The World Juniors – Sweden and Finland.

Jeff Angus

2008-12-10

 Filppula

 

Every December, the best young hockey players in the world gather to take part in one of the most prestigious and exciting hockey tournaments in the world (and my personal favourite) – the World Junior Hockey Championships. Legends are born, just ask “Double Dion” Phaneuf. Unheralded players steal the spotlight, like Swiss goaltender Reto Berra did a few years’ back. Looking back, there have been a lot big names as well as a lot of big busts. For the next few weeks leading up to the tournament, I will report on what has happened to many of the young players who have starred at this tournament over the years. This weeks’ article covers Sweden and Finland.

 


Studs

Peter Forsberg and Markus Naslund – 1993
Forsberg and Naslund both set numerous tournament records in 1993. Forsberg had an astounding 24 helpers to go along with Naslund’s 13 goals. The Swedes laid a thumping on Japan 20-1 and a lot of the dynamic duo’s points came from that game. Both Forsberg and Naslund developed into NHL superstars. Forsberg won multiple cups with Colorado and established himself as one of the most dominant forwards of the 1990’s, while Naslund had several productive seasons in Vancouver, including a 104 point season in 2002-2003. In this case, World Junior domination was an accurate measure for NHL success with these two talented Swedes.

Olli Jokinen – 1998
Jokinen had nine and was named the tournament’s top forward in 1998. He led the Fins to a Gold Medal with a 2-1 defeat over the Russians. Jokinen also helped Finland destroy Kazakhstan 14-1 in a quarterfinal match up. Jokinen has become a very good NHL player, but has yet to see any playoff action, but has amassed nearly 750 regular season games with Florida and Phoenix.

Valtteri Filppula – 2004
Finland took home the Bronze in 2004 for the third straight year. The tournament was essentially a two-horse race with Canada and the United States. Filppula and Sami Lepisto (the top defenseman) led Finland in scoring, and Filppula has developed into another one of Detroit’s European gems. He looks to be on his way to emerging as a very good two-way center.

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Victor Hedman – 2008
It may be premature to put Hedman in considering he has not even been drafted yet, but he is that good. Hedman will be the first overall pick in the draft unless he gets hurt or John Tavares starts scoring three goals per game down the stretch.
 

Dud
Eero Somervuori – 1998

Somervuori skated on a line with Jokinen and matched his nine-point output. He was a seventh round draft pick of Tampa Bay in 1997 and the team had high hopes for him after some solid seasons in Finland. The closest he got to