This year’s World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic were not impressive for the six Coyotes participants. The great thing about this tournament was that all six of the players are eligible to return to there respective teams next year in Canada along with new players who are signed, traded, or drafted up to next years Championships. Below is a look at each player in a summary of how they produced at the Championships this year. Enjoy!
Fredrik Sjostrom, Sweden – Fredrik ended the tournament up on a strong note with a couple strong games and sufficient playing time. Although Sjostrom didn’t register a point during the tournament, he was promoted to the second line during the 3-2 loss to team USA. Sjostrom showed strong play along the boards but didn’t receive much help from Daniel Widing or Par Backer, who had an exceptional tournament. The 6-foot, 195 lb., right wing from Sweden, finished the tournament with a plus two along with 11 shots on goal. Look for Sjostrom to have a great second half with the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League.
7 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 P, 4 PIM, +2, 11 SOG
Ruslan Zainullan, Russia – Zainullan didn’t make a huge difference on a Russian team that beat Canada in the World Junior Championship finals. He remained on the 4th line the whole tournament with limited ice time in even strength and specialty teams. Ruslan will return to his team in Ak-Bars and hope to continue to make an impact their as he has so far this season. Don’t look at this is a bad tournament for Zainullan as he never had a chance to prove himself.
7 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 P, 2 PIM, -1, 0 SOG
Martin Podlesak, Czech Republic – The next couple days after I blasted Podlesak for not playing well, he goes out and scores a goal in each of the next two games. The case on this one is that I spoke to soon. Podlesak finished the tournament on a better note then he had created for himself, through the first half of the tournament. Podlesak will most likely also have a shot to come back and play next year for the Czechs although he won’t have a host crowd to cheer him on. On an endnote, Podlesak supposedly played center and left wing during the tournament at both 2nd and 3rd lines.
7 GP, 2 G, 0 A, 2 P, 2 PIM, +2, 15 SOG
Frantisek Lukes, Czech Republic – Lukes had a no show affect in every game he played in and his statistics show that in only one assist he registered in the second USA game on Podelsak’s first goal of the tournament. Lukes like Podlesak, Sjostrom, Zainullan, Forster and Blindenbacher, will be eligible to return in next years World Junior Championships in Canada, where he can prove himself to the Coyotes with other prospects in the organization. Lukes will return to St. Michael’s Majors the Ontario Hockey League and hope to resume the point production he had up there, which led to over a point per game.
7 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 P, 0 PIM, +3, 5 SOG
Beat Forster, Switzerland – Forster’s physical presence help lead the Swiss to a top 4 finish in this championship. He not only surprised me with his strong play but he also surprised viewers and scouts of the tournament. Forster finished the tournament with two points and 10 penalty minutes. A huge disappointment was his plus-minus of the tournament which ended at a minus six. One thing to look for in the future is that he got sucker-puched by Spitov of team Russia during their Preliminary Round match, who is in the Tampa Bay organization. Tampa Bay and Phoenix share the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League, which is where most prospects of each team end up to work on their game in preparation for the NHL. Will something else come of it, only time will tell?
1 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 2 P, 10 PIM, -6, 16 SOG
Severin Blindenbacher, Switzerland – Blindenbacher played well for 2nd pair defense and played a little with Forster during the games. Blindenbacher did not receive considerable specialty teams time like he does with his team in Kloten. Blindenbacher will most likely be back playing with Forster on defense for the Swiss in Canada. Unlike Forster, Blindenbacher finished up on the positive side on the plus-minus status with a plus two, 10 shots on goal, and four penalty minutes.
7 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 P, 4 PIM, +2, 10 SOG