The Americans are heavy underdogs at the World Juniors this year, while the Russians boast their usual offensive arsenal. Who are the key players to watch for? Anyone you should try and nab in your fantasy pool? Read on to find out.
Key Americans to watch:
D Cam Fowler (2010 draft eligible). Fowler is a key cog for the Windsor Spitfires. His 40 points place him 4th on the team in scoring, and he is a likely top-five pick for the upcoming 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
D John Carlson (Washington Capitals 2008 1st round pick). Like Alex Pietrangelo on Canada, Carlson's limited NHL experience should help him leaps and bounds at the tournament this year. His fantasy upside is huge, especially considering he is likely to see heavy power play minutes with the Capitals for a long, long time. If you don't own him, chances are you won't be able to after this tournament.
D Jake Gardiner (Anaheim Ducks 2008 1st round pick). Gardiner has gotten off to a rotten start with the University of Wisconsin this season, registering only three points through 18 games. Hopefully this tournament is the kick in the pants he needs to get back on track. Like Fowler and Carlson, his game is all about moving the puck.
F Chris Kreider (New York Rangers 2009 1st round pick). The top two lines for the Americans will have a New York presence. Kreider, Ryan Bourque, and Derek Stephan are all recent Ranger draft picks, and all three should figure in on one of the scoring units for the US. Kreider can absolutely fly, and is a very smart player at both ends of the ice.
F Derek Stephan (New York Rangers 2008 2nd round pick). Unlike many of USA's other offensive players, Stephan is not struggling this season. He has racked up 17 assists and 22 points so far at the University of Wisconsin, and is expected to center the second line for the Americans.
F Danny Kristo (Montreal Canadians 2008 2nd round pick). Kristo's speed and tenacity have earned himself comparisons to current Ranger Ryan Callahan, but many believe he possesses more offensive upside than Callahan. He has a lethal snap shot, and plays with an edge on a consistent basis.
F Ryan Bourque (New York Rangers 2009 3rd round pick). Brother of Chris and son of Ray, Bourque is a speedy winger with some offensive upside. He is undersized but plays big. He is more talented than big brother Chris, and has more offens