World Junior Championship

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Which NHLers could be heading to the World Juniors?

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The World Junior Hockey Championship is just a few weeks away, which is great news. Although most countries have named their preliminary rosters for the upcoming tournament, there’s still a chance that NHLers could be added in the next little while.

NHL teams have the option to loan out their junior-eligible players to their respective countries for the two-week tournament that runs from Dec. 26, 2017 to Jan. 5, 2018 in Buffalo, New York.

Reminder: Teams have until Dec. 19 to decide if they’re going to loan their players to their respective countries.

So, who’s in and who’s out?

TEAM CANADA

Jakob Chychrun-D-Arizona Coyotes

Chychrun made his 2017-18 regular season debut on Sunday, after he missed the start of the season because of a knee injury. He played 22:40 and scored a goal against the Golden Knights in his first game of 2017-18. Chychrun heading to the World Juniors is probably unlikely, but it simply can’t be ruled out because of the amount of time he missed due to injury.

Pierre-Luc Dubois-C-Columbus Blue Jackets

The Jackets rookie has a modest 11 points in 28 games, but six of those have come in the last five games. Dubois wasn’t getting much ice time early on in the season. That seems to be changing, as it appears as though he’s earned head coach John Tortorella’s trust. He’s played over 18 minutes in five of his last seven contests. Dubois is starting to become a big part of the team. It would be mildly surprising to see him be loaned out for the tournament.

Samuel Girard-D-Colorado Avalanche

At the start of the season, you probably would’ve thought that Girard would be playing in the tournament, but things have changed. Since being traded from Nashville to Colorado, he’s played a huge role with his new team. He’s played under 20 minutes in each of his last five outings, but he’s still averaging 19:22 of ice time per game.

Tyson Jost-F-Colorado Avalanche

Jost missed a significant amount of time because of a lower-body injury, but he’s back in the lineup right now. The 19-year-old has no points in five games since returning and he’s up to just one goal and one assist in 11 contests this season. Colorado is four points out of a playoff spot, which isn’t significant, but they’re probably a year or two away from being a serious contender anyway. Jost won a silver medal with Team Canada last year. He had a goal and four points in 7 seven games during the tournament. Don’t be surprised if he represents his country again.

Victor Mete-D-Montreal Canadiens

Mete had a terrific training camp with the Canadiens, but he’s come down to earth a little bit. The 19-year-old has been made a healthy scratch a couple of times this season and with Jakub Jerabek and David Schlemko now on the roster, Montreal could opt to send their young blue liner to the tournament. Mete was part of Team Canada’s Summer Showcase roster last summer.

Nolan Patrick-F-Philadelphia Flyers

The second overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft has had a tough introduction to pro hockey. Not only has he missed nine games because of an upper-body injury, he also hasn’t really played much when he has been in the Flyers lineup. Patrick has two goals and four assists, while averaging just over 12 minutes of ice time in 19 games. The 19-year-old missed last year’s tournament because of an injury. Playing heavy minutes with players his own age could prove to be a valuable experience for the rookie.

TEAM FINLAND

Patrik Laine-F-Winnipeg Jets

This is probably the biggest no-brainer on the list. There’s absolutely no chance that Laine is going to Buffalo to represent his country. We’ll just leave it at that.

Jesse Puljujarvi-F-Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers didn’t loan Puljujarvi to Team Finland last year when he playing in the minors, so it’s unlikely that they’d let him take off now that he’s contributing on the NHL roster. He owned the tournament last time he played in it in 2016, as he had an incredible 17 points in seven games.

TEAM RUSSIA

Mikhail Sergachev-D-Tampa Bay Lighting

Sergachev had a disappointing tournament last year, but he’s been way too good with the Bolts to head back there. The 19-year-old has averaged 14:32 of ice time, which isn’t significant, but he’s been productive in limited minutes. Sergachev has six goals and 19 points in 28 games. That puts him on pace to score 18 goals and almost 60 points.

TEAM SWEDEN

Jesper Bratt-F-New Jersey Devils

In the first third of the 2017-18 season, there probably hasn’t been a bigger surprise than Bratt. The 19-year-old was the Devils’ sixth-round pick in 2016, and no one expected him to produce like this. The rookie now has nine goals and 19 points in 27 games. Would they ever consider sending him to Buffalo for the tournament? No way.

