The first puck of the 2018-19 National Hockey League season dropped
Wednesday with four games, and from the East Coast to the West Coast it was
IIHF World Junior Championship alumni leading the way.
-- Auston Matthews (United States, 2015-2016) scored twice, including the
overtime winner, and John Tavares (Canada, 2008-2009) added his first
in a Maple Leafs sweater to send Toronto past Montreal 3-2.
-- T.J. Oshie (United States, 2006) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (Russia,
2010-2011-2012) scored within the first two minutes to help Washington
start defence of its Stanley Cup championship with a convincing 7-0 win
-- Jacob Markstrom (Sweden, 2009-2010) made 33 saves, Elias Pettersson
(Sweden, 2017-2018) recorded a goal and an assist in his NHL debut and
Vancouver downed Calgary 5-2.
-- Max Comtois (Canada, 2018) needed just 49 seconds to score his first
NHL goal, Rickard Rakell (Sweden, 2011-2012-2013) had a goal and two
assists and Jakob Silfverberg (Sweden, 2010) added three helpers to
help Anaheim pull away for a 5-2 win over San Jose.
That it was two World Juniors alumni stepping into the spotlight is hardly
a surprise, considering 411 of the 713 players who were on NHL rosters to
begin the season – 57.6% of all players – represented their country at the
The list of alumni includes 13 of the 15 players who have earned Most
Valuable Player honours at the World Juniors (Parise, Bergeron, Malkin,
Price, Tavares, Eberle, B. Schenn, Kuznetsov, Gibson, Forsberg, Puljujarvi,
Chabot and Mittelstadt), and 32 who were directorate award winners, from
Roberto Luongo (Top Goaltender) in 1999, to Rasmus Dahlin (Top Defenceman)
and Mittelstadt (Top Forward) in 2018.
By country, Canada led the way with 134 alumni – at least two on each of
the 31 teams. Just eight months after winning gold in Buffalo, eight
members of Canada’s 2018 National Junior Team made the jump to the NHL
(Comtois, Dubé, Formenton, Howden, Kyrou, Mete, Steel, Thomas).
The United States was second-best with 93 alumni, followed by Sweden (59),
Finland (34), Russia (31), the Czech Republic (24), Switzerland (11),
Denmark (6), Germany (6), Slovakia (5), Austria (3) and Norway (2). Three
other countries – France, Latvia and Slovenia – had one each.
Among NHL teams, the Columbus Blue Jackets paced the league with 17 World
Juniors alumni, followed closely by Philadelphia, Toronto and Washington,
who had 16 apiece.
The list does not include alumni who started the season on injured reserve
– 52 in total, including past Team Canada standouts Ryan Murray (Columbus),
Corey Perry (Anaheim), Kris Russell (Edmonton) and Shea Weber (Montreal).