For the NHL Draft prospect junkie, January is a particularly interesting month given the information available and events that take place. On the event side, the World Junior Championship wraps up in early January, while the BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game normally takes place at mid-month (and in fact is taking place tomorrow night).
After the heroics provided by current Ottawa Senators forward Mika Zibanejad at the 2012 World Junior Championship, when he broke in alone on Team Russia’s net in overtime and deked out Russian goalie Andrey Makarov to decide the tournament in Sweden’s favor, Team Sweden faced a pre-tournament rash of injuries on its way to Ufa in 2013. The team nonetheless went about gaining a silver medal against a USA squad that has become somewhat of a nemesis at various international levels in recent years. Now, Sweden's 2014 WJC entry is entering the tournament, hosted by the country’s third largest city of Malmö, with only one goal on its mind: taking gold on its home turf.
No news is good news if you're Kootenay Ice center Sam Reinhart, at least when it comes to the ISS Hockey December rankings for the 2014 NHL Draft. Reinhart is holding steady as the top-ranked prospect for the coming year's draft, a position he has held in these rankings for the four releases that ISS Hockey has produced in the 2013 portion of this season.
In recent years, Sweden has sent several prospects to the NHL Draft, with a few of them being chosen in the first round. After producing such potentially great prospects as Mka Zibanejad, Filip Forsberg and Elias Lindholm in the past couple of drafts, Calgary-born son of Michael Nylander, William Nylander, is heading this year's Swedish draft class. The next big Swedish gun is not Swedish-born, but he definitely has a lot of Sweden in his veins.