With their respective junior league teams out of contention, or their European clubs allowing them to play, several big name prospects for the 2014 Entry Draft took part in the IIHF U18 World Championship recently. Here, we take a look at several key prospects who may have helped, or hurt, their draft stock. (All stats taken from eliteprospects.com)
C/RW William Nylander - GP 7 G 6 A 10 P 16 PIM 0 (+/-) 8
- Nylander was on an entirely different level than the rest of the competition in this tournament, averaging over 2 points a game in 7 contests, leading to his being awarded the Best Forward Award in the tourney. Nylander is an explosive, shifty forward who has been known to be streaky, and has had trouble finding a home this year. The ability to produce at key times, however, should have NHL scouts taking notes. He was unable to propel Sweden to a medal; nonetheless, there's no reason Nylander's draft stock shouldn't rise.
G Mason McDonald - GP 6 GAA 1.94 SV% .930 (4-2-0)
- As the goaltender ranked second on NHL Central Scouting's final rankings, McDonald possibly could have made a case to be number one with his performance in the Worlds, capturing a bronze medal and Best Goaltender honors. Guiding a Canada team that was severely lacking in offense, McDonald and Canada's defense managed to salvage a bronze. His problem may be consistency; he hasn't found dominant success in the QMJHL this year, though, as he showed, the talent is there. Though it may be hard for a goalie to pass Thatcher Demko as number one in this year's draft, it won't be surprising if McDonald does do it.
D Haydn Fleury - GP 7 G 0 A 1 P 1 PIM 4 (+/-) 0
- Fleury, known as a savvy two way defenseman with a bit of an offensive punch, instead showcased his defensive skills during the Worlds, as he only managed one assist in 7 games, he was named Best Defenseman, a testament to the defensive skill he exhibited throughout the tournament. Canada's offense was extremely lacking in this tournament, and Fleury was heavily depended on during Canada's run to bronze. Showcasing his defensive acumen may have raised his draft stock more than can be predicted, as he is now by far the second best defenseman available in the draft, and a team may be more likely to take a chance on him higher up in the draft order.
C Axel Holmström - GP 7 G 3 A 8 P 11 PIM 4 (+/-) 8
- Holmström is a bit of an interesting study, as he has put up good numbers, but has had chemistry with Nylander almost all season, which quite possibly leads to his low ranking in NHL Central Scouting (90th). Still, he will most likely fall to the third or fourth round in the draft, and if he's still available when the team who has already selected Nylander is drafting, why not take a chance and see if he's able to replicate that chemistry? Players such as Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz have been able to make successful careers simply out of gelling with star players. Why not give Holmström the same chance?
LW/RW Kevin Fiala - GP 5 G 4 A 5 P 9 PIM 8 (+/-) 4
- Fiala produced for the Swiss, averaging nearly two points a game during the tournament. Fiala is considered a big time hit or miss prospect, as per Hockey's Future.
"A high risk/high reward prospect, projections on Fiala range from him becoming a Patrick Kane-type scorer to a player who puts up big numbers in Europe his entire career; never skating in the NHL."
Helping Fiala's chances are the fact that he seems to produce under pressure, especially in significant international tournaments such as the World Championships. This may cause a team to risk a higher pick on the potential "boom" prospect coming out of Switzerland.
Honorable Mentions - Jakub Vrana, Sonny Milano.
RW Kasperi Kapanen - GP 5 G 1 A 1 P 2 PIM 0 (+/-) -3
- Kapanen would probably like to forget his lackluster performance, in which he only totaled 2 points through 5 games and Finland fell in the quarter finals. Though the skill is there for Kapanen, going cold in an international tournament will never help one's draft stock.
C/RW Alex Tuch - GP 7 G 0 A 3 P 3 PIM 14 (+/-) 5
- It's hard to say a player had a bad tournament when his team wins it, but Tuch didn't necessarily impress. 3 points in 7 games is most certainly not going to inspire scouts, and is almost doubling concerning when taken with the fact that Tuch averaged almost 2 PIM a game. Tuch is going to have to hope that his impressive season with the USNDTP is enough to convince a team of his value.
Dishonorable Mentions - Jared McCann
RW/C Jake Virtanen - GP 7 G 3 A 3 P 6 PIM 10 (+/-) 2
- Virtanen neither raised nor lowered his draft stock. He did just about what was expected of him for Team Canada, averaging about a point a game in the tournament.
LW Brendan Perlini - GP 7 G 3 A 1 P 4 PIM 6 (+/-) 2
- Perlini essentially did the same as Virtanen, though his point production was a tad lower. Canada's troubles in the forward position at this tournament are best shown through these two, as no one on Canada finished in the Top 15 in scoring and no one who played all 7 games averaged a point a game.
Regardless of how prospects stacked up against one another, the games were exciting to watch. Poor Denmark was left out to dry without the help of Nikolaj Ehlers, who is still playing for the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL. The United States won gold, the Czech Republic took silver, Canada won bronze, and Sweden lost the bronze medal game. Switzerland showcased some young talent that may help further success they found at the IIHF World Championships in 2013. Though some of these players may never again don the colors of their home country, the experiences they received should be enough to create at least some memories.
For more on the U18 World Championship, head over to SBNation's College Hockey for their review of the tournament.