Winnipeg Jets: Jets Players to Follow at World Junior Championship

Anthony CapocciContributor IDecember 26, 2013

LAKE PLACID, NY - AUGUST 07:  Josh Morrissey #7 of Team Canada skates against Team Finland during the 2013 USA Hockey Junior Evaluation Camp at the Lake Placid Olympic Center on August 7, 2013 in Lake Placid, New York.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

It’s that time of the year again. One of the biggest junior tournaments in hockey is just about ready to get underway.

The 2014 World Junior Championship will take place in Malmo, Sweden. The tournament will begin on Thursday, December 26, and will run through January 5 with the conclusion of the gold-medal game.

The United States will look to repeat for gold after defeating Canada in 2013 in the finals. It will be a difficult task this time around, however.

As always, Canada heads into this year’s tournament the favorites, but countries such as Russia and Sweden are expected to give them a run for their money. Canada also possesses some of the brightest future stars of the game such as 2015 projected first-overall pick Connor McDavid.

That’s what this tournament is all about—watching future NHL stars compete with passion for their countries. The Winnipeg Jets will have an opportunity to watch some of their young prospects put it all on the line.

Last year, Jets fans saw their very own prospect blossom before their eyes as Jacob Trouba helped lead the United States to gold in a tournament he dominated. He was also the recipient of the award for the best defenseman in the tournament.

I don’t know if any of them will top Trouba’s performance from last year, but Jets fans will be excited to watch four of their promising young prospects as they compete for their respective countries.

The four Jets prospects competing in the WJC this year are defenseman Josh Morrissey (CAN), forward Nic Petan (CAN), forward Andrew Copp (USA) and defenseman Jan Kostalek (CZE). Morrissey and Petan will play vital roles in Canada’s quest for gold, and they are probably the two prospects that fans will want to keep an eye on the most.

Morrissey, the Jets' top prospect and most recent first-round pick, will have a great chance to display his skills in front of a major audience. His nifty offense and stellar defense makes him the perfect two-way defenseman for Canada.

Petan on the other hand, is considered an undersized center, but that hasn't stopped him from tearing up the OHL this season. He will get the chance to show the world that his small frame won’t hold him back from being a dominant center.

The tournament kicks off on Thursday with an opening matchup between Canada and Germany. Look for Petan and Morrissey to make an impact early and often.

Copp is an interesting pick for the United States. He’s a mid-tier prospect playing in the NCAA for the University of Michigan. It’ll be interesting to see how he competes against the best junior players in the world. Does he have what it takes to surprise the world?

As for Kostalek, he’s the most intriguing of the four. The defenseman has developed tremendously in the QMJHL this season. He’s not a great offensive defenseman, but his shutdown skills make him very valuable to the Czech.

There’s no better time for these four prospects to make a name for themselves. You can bet that these kids are going to lay it all on the line starting Thursday.