It’s that time of the year. The 2019 World Junior tournament will get kicked off today in Vancouver, Canada. The Buffalo Sabres will have four prospects that will participate in the tournament this season.
Last year in Buffalo, a few Sabres prospects showcased their skills, including Casey Mittelstadt with a tournament MVP performance for Team USA.
One of the players competing this year, also participated last year in 2017 second-round pick Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. The 19-year-old will be between the pipes for what looks like a strong Finland team on paper. He started off with a very strong performance against Canada in a pre-tournament 5-2 victory on Sunday.
Luukkonen will be joined on Finland by 2017 third-round pick, Oskari Laaksonen. The puck-moving defender will play a prominent role on Finnish blue line, which may be the best in the tournament. They’ll also feature Boston Bruins prospect Urho Vaakanainen and Chicago Blackhawks prospect Henri Jokiharju. Both of them saw time in the NHL this season.
The Finns will feature a few more well known prospects in Eeli Tolvanen from the Nashville Predators, Jesse Ylonen of the Montreal Canadiens, and Kaapo Kakko who is arguably the second best prospect in the upcoming NHL Draft.
The third Sabres prospect will play on the blue line for Team USA in 2018 second-round pick, Mattias Samuelsson. The big defender is having a nice freshman season at Western Michigan with three goals and eight points in 15 games.
He’ll look to carry that over into the World Junior tournament with a few other big names players on the American squad. Players such as Quinn Hughes of the Vancouver Canucks, Oliver Wahlstrom of the New York Islanders, Ryan Poehling of the Montreal Canadiens, and 2019 top rated draft eligible prospect Jack Hughes.
The final Sabres prospect you’ll be able to get a look at on the Czech Republic roster is the fiery forward Matej Pekar. The 2018 fourth-round pick is having a great season in the OHL playing for the Barrie Colts.
That propelled him onto the Czech roster that will also feature a 2018 fifth overall pick from the Detroit Red Wings, Filip Zadina.
The tournament kicks off this morning with the Czech Republic and Switzerland. You can see the full schedule here.