On Tuesday, Hockey Canada and the International Ice Hockey Federation announced the schedule for the 2021 World Junior Championship on TSN. Like the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the tournament will be played in a quarantined bubble in Edmonton without fans in attendance.
The World Juniors tournament will kick off on Christmas rather than its usual starting date on Boxing Day, with the gold medal game taking place on January 5th.
That means, even if the Canucks’ season hasn’t started by the beginning of January, fans will still be able to watch a few Canucks players — or at least prospects in their system. At minimum, the Canucks should have two prospects at the 2021 World Junior hockey tournament and could have a couple more.
Let’s take a look at the four Canucks prospects most likely to play for their respective countries and when you’ll be able to watch them.
Russia – Vasili Podkolzin and Dmitry Zlodeyev
Team Russia will have at least one Canucks prospect and could have two.
Vasili Podkolzin will be Russia’s biggest star at the tournament and carry the team at both ends of the ice. He’s likely to be the captain of the team as well as one of just two players expected to return from last year’s team.
It’s been a bizarre start to the season for Podkolzin, whose ice time has fluctuated wildly in the KHL. In general, KHL teams don’t give teenagers a lot of ice time, even if they deserve it, and that’s especially true for players destined to play in the NHL — why bother developing a player that isn’t going to play for you in the future?
That just means that SKA St. Petersburg is missing the opportunity to take advantage of Podkolzin while he’s still on the roster. He only got real minutes when half his team tested positive for COVID-19 and had to be quarantined.
That won’t be a problem at the World Junior tournament, where Podkolzin will be leaned on heavily. He had just 5 points in 7 games at last year’s tournament despite playing a dominant two-way game and setting up his linemates for all sorts of glorious chances that didn’t result in goals.