Photo: The 2013 draft class for the Czech Republic isn't deep, but one player whose name could be called is Třinec defender Alex Pisarik (courtesy of Luboš Lang/Czech Ice Hockey Association)
At last year's NHL Draft, Canadian and American defensemen took over a large part of the first round. Seven of them were selected among the top ten of the draft, an indication that the 2012 North American defensive class was simply exceptional.
Photo: The father of Ceske Budejovice forward Lubos Rob, Jr. was drafted by the New York Rangers in the fifth round of the 1990 NHL Draft (courtesy of Ceske Budejovice)
After an impressive performance at the 2012 Ivan Hlinka Tournament, which the Czech Republic co-hosted alongside Slovakia, the Czech U-18 national team is off to a successful season. Not only did they manage to play tight games with elite countries back in August, their perfect team play also caused Russia to lose one of three friendly games the two countries played in mid-December.
Photo: Moncton Wildcats forward and St. Louis Blues draft pick Dmitri Jaskin built on his strong showing in the QMJHL this season to turn in an equally strong showing for his country at the 2013 WJC (courtesy of Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
As was the case a year ago at the World Junior Championship in Alberta, the Czech Republic's Under-20 national team once again advanced from the group stage and, this time alongside Switzerland, created an upset for another big hockey country.
Photo: Highly-rated 2013 prospect Aleksander Barkov of Finland has roots in the country that is hosting the 2013 World Junior Championship, Russia (courtesy of Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Team Sweden is sporting the best power-play, coming in at 35.71%, while the USA tops penalty killing units at 88.24%. Interestingly enough, no team has been on the power-play more than Sweden and only Russia has been shorthanded less than the USA.
Photo: Although Edmonton Oilers prospect Nail Yakupov has generated a bit of offense for Russia at the 2013 WJC, he has not been the offensive force he will need to be if Russia is to take the gold medal (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
For hockey fans across the globe, the preliminary round of the 2013 IIHF WJC has been just about everything anyone had ever hoped for. There’s been no lack of tension, rivalries, intrigue and background stories that have come together to make this tournament the type that fans everywhere crave.