Photo: Swedish defenseman and Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Tom Nilsson has previously competed internationally for his country, but this is his first time playing at the U-20 WJC (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
For Sweden's Filip Forsberg, the 2013 World Junior Championship provides a chance to cement the idea that Sweden has arrived as a hockey power at the junior level. Forsberg was a part of his country's gold medal squad at the 2012 World Juniors, with his performance at that tournament no doubt helping to solidify his stock for the 2012 NHL Draft.
Photo: Swedish forward Elias Lindholm is among a handful of top 2013 draft prospects competing at the 2013 World Juniors (courtesy of Chapin Landvogt/HF)
Being a top prospect for the NHL Draft can bring a great deal of scrutiny from the scouting world. And, for said top draft prospect, there can be no bigger stage on which to display your abilities for those scouts than the World Junior Championship.
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.
Photo: With injuries to top defenders Jonas Brodin and Oscar Klefbom, Anaheim Ducks prospect Hampus Lindholm has been thrust into a top defensive role for defending WJC champion Sweden (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Surely few can forget how Ottawa Senators prospect Mika Zibanejad broke in alone on Team Russia’s net in overtime of the 2012 WJC, deking out Russian goalie Andrey Makarov to decide the tournament in Sweden’s favor for the first time since 1981. It’s not something viewers will see this year, however, as Zibanejad is one of a number of highly touted Swedish prospects who’ll be missing this tournament due to illness or injury.