As the medal round gets underway at the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship, here’s a look at some of the players on the eight quarter-final teams in Lappeenranta and Imatra, Finland, who could be on the ice when the puck drops this December at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.
REMINDER: Canada’s semifinal can be seen live on TSN on Saturday, beginning at noon ET/9 a.m. PT.
From the four teams that will play in Saturday’s semifinals:
HAYDN FLEURY: Strong and steady on his skates, Fleury is a smooth skater who always has his head up and can make plays with his solid passing skills. The 6-foot-2, 207-pound defenceman loves to intimidate by throwing around his big body.
BRENDAN PERLINI: Perlini is a big bodied (6-foot-2, 205 pounds) left winger who has tremendous skating ability, and stands out in all three zones. Although he loves to have the puck on his stick, his quick release is lethal and makes him a constant threat in the offensive zone.
DAVID PASTRNAK: The Czech forward has been blessed with remarkably quick hands. He is an elusive player who uses his quick feet and shiftiness to evade bigger opponents. His shot is heavy, precise and ends up in the opposition net more often than not.
JAKUB VRANA: Mostly known for his great vision, solid passing and creativeness with the puck, Vrana makes his teammates better in all situations. Having played for the Czech Republic’s U16, U17, U18 and U20 teams, Vrana has all kinds of experience, which explains his poise in pressure situations.
ADRIAN KEMPE: The Swedish forward is known for his blazing speed and he knows how to use it to his advantage, often burning defenders from the outside. Kempe is a gritty player who likes to get his nose dirty, driving the net hard, getting in the grey areas and being tenacious on the forecheck.
WILLIAM NYLANDER: The son of former NHLer Michael Nylander is one the most highly-touted prospects for this June’s NHL Entry Draft. With hands as quick as his feet, he is an offensive threat. He loves to play a possession game and is known for his high-speed puck control and elite passing skills.
SONNY MILANO: Although he has tremendously soft hands, it is Milano’s speed that has attracted him the most attention. He is a quick and shifty skater who has a great first stride, and is a dominant finisher around the net. His high hockey IQ seems to send him to the right spot, at the right time.
DYLAN LARKIN: Considered as a great leader amongst his peers, Larkin is the type of player who likes to lead by example. Although gifted with a fantastic shot and good hands, it is the high-tempo and intensity he brings to the game that has helped contribute to his offensive success.
From the four teams that lost out in Thursday’s quarter-finals:
KASPERI KAPANEN: The son of former NHLer Sami Kapanen, the 17-year-old is the No. 1 European prospect, according to NHL Central Scouting. With a rare combination of skill and vision, Kapanen is the type of player who’s above average skills make every player around him better.
VLADISLAV KAMENEV: Kamenev played 15 games in the KHL this season, and has quickly learned how to use his big body (6-foot-2, 207 pounds) to his advantage. The highest-ranked Russian skater for this June’s NHL draft is excellent in battles along the boards and can protect his puck better than the average player.
JURAJ MILY: The 5-foot-8, 155-pound forward is a quick skater with shifty moves and a great knack for scoring goals. He has been dominating Slovakia’s under-18 league for three seasons, and has played for his country’s under-20 program as a 16-year-old.
SWITZERLANDKEVIN FIALA: The Swiss forward is a true goal-scorer. His explosive acceleration and top-level skill set makes him a shifty player that is extremely hard to contain. Fiala is an intense and determined player who not only loves to make a difference on every shift, but wants to.