The World Junior Championships have come to an exciting end with Canada holding on to beat Russia 5-4 in the gold medal game. This tournament offers hockey fans a great look at the up-and-coming players that could fill the NHL ranks soon. With that, lets take a look at the Canucks prospects specifically in the January edition of the Vancity Buzz Prospects Report.
The Canucks were well represented at the World Juniors this year, with three players donning their country’s colours. Gustav Forsling (Sweden), Thatcher Demko (USA) and Jake Virtanen (Canada) all acquitted themselves very well at the tournament. The future looks a little brighter for the Canucks after the performance of their 2014 draft class at the tournament.
7 GP – 3 G, 5 A, 8 Pts (Sweden)
A 5th round pick in the 2014 draft, Gustav Forsling was an unknown commodity to most Canucks fans heading into this tournament. But after his performance, he won’t be unknown for much longer. Forsling was quarterbacking the Swedish power play with Maple Leafs 1st round pick William Nylander. The power play was dynamic, going 6-for-30, with Forsling scoring 3 of those goals with the man advantage. Forsling ended the tournament as the leading scorer among defencemen and earned a spot on the tournament all-star team.
WJHC all-stars per media vote:
Domi, Reinhart, McDavid.
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) January 6, 2015
Forsling is still quite slender (172 lbs) but he positions himself well in the defensive zone and uses his long reach to avoid being overpowered. So there shouldn’t be concern about Forsling just being a power play quarterback. Forsling is eligible to return to the World Juniors next year, and I fully expect him to shine.
He will return to the Swedish Hockey League for the rest of this season. Every team needs a defenceman that can run their power play, and it looks like the Canucks might have that in Forsling.
4 GP – 2-2-0, 1.74 GAA, 0.934 SV% (USA)
Thatcher Demko’s World Junior tournament came to an abrupt end when the United States lost to Russia in the quarterfinals. Unfortunately for Demko, the Americans started playing very undisciplined and Russia took full advantage.
The Americans could not blame their loss on their goaltending, because Demko played exceptionally well throughout the entire tournament. Demko’s tournament was highlighted by the New Year’s Eve game against Canada, where he made 38 saves, including this great save on Nurse:
Demko was calm, technically sound and made athletic saves throughout the entire tournament. He gave the young US squad the steady play that is needed to win it all. The United States was full of underage players, which is one of the main reasons for their undisciplined play against Russia. Sadly for Demko, this was his last year of eligibility the World Juniors.
When I see Demko play, I am reminded of fellow American Cory Schneider. Schneider was supposed to be the goalie of the future, so hopefully the Canucks have found their new goalie of the future. Based on the way Demko played, I think they have.
7 GP – 1 G, 3 A, 4 Pts (Canada)
Jake Virtanen is the player from the 2014 NHL draft that the Canucks hope becomes a star. Luckily Virtanen acquitted himself quite well throughout the entire tournament. Virtanen was bounced throughout the lineup, but always seemed to make himself noticeable.
His ‘meat and potatoes’ style of game allowed him to make an impact when he was playing on the 4th line. His dynamic speed and shot made him fit right in with stars Connor McDavid and Curtis Lazar.
Here is a perfect example of what Canucks fans hope to see from Virtanen:
Virtanen started the season slow in the WHL but seems to have found his game during this tournament. I expect him to head back to the Calgary Hitmen and have a great second half. I would also expect Virtanen to represent Canada again next year.
It was great to see Canucks prospects doing well at the World Juniors, as this is the first time that most few fans get to see them play. Hopefully all three players can build off their success and have a great remainder of the season.
Feaure Image: hockeycanada.ca