What is this thing?
The 2023 IIHF Men’s Under-20 World Championships brings together the best players from 10 countries (sorry Russia) under the age of 20 for 11 days of hockey fun. Things kick off today with the group stage. There are two groups:
Group A: Canada, Sweden, Czechia, Germany, Austria
Group B: United States, Finland, Switzerland, Slovakia, Latvia
There is a single round robin series in the group with the top four teams in each group advancing. The teams that finish last in each group face each other play each other in the relegation round for the honor of coming back next year to get wiped out by the top countries. Meanwhile the top four play each other in a cross-over single elimination round. So the top qualifier in Group A would face the fourth seed in Group B and so on.
Winners of those games move into the semi-finals. The winners of the semi-finals play each other for the gold medal and national glory while the losing teams in the semi-finals play for the bronze.
How do I watch?
If you’re in the United States, get to know where the NHL network is on your television dial. All of the games are scheduled to be shown. If you’re in Canada, it looks like TSN is your friend.
Who is going to win?
Canada. It’s probably going to be Canada. They’ve won this thing 19 times and two out of the last three. They’re pretty good. It is fun when they don’t win though because it usually generates 100 “Why is hockey dying in Canada?” or “If we’re not the best at hockey, who are we?” articles over the next two weeks.
So the US has no shot?
Not necessarily. That one time the Canadians didn’t win in the last three tournaments - Team USA, baby! DraftKings has Canada as the -145 favorites to win, but the Americans have the second best odds at +300. The roster boasts 7 first round picks led by Logan Cooley, the Arizona Coyotes prospect drafted third overall in 2022. It’s a solid roster, but goaltending could be an issue. If nothing else, they should be fun to watch.
The favorites are no fun, who could throw a wrinkle into things and end up in the medal round?
Finland has been on a heck of an international run and Sweden is always tough which could make things interesting in Group B. My money would be on Czechia to possibly find a way in if the US or Canada falter. They have 17 players on their initial roster that have participated in either abbreviated attempt at a tournament last winter or the one in August. David Jiricek was drafted 6th overall last year by the Columbus Blue Jackets and leads what should be a stout defense.
As a Lightning fan, who should I root for?
Dylan Duke - USA, Klavs Veinbergs - Latvia, and Niko Huuhanten - Finland
To me, Huuhanten is the most intriguing of the prospects and the one I’ll be keeping an eye on in the group rounds.
As a fan of draft speculation who should I watch?
Connor Bedard should be the best non-drafted player at this tournament. He’s in a similar situation as his teammate Shane Wright was in last year. With a strong performance Bedard should lock down the top spot in the draft.
Adam Fantilli (Canada) could be the Juraj Slafkovsky of this year and sneak in to steal that top spot in the draft if Bedard stumbles. Note - it’s not likely because Bedard is having a fantastic season for the Regina Pats and shows no sign of giving up the chance to get drafted first overall by the Chicago Blackhawks.
Leo Carlsson (Sweden) rounds out the top three on most prospectors’ lists. Like Slafkovsky, Carlsson has the size (6’3”) and skill that general managers salivate over.
That’s a nice high-level view of things. Is there anywhere else I can get more info?
Lightning / NHL News
Is Steven Stamkos underrated? [The Hockey News]
Personally, I feel like he is properly rated. Pretty much everyone agrees he’s a first ballot hall of fame player, who is in that second tier of greatness in the league right now.
What your team is thankful for: The Tampa Bay Lightning [Pro Hockey Rumors]
All solid points except for the last one. Brian Elliott is fine as a back-up goaltender. If, as they state in the article, Andrei Vasilevskiy is out for any length of time, it doesn’t matter who the back-up is, the team is going to struggle.
Jon Cooper sees Lightning style baked into Red Wings [Detroit Hockey Now]
Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin said recently that the Red Wings saw plenty of Lightning video in training camp. Not so much anymore because the Red Wings mostly watch their own play.
“That’s always the case,” Cooper said, laughing again. “…he’s not bringing in his Iowa Wild video.”
*No we don’t. We never know who is going to win anything. Please don’t follow our advice. Thank you,