A Blackhawks Fan's Guide to the World Junior Championship

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A Blackhawks Fan’s Guide to the World Junior Championship

Chicago Blackhawks

The 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship begins formally on Dec. 26 with games that will showcase some of the best talent in the world. There are plenty of reasons for Blackhawks fans to watch the games, including five Blackhawks prospects being involved.

Canada

The Blackhawks have four prospects on Canada’s roster: defensemen Ethan Del Mastro (an assistant captain), Kevin Korchinski and Nolan Allan and forward Colton Dach. This is an exciting showcase for Blackhawks fans to see the team’s last two top picks in NHL drafts (Allan and Korchinski, who are WHL teammates with Seattle now) and two other prospects who showed well in Chicago this past summer. Del Mastro was part of Canada’s gold medal effort in August and is expected to play top-pair minutes; his stock is skyrocketing right now. I really like his game.

Oh, and there are a couple guys Blackhawks fans will also undoubtedly want to watch on the roster here as well: Connor Bedard and Adam Fantilli, the presumed top-two overall picks in the 2023 NHL Draft.

  • Dec. 26 — vs Czechia
  • Dec. 28 — vs Germany
  • Dec. 29 — vs Austria
  • Dec. 31 — vs Sweden

Sweden

Center Victor Stjernborg, who the Blackhawks drafted in the fourth round (No. 108 overall) in the 2021 NHL Draft, has been named their captain. Because he plays in Sweden right now, we don’t get to see much of his game so this is a great chance to see him against top competition at his age level. It’s impressive that he’s been named the captain of a top team as well.

Another forward worth watching on Sweden’s roster is Leo Carlsson, who is now in the top-four conversation for the 2023 NHL Draft. With so many outstanding questions surrounding Matvei Michkov because of his contract and the politics between North America and Russia right now, Carlsson has emerged as a legit candidate to be in the top three picks. And the gap between the top four and the rest of a really good draft class is significant, to keep an eye on Carlsson while you’re watching Sweden just in case.

  • Dec. 26 — vs Austria
  • Dec. 27 — vs Germany
  • Dec. 29 — vs Czechia
  • Dec. 31 — vs Canada

Others to Watch

As a reminder, the Blackhawks have not only their own pick in the first round this coming year but also have Tampa’s first rounder thanks to the Brandon Hagel trade. The Blackhawks also have two picks in the second round (also Tampa’s, this from the Seabrook-Tyler Johnson deal as a sweetener) and two picks in the third round (Dallas’ third via Arizona which was acquired in a draft swap this past summer). And the Blackhawks will be looking to add picks when the draft doors open.

So keeping an eye on other draft eligible players would be wise because the Blackhawks are going to be busy at the 2023 NHL Draft.

Chris Peters does a terrific job of breaking down prospects and provided 15 names to watch in the coming tournament, starting with Bedard, Fantilli and Carlsson at the top. But there are others on his list that could be noteworthy for Blackhawks fans who are keeping an eye on the potential future.

Three names that intrigue me for the Blackhawks’ later in the first round: Gavin Brindley (who plays with Fantilli and was recruited with Frank Nazar at Michigan), Slovak center Samuel Honzek and Finnish winger Lenni Hameenaho.



Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab