2018-2019



Kids these days.
17 2019 . iihf.com. By Andrew Podnieks

The IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship is the final European event at the end of a busy pro season across the continent. It features the top players from various leagues, and many from the NHL, but here in Slovakia we have a mini pre-pro teen invasion thats re-jigging the focus.
 
We have three 2001-born players who are draft eligible for the NHLs June pickings, and several other young guns representing their country, gaining valuable experience, and showing 21st century skills playing many of the best players in the world.
 
Of course, Jack Hughes is at the top of the list. If he is selected by New Jersey first overall, as is widely expected, hell be only the third first overall pick to play in the Worlds before being selected in the top spot. Alexander Ovechkin played at the 2004 Worlds before his draft that summer, and Auston Matthews did the same in 2016.
 
Ramus Dahlin, the first selection last year by Buffalo, played at the 2018 Olympics before being chosen.
 
Its all pretty reminiscent of 2016, when Matthews and Finlands Patrik Laine played at the Worlds with the number one selection on the line.
 
This year its Hughes and Finlands Kaapo Kakko who are duking it out for that first overall position. Hughes in the number one North American prospect according to NHL scouts, and Kakko is the top European, but consensus is that Kakko has closed the gap after scoring five goals in the first two games.
 
Kakko has a chance to make another kind of history. Having already won gold at the U18 and U20, a gold at the WM would make him the youngest to achieve the IIHF triple.
 
With all these balls up in the air, the big winners are the fans, who get to see these sensational 18-year-olds play at a world-class level.
 
Not far behind is German teenager Moritz Seider. He is listed as the 6th-ranked European prospect, and he has had a great tournament so far. He has two goals in four games (one against Great Britain, one against France), but he was injured on a hit from behind in the game against Slovakia and his status remains up in the air today. Nevertheless, he has shown plenty of talent so far and will be a high draft choice in June, no doubt.
 
As well there is Britains Liam Kirk who was chosen 189th overall by Arizona in 2018 and is trying to follow in the footsteps of Brendan Perlini, who made his NHL debut with those same Coyotes in 2016.
 
Kirk, still only 19, played this past season with the Peterborough Petes in the OHL.
 
The tournament boasts two other players born in 2000 Janis Moser of Switzerland (currently sidelined due ti injury but still with the team) and Austrias Benjamin Baumgartner.
 
Moser played at the U18 last year and has improved significantly in the last year playing in the Swiss league, with EHC Biel-Bienne. He is listed as number 101 on the NHLs top European prospects.
 
Baumgartner is not a top prospect, but he just turned 19 and has already played at two U18s for Austria and two U20s (both Division I-A). This is his first top level event, and his first World Championship.