Photo: Frolunda Indians forward and Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Alexander Wennberg is leading Sweden on the scoresheet at the 2014 WJC, picking up three goals and four assists in four games (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
As the host team for the 2014 World Junior Championship, Sweden has so far avoided the trap of being a highly-favored host that suffers an ignominious defeat at the hands of a weaker opponent. But the stakes get a little higher for the Swedes with the end of the preliminary round and the start of the playoff round, which sees them facing plucky Slovakia in their quarterfinal match.
Photo: The host country for the 2014 World Junior Championship, Sweden, has performed well so far at this WJC, going undefeated in three games including a 5-3 win over Switzerland on opening night (courtesy of LUDVIG THUNMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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.
Photo: Gatineau Olympiques forward and Montreal Canadiens prospect Martin Reway will no doubt be a main offensive cog for Slovakia at the 2014 WJC as he is currently scoring at a better than point-per-game pace for the Olympiques this season (courtesy of Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Slovakia had a bit of a rollercoaster ride at the 2013 WJC in Ufa. After a near miss, 3-2 loss to host Russia in the opener, the Slovaks managed to drive Canada crazy with 2-0 and 3-1 leads heading towards the midway mark of the game before ultimately succumbing, 6-3. The team then had more trouble with Germany than it probably should have, tying the game late and winning 2-1 in overtime. This was followed by a 9-3 trouncing at the hands of the USA. The team then won a hard-fought victory over Latvia 5-3 to avoid relegation before getting blown away 11-4 by Finland in a game that had no bearing on the standings for either team.
Photo: Slovakian forward Adrian Holesinsky spent the 2012-13 season playing in Sweden for Vasteras (courtesy of Jakub Homola)
One of the host countries for the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, Slovakia, has had a difficult time at this year's tourney. The team failed to win any of their four games, with the most recent loss being an 11-0 drubbing at the hands of Sweden in the seventh place match.
Photo: Dallas Stars prospect Valeri Nichushkin was the first Russian player chosen at the 2013 NHL Draft, going 10th overall to the Stars (courtesy of Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)
The number of players drafted out of the KHL at the 2013 NHL Draft wasn’t large, but confirmations and surprises were there as always in each NHL Draft. The scarce number of players coming out of the top Russian league is due not only to the infamous “Russian Factor”, but also to the fact that many junior players are now playing in the CHL, something that wasn’t happening as often until recent years.