me with how often he’s in the play and doing something useful. He doesn’t appear to have the hands we’d hoped for, but there are all kinds of tools and he’s miles from being the sum of his parts.
David Musil has been playing in the other pool, I asked Corey Pronman about him this week and he suggested Musil has been less impressive on the big ice this Christmas than he was in Canada one year ago. Foot speed remains the issue with this player.