The Montreal Canadiens set a franchise record with seven players at this year’s World Junior Hockey Championship. Two Canadians (Nick Suzuki and Josh Brook), two Americans (Ryan Poehling and Cayden Primeau), one Russian (Alex Romanov), one Finn (Jesse Ylonen) and one Swede (Jacob Olofsson) are all taking part in the event in British Columbia. Let’s see how they have performed so far.
Team Canada - Nick Suzuki (RW), Josh Brook (RD/LD)
Canada v Denmark, 14-0 win
Josh Brook was one of the 19 players from Canada who earned a point in the tremendous win. He finished the night with a +/- differential of +3 and was the Canadians’ third-most-used defenceman with a TOI of 16:31.
Nick Suzuki also got a primary assist on Morgan Frost’s third goal of the evening to give Canada a 5-0 lead. He had great scoring chances, but couldn’t capitalize in 17:11 of play.
Canada v Switzerland, 3-2 win
Brook didn’t record any points, but saw a lot of ice (19:58) and was used on the penalty kill and saw significant time at even strength. It says a lot about the maturity of the 19-year-old man.
For Suzuki, he served a great hook pass to his good friend, Cody Glass, to open the scoring with only 36 seconds played.
Canada v Czech Republic, 5-1 win
Both earned a point in the win: a secondary assist for Brook and one assist in a third consecutive games for Suzuki. They were aggressive, engaged, and hard to play against in another great game.
Here is Suzuki’s cross-ice power-play pass to set up Morgan Frost, who scores on an open net.
Brook isn’t the flashiest defenceman and you won’t always see his name on the scoresheet, but he shines with his intelligence and patience with and without the puck. The Roblin native always makes the smartest play, and it is what makes him the perfect type of new-school defenceman.
Suzuki has been great and effective during those first two games, with incredible hands, vision, and great nose for the net. So far, everything he has shown is proof he could be as good as he is at another level for a long time.
Team Finland: Jesse Ylönen (RW)
Finland v Sweden, 2-1 loss
Even though he didn’t play a lot (12:31 in 16 shifts), Ylönen still earned an assist on Finland’s only goal of the game, scored by the captain, Aarne Talvitie.
#Habs prospect Jesse Ylonen gets an assist on Finland's 1st goal. Big part of entry and misses glorious chance to score before battling puck free for eventual goal. #WJC2019 pic.twitter.com/t1DOqgyvkq— Scott Petersen (@cvsportsguy) December 28, 2018
Finland v Kazakhstan, 5-0 win
He had two helpers in his team’s first win of the tournament: one on the opening goal by defenceman Otto Latvala, and one on 2019 top European draft prospect Kaapo Kakko’s first goal of the WJC, in 15:59 of play.
Finland v Slovakia, 5-1 win
It was the first game that Ylönen went pointless, but he still played an effective game despite not being used a lot (10 shifts, 9:01). He was on the ice for one of the five goals scored by Finland.
Ylönen is a very versatile and agile player who creates a lot of opportunities for himself and for his teammates. His progression throughout the years will be interesting to follow because if he can work on his shot a bit, he could be a real steal.
Team Sweden: Jacob Olofsson (C/LW)
Sweden v Finland, 2-1 win
Scoreless in the victory, with a few good setups.
Sweden v Czech Republic, 5-2 win
Olofsson was scoreless again, but has an average time on ice of 14:55 per night.
Sweden v USA, 5-4 OT win
Olofsson had some scoring chances during the game, but unfortunately couldn’t capitaliz. It was in overtime that he created a turnover that led to Adam Boqvist’s game-winning goal. He initially had an assist on the play that got removed with three other puck touches before the puck entered the net, but it was still a great sequence from the Swede.
Olofsson is a really talentend two-way centre who played his best game of tournament on Saturday.
Couple closer views of #Habs Jacob Olofsson forcing the turnover that led to Sweden’s game winning OT goal. Largely playing like an 18-year-old, but trusted enough to be out in 3-on-3 OT. pic.twitter.com/llHE2mHE8z— Scott Petersen (@cvsportsguy) December 30, 2018
He plays left wing on the third line, and even though he created some scoring chances he doesn’t look like the same player in that position as he does at centre. He needs to have more confidence in his scoring and playmaking ability.
Team Russia: Alexander Romanov (D)
Russia v Denmark, 4-0 win
Romaov had a tremendous first game; he was everywhere. He finished the night with one goal, two assists, was a+3, and played more than 19 minutes of the game.
Russia v Czech Republic, 2-1 win
Romanov didn’t record any points, but got even more confidence from his coach, playing a total of 22:37.
Russia v Switzlerland, 7-4 win
Romanov recorded a power-play helper on the game-winning goal scored by Washington Capitals prospect Alexander Alexeyev to give Russia a third win in a row. He now has four points (1G, 3A) in three games, tied for the most points by a defenceman with Erik Brannstrom and Adam Boqvist (Sweden).
Not only has he produced offensively, but his overall play makes you understand he’s going to be good for a long time.
Even though he had a three-point night in his first game, Romanov isn’t listed as an offensive defenceman, yet he is very effective in all three zones, He has a great shot, good vision, and use his physique perfectly to aid his game. Really impressed from what I saw from him recently. He has been Russia’s most reliable defender.
Team USA: Ryan Poehling (C), Cayden Primeau (G)
USA v Slovakia, 2-1 win
Despite not recording any points, Poehling was the third in ice time among US forwards (18:30) behind linemates Jason Robertson (19:13) and Josh Norris (21:52).
Primeau didn’t see any action as Boston Bruins prospect Kyle Keyser was in net.
USA v Kazakhstan, 8-2 win
Back at centre with NewYork Islanders prospect Oliver Wahlstrom (11th, 2018) and Logan Cockerill (201th, 2017) on his wing, Poehling amassed three points in USA’s second win in a row, including his first goal.
Primeau played and won his first game, allowing two goals on 13 shots (.846 Sv%).
USA v Sweden, 5-4 OT loss
USA got dominated in the first two periods, but Ryan Poehling wasn’t playing a bad game at all. He had a strong 3-on-5 penalty kill, getting key clears and was active with his stick.
A lesson in penalty killing from Ryan Poehling. (5 on 3) pic.twitter.com/jl42Hk7cx2— David St-Louis (@RinksideView) December 30, 2018
Defensively, everything was going his way, but it was during the third period that things started going perfectly for the Canadiens’ first-round pick in 2017.
He assisted on USA’s opening goal, scored by the captain Mikey Anderson, and went on to score three straight goals to tie the game. The US lost in overtime, but Poehling was clearly his team’s best player.
Here’s Ryan Poehling all goals scored tonight. He also add a secondary assist on USA’s opening goal. They loss in OT but what a comeback. #SWEvsUSA #GoHabsGo (there was a mistake in my last tweet, sorry!) pic.twitter.com/VsH8nuPgeg— amelia mcguire (@AMHockey_) December 30, 2018
Kyle Keyser played the game for the US, with Primeau serving as backup.
Ryan Poehling has shown exactly what I expected him to do in this tournament: be a shutdown centre with good offensive upside who’s big and and extremely intelligent. He is a good skater with a quick acceleration and is really strong on puck possession. He does everything well and isn’t outstanding at one particular thing.
For Primeau, it will be intriguing to see his next game, should he get one, since he hasn’t seen a lot of action.
There’s still a lot of time left, but the future has looked good so far for the Canadiens. Who has been the best player? Tell us why below.