Predators 2006 WJC preview

By Glen Erickson

Over the course of the next couple of weeks, a total of five Nashville Predators prospects will take part in the 2006 World Junior Championships, scheduled for British Columbia, Canada, Dec. 26 – Jan. 5.

Laakso, Teemu, D – IFK, Helsinki (3rd Round, 2005 Entry Draft)
Height: 6’0. Weight: 196 lbs. Age: 18

Laasko has played at international competitions in Canada before, specifically with the Finnish team at the 2004 Viking Cup in Camrose, Alberta.

Over the years, Finland has generally been viewed as a country focused on icing junior teams based on foot speed and offensive prowess. In recent years, the Finns have begun to play a more in-your-face style of hockey. Based on his physical stature, Laasko will help to create open ice if he commits to bringing some nastiness to the WJC. With IFK Helsinki, he has two goals and 10 penalty minutes in 30 games this season.

Meidl, Vaclav, F – Plymouth Whalers (3rd Round, 2004 Entry Draft)
Height: 6’5. Weight: 215 lbs. Age: 19

Meidl has represented his homeland on international teams since he was 16. One of the biggest players in the OHL, Meidl is playing in his third season with the Plymouth Whalers.

Upon returning from the Predators training camp in September, Whalers head coach Mike Velluci figured the professional experience would produce a highly motivated Meidl.

“We saw a definite change in him, in all areas of his attitude and his performance,” Velluci offered. “He realizes how hard guys work on and off ice at the pro level. He seems to better understand now that everything we ask the players to do here is for a good reason.”

Meidl has 17 points in 30 games with Plymouth. The WJC will provide him an opportunity to raise his stock within the Preds organization. He is one of 19 drafted players who were considered for the Czech Republic WJC team.

Parent, Ryan, D – Guelph Storm (1st Round, 2005 Entry Draft: 18th Overall)
Height: 6’2. Weight: 200lbs. Age: 18.

Parent was considered by many as a guarantee on defense for Team Canada prior to the training camp in Vancouver. Canada is said to be an underdog at the WJC, due in large part to the team’s average age being just slightly higher than 18 years old.

Parent was a member of the OHL squad in the 2005 ADT Canada/Russia Challenge that won both games, in Kitchener on Nov. 24 and Peterborough on Nov. 28. Earlier this year, Parent captained the Canadian team to a silver medal at the IIHF U-18 World Championship played in the Czech Republic.

Cam Barker (CHI), the only returning player from Canada’s 2005 gold medal winning WJC team, will likely quarterback the power play in Vancouver. Parent may see some time on the power play as well, but will be looked upon to provide solid penalty killing and toughness in front of goaltenders Justin Pogge (TOR) and Devan Dubnyk (EDM).

Parent was reassigned to the Guelph Storm of the OHL in mid-September, where he is expected to continue developing his already renowned leadership skills. There he has 14 points in 30 games. The 6’2, 190-pound native of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan has been a leader on every select team he has played for. Team Canada will be looking to Parent for these same qualities at the WJC.

Radulov, Alexander F – Quebec Remparts (1st Round, 2004 Entry Draft: 15th Overall)
Height: 6’1. Weight: 190 lbs. Age: 19.

The Quebec Remparts have acknowledged Radulov is slated to join the Russian squad on December 19.

One of 11 returnees to the Russian contingent, Radulov brings impressive QMJHL offensive numbers to a select team already being touted as a shoo-in for a spot in the WJC gold medal game. However, Radulov will, like every other Russian player, be relegated to second-fiddle status with Evgeni Malkin (PIT) leading the team into Vancouver. Radulov can make a huge statement at the WJC by providing some valuable secondary scoring.

Last year, the 6’1, 188-pound forward played for Russia at the 2005 WJC in North Dakota, where he collected a silver medal. This season, Radulov is refining his game on North American ice while playing along side another highly touted youngster, Angelo Esposito, who was cut by Team Canada after attending the WJC training camp last week.

Earlier this season, Radulov participated as the only CHL product on the Russian roster for the two ADT Russia/Canada series games against the QMJHL. He has 70 points in 30 games with the Remparts.

Patric Hörnqvist will not be on the Swedish team because Nicklas Bergfors (NJ) has been cleared to play. Hörnqvist has had a very good rookie season in Djurgården seeing quality ice time as a junior and scoring a decent six points in 29 games. His stock has gone up since being drafted last overall in the 2005 draft. Hornqvist played for Sweden at the 2005 U-18 World Championships.

Johan Nilsson contributed to this report. Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.