With December underway, it is officially U-20 World Junior Championship season and teams have begun to announce their preliminary camp rosters for the tournament beginning later this month. When Sweden made its reveal on Wednesday, the roster was incomplete, as the team was hoping to add some other players to the list once they were granted permission to compete by their NHL clubs. Among those players the Swedes are hopeful to bring in is Winnipeg Jets forward David Gustafsson. Gustafsson, 19, played on the highly-hyped Swedish entry last year that faltered in the quarterfinal round of the tournament and the team would like to bring him back for another try. However, the 2018 second-round pick has surprisingly emerged as a regular in his rookie season with Winnipeg, already skating in 22 games. That’s not to say that Gustaffson is excelling in the NHL – he has just one point to date – but he is a piece that the Jets have relied upon. For that reason, The Athletic’s Murat Ates relays from head coach Paul Maurice that the team will put their own needs this season ahead of Gustafsson’s individual developmental needs when it comes to deciding whether or not to loan him to Team Sweden. If the Jets feel that they would be short-handed by losing the rookie for several weeks over the course of the WJC, the team will likely opt to keep him, despite his lack of production. However, Ates does not believe that this will be the case. Citing the recent waiver claim of Nick Shore and the improving health of several sidelined forwards, Ates feels that Winnipeg will wind up sending Gustafsson to the WJC, where they hope he can re-discover his scoring touch against more equal competition. After the tournament, the Jets could bring him back, but Ates would also not be surprised if he finishes the year out in Sweden, for the same developmental reasons. The decision will be made, one way or another, in short time.
- Switzerland has announced their preliminary roster for the upcoming World Junior tournament, which includes a number of NHL prospects. The Swiss made a surprise run to the semifinals last year with a young, unheralded roster. This year, they will bring much of that core group back in hopes of taking another step forward. Goaltenders Akira Schmid (NJD) and Luca Hollenstein will be back, as will top defensemen Nico Gross (NYR) and Tim Berni (CLB) and talented forward Valentin Nussbaumer (ARI). However, youth could be the x-factor again for the Swiss in the form of two highly-regarded draft prospects. Forward Simon Knak of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks is expected to be a mid-round pick in 2020 and could play a key scoring role at the WJC. Potentially even more exciting is the inclusion of 17-year-old defenseman Giancarlo Chanton of the OHL’s Niagara Ice Dogs, already being talked about as a first-round pick in 2021. The Swiss will again be an intriguing dark horse in this year’s tournament.
- With Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, and Canada having already announced their preliminary rosters, attention now turns to the Americans. Team USA suffered a heart-breaking loss in the final last year to a Finland team that they had beaten earlier in the tournament and are out to get what narrowly eluded them this year. Following a historic 2019 draft class, this year’s entry could be an embarrassment of riches for the U.S. and the team is certainly making the most of their official roster announcement. USA Hockey will reveal their WJC squad on the NHL Network in a 4:00pm ET segement on Monday featuring head coach Scott Sandelin. The excitement will likely only continue to build after that until the puck drops on this year’s tournament.