It has been an interesting 2014 World Junior Championship so far, with one major upset plus a fair amont of offense being generated, albeit with a couple of teams proving to be far more generous than most of the field competing in Malmo, Sweden.
The 2014 World Junior Championship is set to begin Thursday in Malmö, Sweden with the Czech Republic squad looking to surprise some observers. The Czechs performed well last year in Ufa, Russia, beating Latvia, Switzerland and Finland before being eliminated by the United States in the quarterfinals following a 7-0 victory for the Americans. The Czechs ended last year's WJC in fifth place, but may be hard pressed to equal that accomplishment this year.
It looks like it could be a solid draft year for the Czech Republic in 2014 with David Pastrňák and Jakub Vrána, two upper round candidates based in Sweden, and many more potential later round prospects playing either in Sweden, Canada or in their homeland. Thanks to a new rule implemented by the Czech Ice Hockey Association, prospects are also getting much more ice-time in the Extraliga than in recent years.
Unable to create many opportunities for young players, Czech youth hockey is slowly losing influence. The system has been collapsing, with the main problems being economics and training methods. It's no wonder that talented Czech players try their luck abroad, not just in Canada or the United States, but also in Sweden, a country that has recently produced loads of big-time NHL prospects.