German hockey has produced very few NHL Draft prospects directly, although some players have been selected after apprenticing in the CHL leagues. This year is likely no different for that country, with only a trio of prospects having any real chance of being chosen in the 2012 NHL Draft.
Team Canada entered the 2011 World Junior Hockey Championship with a team built for revenge. And while a modern demon was exorcised in the semi-finals, it was a more traditional bane — Russia — that walked away with the gold.
Staking the North American rivals to a 3-0 lead, the Russian bear roared back with five unanswered goals in the third period en route to claiming World Junior gold 5-3. While early concerns about Canada’s goal-scoring proved largely unfounded (in fact, 16 different Canucks scored over the tournament), it was Russia‘s elite offensive talent that the Canucks weren’t able to match.
Many looked at the Canadian roster as a team designed to beat the U.S. — which it did. Unfortunately, for Team Canada, a club built to avenge last year’s gold-medal game loss to the Americans wasn’t built to meet this year’s needs. When push came to shove, Canada couldn’t find that superlative offensive game-breaker — like Russia‘s Vladimir Tarasenko (STL) — who could take over the tourney.
The polite thing to say is that every team has a chance. That’s the polite thing to say — the honest thing would be something totally different. For some teams, participation in the World Junior Championship isn’t about medaling — rather it’s about measuring your program against the world’s elite and avoiding relegation.
For a quartet of teams, gold is out of the question — and for a trio of these squads, they’re hoping for nothing more than to avoid the relegation purgatory often occupied by the Austrias, Latvias, Kazakhstans, Denmarks, and Belaruses of the world.
And while some of the teams below may serve as trap games for the tournament’s elite at best — and cannon fodder at worst — there are still a few reasons to tune in to watch these teams compete at the 2011 World Junior Hockey Championships in Buffalo, NY.
It’s heartbreaking to include the Finns in a list of this nature. This proud hockey nation has produced some of the league’s most dynamic players over the years: Teemu Selanne, the Koivu brothers, and Miika Kiprusoff come to the top of mind. As of late, the well’s run dry.