The Canadians and Americans aren’t alone in bringing high-level talent to British Columbia for the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship, set to begin on Dec. 26.
Here is a look at prolific playmakers from legit medal contenders Sweden, Finland, Russia and everyone’s favorite wild card, the Czech Republic. Be sure to check out our Team USA and Team Canada team previews, as well.
The reigning silver medalists are set to showcase arguably the most impressive defensive corps in the entire tournament. Even with Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Timothy Liljegren likely sidelined with a high ankle sprain, and Rasmus Dahlin absolutely not leaving the Buffalo Sabres, the Swedes boast four first-round draft selections on their blue line. But a lack of flash and experience up front is a concern. Only New Jersey Devils prospect Fabian Zetterlund and Isac Lundestrom of the Anaheim Ducks are back for another tour. Despite Sweden’s elite talent on D, a return to the gold-medal game appears a tougher ask this year.
Preliminary round game to watch: vs. United States, Dec. 29, 10 p.m. ET
Isac Lundestrom, C/RW, San Diego Gulls (Anaheim Ducks): Selected 23rd overall by the Ducks in 2018, Lundestrom bolted Sweden this season to further his pro development in North America. After starting the teen off in Anaheim, the NHL club reassigned him to San Diego in mid-November. Recognized for his strong skating and top-end hockey smarts, he has six assists in 12 contests for the Gulls. Now permitted to join his compatriots by the Ducks, Lundestrom brings a much-welcomed spark up front.