Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Players You Won't Be Seeing At The World Juniors

Just like last year, 1 out of 3 ain't bad.
There will be a few players at the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championships with some NHL experience that you'll want to keep an eye on. Most notably, Brett Connolly and Devante Smith-Pelly who were loaned by their NHL clubs to join Team Canada. There are a few other players that got a taste of the NHL before being sent back to junior or their club team such as Mark Scheifele and Mika Zibanejad who will be representing their countries this holiday season as well. But as usual, it who's not at the tournament that receives the most talk from hockey fans. There are always standout under-20 players in the NHL who are just too valuable to their teams to be released for 3 weeks of play. Last year there were some notables staying in the big league, and surprisingly, some still remain on that list.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Edmonton Oilers
At age 18 he's leading the Edmonton Oilers in scoring with 13 goals and 21 assists. His 34 points put him 5 points of the NHL scoring lead. His numbers are just crazy to look at given his age and Canada will no doubt be missing him this tournament, but the Oilers would probably miss him more if he left.

Sean Couturier - Philadelphia Flyers
While averaging almost 13 minutes a game, Couturier is part of the Flyers PK unit and actually leads all rookie forwards in shorthanded TOI. Unfortunately for Couturier, he took a slapper in the head this past Saturday and is day-to-day with a head injury, and these days that usually means concussion.

Gabriel Landeskog - Colorado Avalanche
Has played the most minutes out of all rookie forwards and averages just under 18 minutes a night for the Avalanche. Landy is used on the PK and PP and has put 15 points thus far this season, but more surprisingly is that he has 107 shots. With the Avs on the fringe of a playoff position and Landeskog playing like a seasoned vet, there is just no way he can leave the team.

Adam Larsson - New Jersey Devils
The NHL's rookie leader in TOI, Larsson is a rock on the Devils blueline. Despite a slow start to the season offensively in which he didn't record his 1st NHL point until his 10th game, Larsson has heated up with 10 points in his last 15 games. There is just no way the Devils were letting their top defenceman leave for three weeks when they are in a playoff position. 

Nino Niederreiter - New York Islanders
El Nino has battled injuries all season including a groin injury which kept him out 6 weeks and most recently a concussion that put him out for 5 games. In his 8 games he's averaged 8:19 TOI and despite his lack of icetime, Garth Snow, has said he wouldn't send Niederreiter back to junior (he still could as he's only played 8 games). The Swiss will miss Nino greatly this year.

Jeff Skinner - Carolina Hurricanes
Yes, he is still eligible for this tournament. Skinner picked up this season right where he left off last year's Calder Trophy winning campaign. His 12 goals and 24 points lead the Canes' in scoring, but those totals won't be going up anytime soon as the 19-year-old has suffered a concussion and is out indefinitely. Not good for the hockey world and his adoring fans.

Ryan Johansen - Columbus Blue Jackets
10 points in 28 games is nothing too get excited about, but Johansen is averaging just over 13 minutes a game and gets a lot of PP time with the Jackets. Scott Howsen must really believe the team can turn it around because it's kind of odd to keep a 19-year-old on a last place team. Then again, Howson signed Fedor Tyutin and James Wisniewski to great deals so he must know what he's doing.

Justin Faulk - Carolina Hurricanes
Team USA will miss Faulk as he has become quite the asset for the struggling Hurricanes. His 21:50 TOI a game ranks 2nd among rookies after Larsson, and he works the PK and PP as well. Faulk is playing well with top-four minutes and that confidence alone is more than anything he could gain playing with his peers at the WJC. 

Tyler Seguin - Boston Bruins
Another player you might be surprised is still eligible for the World Juniors. Fresh off winning a Stanley Cup at the age of 19, Seguin leads the defending champs in scoring with 14 goals and 29 points. With numbers like that he's not going anywhere, although many hoped the Bruins would punish him for sleeping in by sending him back to junior. Funny enough, if Seguin did play for Canada, he could join the other Leafs Bruins prospect, Dougie Hamilton, who ended up being part of the Phil Kessel trade.

Erik Gudbranson - Florida Panthers
The hot Panthers probably don't want to tinker too much with their line-up right now as they sit on top of the Southeast Division with a comfortable lead over Winnipeg and Washington (I can't believe I just typed that), so many didn't expect Gudbranson to anchor the Canadian blueline. Averaging almost 12 minutes a game as the 6th D-man, the Panthers most likely want Gudbranson to learn as much as possible from Ed Jovanovski and Brian Campbell as he will be the future on the blueline for the club. 


  1. Not so sure about Canada this year. Russia looks like the team to beat.

    Nuge, Skinner and Seguin would forsure help.

  2. Russia is the team to beat.


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