• PROSPECT-UPDATE ARCHIVE
There were a few games involving 2018 draft prospects on Monday, but no top performances. So it's time to discuss the upcoming World Junior Championship tournament in Buffalo.
World Junior pre-tournament games have already begun. On Monday, Sweden routed Denmark 13-1 in Rochester, N.Y. Rasmus Dahlin, the projected No. 1 overall pick in June, did not play for Sweden. The three other draft prospects on the team -- Isac Lundestrom, Jacob Olofsson, and David Gustafsson -- did play, however, and Lundestrom scored one of the Swedish goals.
Teams have yet to finalize rosters, and exhibition games help them make cuts. At this point, nearly 30 first-year-eligible draft prospects are in the running for Buffalo. A year ago, only 14 such players made the final rosters. Look for many more pre-tournament games over the remainder of this week, including the host nation Team USA's matchups with Belarus and Sweden.
Despite the overall high volume of 2018 eligibles, Canada did not select any first-year prospects, Team USA has only two, and Russia only three on its preliminary roster. Only one Russian actually plays in Russia -- Vitali Kravtsov, a 6-foot-2 forward and likely first-rounder in June. Kravtsov is the only first-year-eligible in the KHL this season, and he is certainly holding his own. But facing men every day in the KHL hasn't offered him the chance to stand out. The World Junior stage provides that, and Kravtsov's play against his own age group will be telling.
Those interested in Kravtsov's potential can check out video of his three goals below. One of them required an extensive video review to determine if he had kicked a puck into the net.