The 2018 World Junior Hockey Championship got underway yesterday in Buffalo, NY. A few Buffalo Sabres prospects took the ice and played well in their first games of the tournament. Better late than never, I’m going to give you some players to watch throughout the next few weeks. Not only will I highlight the Sabres prospects, but a few 2018 draft eligible players to keep an eye on as well. We’ll include recaps of how those players are doing in our daily tournament recaps as well.
Casey Mittelstadt – 2017 First Round Pick – Team USA #11
Mittelstadt is the main attraction for Sabres fans in this tournament. He had two goals on day one and showed off his high-end skill. He’ll have the microscope on him throughout as Team USA looks to defend it’s gold.
Alex Nylander – 2016 First Round Pick – Team Sweden #19
Like Mittelstadt, Nylander will have the microscope on him as well. The 19-year-old has had a rough start to the season that included an injury that kept him out a few months. The Sabres are hoping this tournament will give him a spark before he heads back to Rochester.
Marcus Davidsson – 2017 Second Round Pick – Team Sweden #10
Davidsson is a fourth line player on this Sweden team. He won’t see a lot of ice time, but it’s a rare glimpse you’ll get of the second-round pick before he heads back to Sweden.
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen – 2017 Second Round Pick – Team Finland #1
Luukkonen was under fire in his first game against Canada. He played ok giving up four goals on 32 shots. He really stood tall in the third period. His size is the first thing that jumps out at you when you see him in the crease.
Vojtech Budik – 2016 Fifth Round Pick – Team Czech Republic #19
Budik will play a lot of minutes on the blue line for the Czech’s. Another chance to get a glimpse of a player you rarely see. He’ll head back to Prince Albert of the WHL after the tournament.
2018 Draft Eligible Players
Rasmus Dahlin – D - Team Sweden #8
The highly skilled defender is heading towards being the uncontested top pick in the upcoming NHL draft. He’s a special talent and a must-watch whenever you get the chance.
Andrei Svechnikov – F - Team Russia #14
The Russian winger is another highly skilled player that will likely going in the top five, if not top three of the 2018 draft. He may not play a lot for the Russians since their head coach favors players who play in the homeland while Svechnikov plays for the Barrie Colts of the OHL.
Quinn Hughes – D – Team USA #6
Hughes is another player who could go in the top five of the draft. He’s on the smaller side at 5’10”, but is a quick and skilled puck-moving defenseman.
Brady Tkachuk – F – Team USA #7
Yet another Tkachuk. He’s the son of Keith Tkachuk and brother of Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk. The big winger will likely hear his name called in the top three or five of the draft next summer.
Filip Zadina – F – Team Czech Republic #18
The Czech winger who plays in the QMJHL for the Halifax Mooseheads is another very skilled forward who will likely go in the top five come June.