With the NHL now on pause until Tuesday, hockey fans are eagerly awaiting today’s start of the 2022 World Junior Championship in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta.
Florida Panthers prospects Justin Sourdif and Jakub Kos will be part of the rosters of Canada and Czechia when the two countries open the tournament against each other in Group A action from Rogers Place in Edmonton at 7 p.m. Sputh Florida time.
Let’s take a look at the two prospects as they ready for their first WJC.
Taken in the third round (87th overall) in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, the speedy and savvy Sourdif is the second player from the WHL’s Vancouver Giants to ever be selected by the Panthers. For all you Florida hockey historians out there, Michael Repik was the first back in 2007.
Prior to being Bill Zito’s fourth selection as the Panthers general manager, Sourdif appeared in 125 career regular season games over his first two seasons with the Giants, amassing 49 goals and 100 points to go along with 75 PIMs and a +56 rating. Additionally, Sourdif suited up in 24 playoff games with Vancouver and produced two goals and six assists, with of all those points coming duing the 2019 postseason.
As WHL rookie in 2018-19, Sourdif led all freshmen Giants with 23 goals, making him just the third Vancouver skater to surpass the 20-goal mark during their 16-year-old season. In his draft season, Sourdif’s 26 goals were second best on the roster and he finished third on the club in scoring with 54 points. In January of 2020, he appeared in the 2020 CHL/NHL Top Prospects game in Hamilton, Ontario and recorded a helper in Team Red’s 5-3 victory over Team White. Last season, Sourdif was named player of the year in the B.C, Division as the WHL played a truncated, division-based schedule due to the COVID-19 panademic. The 19-year-old led all B.C. Division skaters with 23 assists and 34 points, scoring in 17 of Vancouver’s 22 games. He produced nine points on the power play, five while shorthanded and finished with a +10 rating. His 34 points were tied for third-highest in the league behind the Winnipeg Ice’s Peyton Krebs (43) and Ben McCartney (37) of the Brandon Wheat Kings.
Sourdif has continued to produce offense at a high level this season, He currently leads the Giants in scoring with 29 points, one more than Fabian Lysell, in 21 games played. He has scored eight goals and leads the club in assists (21) and plus/minus (+17). Among his eight goals are three game-winners, three power-play goals and a shorthanded tally. He has registered 65 shots on goal, collected 24 PIM and won 52.7% of the faceoffs he’s taken.
A long-shot, left-shooting forward prospect taken in the sixth round (184th overall) in the 2021 NHL Draft, the young Czech is currently plying his trade in Finland as he works towards his goal of securing an entry-level contract with the Panthers.
Kos spent his draft season, his second in Suomi, playing for Ilves’ U20 club, where produced five goals and 13 assists in 32 games to catch the eye of Zito & Co. He also represented his home country in the U18 World Championship and scored one goal and one assist and racked up 12 PIM in five games as Czechia was bounced in the quarterfinals by eventual gold medal-winner Canada.
This season Kos has played a total of 17 games split between three levels of the Finnish hockey pyramid. In 7 Liiga games with Ilves, he has picked up two helpers. In 6 second-tier games in Mestis with KOOVEE, has has scored one goal. And among his peers on Ilves U20 squad, he has totaled a goal and four assists in four games.
Group A (Edmonton)
Finland (Puutio) vs. Germany 2 p.m.
Czechia (Kos) vs. Canada (Sourdif) 7 p.m.
Group B (Red Deer)
Russia vs. Sweden (Ekmark) 4:30 p.m.
United States (Smilanic (out), Samoskevich) vs. Slovakia 9:30 p.m.
* All games will be broadcast on NHL Network