The 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship concluded Jan. 5 in Malmo, Sweden, with Finland winning the gold, Sweden winning the silver and Russia winning the bronze. Canada finished fourth and the USA settled for fifth.
Washington Capitals fans who watched the WJC received a nice holiday gift as several Caps prospects participated in the tournament and performed admirably.
Here are the grades for each Washington Capitals prospect at the 2014 World Juniors with the prospects listed in alphabetical order by last name, along with their position and national team.
Note: All statistics updated through Jan. 5 courtesy of IIHF.com unless noted otherwise.
Riley Barber's play at the 2014 WJC was simply a continuation of his stellar 2013-14 season.
On Oct. 7, the Miami Redhawk was listed as a possible Hobey Baker candidate by Adam Kimelman of NHL.com. Since the college hockey season began, he has pushed himself even deeper into the conversation, as he is currently sixth in the NCAA in points, according to CollegeHockeyNews.com.
At the WJC, Barber led Team USA in goals, scoring once in each of the four preliminary-round games. He was named USA's best player of the game in its final preliminary-round game against Team Canada. Unfortunately for Barber and the Americans, he did not score in USA's 5-3 loss to Russia in the quarterfinal round.
Before the WJC began, Andre Burakovsky drew the ire of the Canadian media with comments he made to Swedish media outlet Skanskan.se (via The Toronto Sun) in which he expressed confidence in his Swedish teammates:
I know what Canada brings and if I look at what they have and what we have … I think I can say that we have a better team on paper. Then we'll see how they play and how it goes for us.
In response to his comments, an anonymous article published by The Toronto Sun described Burakovsky as "a cocky prospect" and was quick to point out that Burakovsky said "at goalkeeper … we are much better” while also proclaiming "Canada has no 'skill player.'"
Canadian sensitivities notwithstanding, this son of a former NHL player should not be criticized for feeling confident in his team or for his willingness to share those feelings publicly.
First of all, Burakovsky was merely echoing the sentiments of Ryan Lambert of Yahoo! Sports, who called Sweden "a deep and menacing team, with quality at every position," further describing them as a "juggernaut."
Secondly, Lambert pointed out that Burakovsky was simply making a prediction "much like Seth Jones did last year in correctly proclaiming the U.S. the best team in the tournament a week before it started."
Burakovsky should be criticized for inconsistent play, however. All three of his goals were scored in the same game, during the preliminary round, no less. He was consequently named as the best player of the game for his hat trick against Norway. Furthermore, Burakovsky did not register any points past the quarterfinal round, when he registered two helpers in a 6-0 rout of Slovakia.
The soon-to-be 19-year-old winger finished 16th in the tournament in goals, 19th in assists and 13th in points. As for his assessment of Teams Sweden and Canada, Burakovsky was spot on. Sweden played for the gold medal and Canada played for the bronze, with both teams settling for a consolation prize.
If Burakovsky had contributed to the Swedish effort during the most important game of the tournament, the host nation would have won gold and not just silver.
Connor Carrick impressed in his time with the Capitals earlier this season, however brief it may have been. The Illinois native scored a goal in three games, with a minus-two rating and six penalty minutes, according to NHL.com.
Carrick impressed in his time at the 2014 WJC as well, which also turned out to be brief. Not only did Carrick lead Team USA in plus/minus rating for the tournament, he also ranked fourth among all skaters in plus/minus.
HockeysFuture.com describes Thomas DiPauli as "an energy player with a high motor who is fearless going into the corners. He is good on faceoffs and, while not highly skilled, he should be able to help generate some offense via his hard work."
DiPauli did not get to demonstrate his skill at the faceoff dot, as four other Americans finished among the tournament's faceoff leaders. However, he did generate offense, finishing fifth on Team USA in assists.
Like many of his teammates, DiPauli's tournament was marred by his performance in USA's 5-3 quarterfinal loss to Russia.
Fedor Fedin of RussianMachineNeverBreaks.com wrote that "by late in the [third] period, it looked as though the Americans ran out of gas, taking ill-advised penalties (one by Caps prospect Tommy DiPauli) and giving Russia two five-on-three chances, resulting in two goals on two bombs by Sabres’ defensive prospect Nikita Zadorov."
For those Caps fans still unfamiliar with Christian Djoos, here is a description of the defenseman, according to HockeysFuture.com:
He plays a two-way game which relies on all-around competency in each zone. His biggest strength is his skating, which he uses to jump into the rush from time to time. However he also likes to sit back and play the responsible game. His defense could use a little more seasoning, as could almost every other aspect of his game. While not impressive in any one manner he isn’t bad in any either.
Djoos demonstrated his all-around talent at the 2014 WJC, as one of seven Swedish defenders who suited up for all five games for the Tre Kronor. Among Swedish blueliners, Djoos finished first in goals, fourth in assists, second in points and fourth in plus/minus rating. He was the only member of that group to score even one power-play goal, and he tallied twice with the man advantage.
Djoos stuffed the stat sheet in the gold-medal game against archrival Finland. The 19-year-old contributed to both Swedish goals, assisting on the first goal and then knotting the score at 2-2 with his second power-play goal of the tournament, eventually forcing overtime. He also compiled two penalty minutes, three shots on goal and a minus-one rating, as he was on the ice for Finland's even-strength goal 0:28 into the contest.
Djoos was not named Sweden's best player of the game for the gold-medal game, but he would have been a deserving recipient of the honor.