The IIHF World Junior Championships take place Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Buffalo, New York and the Chicago Blackhawks have a chance to be well represented at the tournament. Ten Countries will be represented at the tournament including the defending Gold-Medalists the United States, Canada, Russia, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Belarus, and Switzerland.
Preliminary rosters have been announced over the past few days and the Chicago Blackhawks have six prospects that were named to rosters. Henri Jokiharju, Roope Laavainen, Tim Soderlund, Andrei Altybarmakyan, Artur Kayumov, and Jakub Galvas have the opportunity to represent their respective countries come tournament time.
Jokiharju and Laavainen lead a stacked Finnish defensive core looking to get back into medal contention after failing to place last season. Jokiharju, the Blackhawks’ first-round draft pick last summer, has 35 points (7G, 28A) in 27 games with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. Laavainen, Chicago’s fourth-round draft pick last summer, has just one assist in 22 games with HPK of the Finnish Liiga.
— Finnish jr hockey (@FINjrhockey) December 4, 2017
Another fourth-round draft pick from this past summer, Tim Soderlund, is the lone Swedish prospect for the Blackhawks on the preliminary roster. Soderlund has eight points (6G, 2A) in 24 games with Skelleftea in the SHL and was part of Sweden’s World Junior squad last year that placed fourth. Soderlund tallied three points in the tournament last year.
Jakub Galvas is another lone representative player named to a preliminary roster. Galvas, a fifth-round draft pick from this past summer, is the only Blackhawks prospect on the Czech roster and will look to build off of the success of the 2016-17 Hlinka Memorial Gold the Czech’s took home last year. Galvas has eight points (1G, 7A) in 28 games with HC Olomouc of the Czech Professional League.
Finally, the Russian preliminary roster has two Blackhawks prospects named with a pair of forwards in Artur Kayumov and Andrei Altybarmakyan. Kayumov, a second-round pick from the 2016 draft, had injury issues early this season, but has played in 16 games for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL and tallied a goal and an assist.
— Russian Prospects (@RUSProspects) December 4, 2017
Altybarmakyan, a third-round pick by the Blackhawks this last summer and winner of the hardest to pronounce name of all Blackhawks prospects, has 13 games under his belt for SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL with no points recorded and 20 games played with 13 points (7G, 6A) for SKA-Neva St. Petersburg of the VHL, Russia’s second-tier professional league.
The real surprise as far as the Blackhawks prospect system goes, was the omission of defenseman Chad Krys from Team USA’s preliminary roster. Krys, a Sophomore at Boston University and 2016 second-round draft pick, has 14 points (4G, 10A) in 17 games and was part of the 2015-16 Bronze Medal USA team. Along with Alex DeBrincat, Krys was cut from Team USA’s preliminary roster last winter as they went on to win Gold in a shootout over Canada.
Surprised that Chad Krys did not receive a spot on Team USA’s prelim World Juniors roster. Was in final cuts last year, 14 pts in 17 games with Boston U as a Soph this year. Also was part of 2016 World Junior Bronze Medal USA squad. #Blackhawks
— Mario Tirabassi (@Mario_Tirabassi) December 5, 2017
The other “big” omission for the Blackhawks would be the lack of Canadian representation as the only real gripe that could be made would be for defenseman Ian Mitchell. A second-round draft pick from this past summer, has played in 14 games for the University of Denver with 11 points, all assists. Mitchell is a highly-touted NCAA prospect who jumped into a top-tier program and became one of their go to players right away. Unfortunately for Mitchell and Blackhawks fans, the Canadian roster is just too deep.
The Blackhawks should hope that one of Sweden, Finland, Russia, or the Czech Republic make it to the Gold Medal game as Chicago was unrepresented in the Gold Medal game last year between Canada and the United States. The last Blackhawks prospect to win a World Junior Gold Medal was Joni Tuulola with Finland in 2016.
The IIHF World Junior Championships start December 26 when Canada takes on Finland.