The first puck of the 2016-17 National Hockey League season dropped Oct. 12 in Ottawa, and it was a pair of IIHF World Junior Championship alumni who stole the show.
Toronto rookie Auston Matthews (United States, 2015-2016) became the first player in the modern era to score four goals in his NHL debut, but Kyle Turris (Canada, 2008) tied the game late and won it in overtime for the Senators, who picked up a 5-4 victory over the Maple Leafs.
That it was two World Juniors alumni is hardly a surprise, considering 383 of the 690 players who were on NHL rosters to begin the season – 55.5% of all players – represented their country at the U20 tournament.
The list of alumni includes 12 of the 13 players who have earned Most Valuable Player honours at the World Juniors (Parise, Bergeron, Malkin, Price, Mason, Tavares, Eberle, Schenn, Kuznetsov, Gibson, Forsberg and Puljujarvi), and 31 who were directorate award winners, from Roberto Luongo (Top Goaltender) in 1999, to Zach Werenski (Top Defenceman) and Puljujarvi (Top Forward) in 2016.
By country, Canada led the way with 135 alumni – at least two on each of the 30 teams. Canada’s most recent gold medal-winning team, from the 2015 World Juniors, is represented by 11 players, including media all-stars Max Domi, Connor McDavid, Josh Morrissey and Sam Reinhart.
The United States was second-best with 88 alumni, followed by Sweden (54), Russia (27), the Czech Republic (24), Finland (24), Switzerland (9), Denmark (6), Germany (6) and Slovakia (6). Four other countries – Austria, Czechoslovakia, Latvia and Norway – had one each.
Among NHL teams, the Chicago Blackhawks paced the league with 18 World Juniors alumni, followed closely by Buffalo, Nashville, the New York Rangers and Toronto, who had 16 apiece.
CLICK HERE for a complete list of World Juniors alumni in the NHL.
The list does not include alumni who started the season on injured reserve – 39 in total, including past Team Canada captains Jaden Schwartz and Scott Laughton – and players whose contracts had not been approved by the NHL by 10 a.m. ET on Oct. 12, most notably gold medallists Johnny Gaudreau and Rasmus Ristolainen
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