Coming into the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship, Team USA forward Auston Matthews was considered the top prospect for the 2016 NHL Draft competing at this event. Matthews did nothing to dent that reputation over the course of the tournament as he finished tied for fourth in WJC scoring with teammate and fellow 2016 prospect, Matthew Tkachuk.
But few anticipated the impact that the group of 2016-eligible players competing at this tournament would have, or that any of them could overshadow the player that was perhaps the best talent competing in Helsinki, Finland. For instance, the Finnish duo of Jesse Puljujarvi and Patrik Laine played a major role in their country’s gold medal performance, with Puljujarvi receiving both Best Forward and MVP awards at the tournament’s completion.
Beyond that, the aforementioned Tkachuk acquitted himself very well for the USA, while Sweden’s Alexander Nylander and Finland’s Olli Juolevi also finished among the top-10 scorers at this WJC.
So, what had been presumed to be a coming-out party for Matthews instead ended up being a stage for several top 2016 prospects to show that this year’s draft crop is one that will no doubt have NHL scouts drooling in anticipation.
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