World Junior Hockey Championship: Highlights of the 20 Best Prospects

Matthew FairburnCorrespondent IJanuary 10, 2012

World Junior Hockey Championship: Highlights of the 20 Best Prospects

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    The World Junior Championship always puts on a show. Featuring some of the world's most talented prospects, the 2012 version of the tournament did not disappoint.

    With the stacked Canadian and American rosters, many were surprised to find neither skating in the gold medal game, where Sweden out-dueled Russia for an overtime victory.

    Some of the the best and brightest young stars showcased their abilities over the past two weeks. Let's take a look at some of the highlights of the best prospects.

Sebastian Collberg

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    Sebastian Collberg thrives on speed. The Swedish winger has an excellent shot that he is not afraid to let go from all over the ice. 

    His seven-point effort in the 2012 WJC will do wonders for his draft stock leading up to June's selection party.

Mikhail Grigorenko

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    In any other draft, Mihail Grigorenko might be the first overall pick. Unfortunately for the Russian star, his fellow countryman, Nail Yakupov, will likely have that honor.

    That’s no slight on Grigorenko, though. He already has 50 points in 32 games this season in the QMJHL.

    At 6'2", Grigorenko has the size to match his incredible offensive ability. Scouts are looking for more consistency this season, and so far, so good.

Joel Armia

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    Joel Armia can be hit-or-miss offensively, but he hit a homer when it counted for Finland against the United States.

    Armia has loads of speed and an impressive repertoire of offensive skills.  

Ryan Murphy

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    Ryan Murphy was not particularly sharp during the 2012 WJC, but he did nothing to change the high opinions many have of him as a prospect.

    Murphy just needs more time to mature and strengthen his play in the defensive zone.

Brandon Gormley

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    Brandon Gormley continued to prove why he is so dangerous from the point on the power play.

    His skating, vision and quick release make him a rising defensive star in Phoenix's system.

Brett Connolly

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    The fact that Brett Connolly was not the best player on his team speaks volumes to depth on Team Canada.

    Connolly is absolutely electric with the puck on his stick.

Sven Baertschi

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    Sven Baertschi didn't get the face time he deserves during the 2012 WJC, so I'll give him some love here.

    He is definitely the top prospect in the Flames' system and one of the few young pieces they have to build around.

Charlie Coyle

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    Charlie Coyle is enjoying another productive season at Boston University, and he was able to parlay that into a solid start to the 2012 WJC with a hat trick against Denmark.

    While Coyle continued to produce throughout the tournament, the lack of team success kept him from being one of the stars of the WJC.

Jacob Trouba

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    Jacob Trouba had his coming-out party in the 2012 WJC. He was every bit the lockdown defender he is hyped up to be.

    The youngest skater for the Americans, Trouba played like a seasoned veteran at times and secured himself a spot in the top five of the 2012 NHL Draft.

Jack Campbell

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    Jack Campbell didn't get much of a chance to make the highlight reel.

    The United States failed to qualify for the medal round, but that doesn't change the fact that Campbell is one of the top goaltending prospects in the world.

Petr Mrazek

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    The Detroit Red Wings got another steal.

    In the fifth round of the 2010 NHL Draft, the Wings shrewdly selected Petr Mrazek, a little-known goaltender from the Czech Republic.

    After the 2012 World Junior Championships, Mrazek is on everyone's radar.

Mark Schiefele

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    Mark Schiefele has sharp instincts in the offensive zone. It's part of what caused him to sneak into the top 10 in last year's draft.

    He'll play a bigger role on the Canadian junior team in years to come, provided he doesn't make the jump to the NHL.

Nail Yakupov

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    Nail Yakupov is the runaway favorite to be selected first overall in the 2012 NHL entry draft. The Russian-born winger has been terrorizing the OHL since entering the league last season.

    He scored 101 points as a rookie for the Sarnia Sting and has averaged two points per game thus far this season. Yakupov is a special player with insane offensive skills.

    Speed, vision and shooting are among his many outstanding attributes. 

Evgeni Kuznetsov

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    Few players were more exciting to watch during the 2012 WJC than Evgeni Kuznetsov. He netted a hat trick against the vaunted Canadian defense.

    The Russian also had an insane nine points against the Latvians. Kuznetsov will fit in nicely alongside Alex Ovechkin in a few years.

Jaden Schwartz

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    There's a lot to like about the way Jaden Schwartz plays hockey. He brings it on every shift, and always seems to be scrapping until the very last whistle.

    Combine that competitive level with incredible offensive skills, and it appears the St. Louis Blues have a dandy on their hands.

Dougie Hamilton

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    Dougie Hamilton has been one of the top point scorers in the CHL this season after being drafted in the top 10 a year ago by the Boston Bruins.

    Hamilton continued to find the back of the net in the World Junior Championship, especially during the big moments.

Mika Zibanejad

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    Mika Zibinejad was one of the hottest risers heading up to the 2011 NHL Draft, and he just keeps it rolling this season.

    This goal will forever be a shining moment in the young Swede's career.

Mikael Granlund

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    The Minnesota Wild are champing at the bit for Mikael Granlund to make the jump to the NHL. He is loaded with offensive ability and has tremendous leadership qualities.

Ryan Strome

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    Ryan Strome just can't stop making highlight-reel plays. He still has plenty of room to develop, but the fifth overall pick in the 2011 Draft will be scoring goals like this in the big leagues before long.

Jonathan Huberdeau

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    Jonathan Huberdeau established himself as the best player in the tournament, game after game.

    His creativity and ability in the offensive zone is unmatched. I can't wait to see this kid in the NHL.