TEAM SWITZERLAND

Nico Hischier-F-New Jersey Devils

The top pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft is having a strong rookie season. He’s picked up five goals and 20 points in 27 games, which puts him on pace to hit the 60-point mark in his first year. The Devils, who have shocked the hockey world by being in top spot in their division, need Hischier too much to allow him to leave for two weeks. He’s not going anywhere.

TEAM USA

Clayton Keller-F-Arizona Coyotes

Even though he’s slowed down over the last month, there’s no way the ‘Yotes will be sending Keller to the world juniors. The 19-year-old is an important part of his team and he doesn’t have anything left to prove in the junior ranks.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Sabres’ prospect Sam Reinhart scores twice in Canada’s win over Finland

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Sam Reinhart scored twice and Max Domi added a pair of assists as Canada defeated Finland 4-1 at the world junior championship Monday night.

Reinhart, Buffalo’s 2014 first round pick, scored the eventual game winner at 13:34 of the second period giving the Canadians a 2-0 lead.

The 19-year-old opened the scoring at 5:32 of the first period putting home his own rebound.

Finnish captain, and Montreal Canadiens prospect, Artturi Lehkonen had the lone goal for Finland.

Zach Fucale, Montreal’s second round pick from the 2013 draft, made 27 saves for the win.

Per TSN’s Mark Masters, Fucale along with teammate Eric Comrie, a Jets’ prospect, combined for a shutout streak of 158 minutes and 26 seconds passing Jake Allen and Martin Jones’ mark set during the 2010 tournament.

Nashville Predators’ 2013 fourth rounder Juuse Saros made 32 saves in the loss.

Canadian captain, and Ottawa Senators prospect, Curtis Lazar along with Rangers’ prospect Anthony Duclair had Canada’s other goals.

Canada will look to remain perfect and lockup top spot in Group A when they face the U.S. on Dec. 31st while Finland (0-2-1), who won gold at last year’s tournament, will look for its’ first win when they play Germany on Wednesday.

Forsling, Nylander lead Sweden past Russia

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Gustav Forsling scored twice and William Nylander setup a pair of goals, including the game winner, as Sweden edged Russia 3-2 Monday night at the world junior championship.

Detroit Red Wings’ 2014 seventh round pick Axel Holmstrom netted the eventual game winner at 10:53 of the third period, one timing an Oskar Lindblom feed for his first of the tournament.

Monday’s matchup between the Russians and Swedes featured two 2014 New York Islanders draft picks in goal.

Fourth-round selection Linus Soderstrom made 27 saves for the win while third-round pick Ilya Sorokin stopped 23 shots in the loss.

Vyacheslav Leschenko scored both goals for Russia.

The win improves Sweden to 3-0-0 at the tournament and keeps them atop Group B while the loss dropped Russia to 1-1-1.

Despite the early tournament success, Nylander, the Toronto Maple Leafs 2014 first round pick, believes Sweden has room to improve.

“I think we’ve got a little ways to go,” said Nylander, who now has two goals and two assists in three games. “We’re still not at our top level yet. We’ll get there as the playoff round starts.

“I think as a team we played a lot better in the first. We want to try to get our game to be as consistent as we played in the first. I think we gave them some more chances there in the second and then picked it up in the middle of the third. We just need that consistency and we’ll be good.”

Forsling, the Vancouver Canucks’ fifth-round selection at the 2014 NHL Draft, opened the scoring with his first of the tournament at 10:38 of the first.

With Calgary Flames prospect Rushan Rafikov serving a hooking penalty, Forsling put his point shot past a screened Sorokin.

After Leschenko scored twice to give Russia a 2-1 lead, Forsling added his second of the night and the tournament with a point shot, which found its’ way past Sorokin.

“It was nice. There was many people in front of the goal so I just get a shot through the guys and to see it go in — it was nice,” said Forsling. “Nylander sets me up really good. We’ve got some people in at the goal so I’ve got to give thanks to them.”

Nylander admitted post game that his familiarity with linemates Holmstrom and Lindblom, a Flyers’ prospect, from the Under-18 tournament has helped at this year’s Under-20 tournament.

The trio combined for five points in the win.

“Being together on such a short notice, you’re able to pick up the chemistry together cause we played together there at the U 18 so it’s getting better and better every day,” said Nylander.

Added Holmstrom: “William is such a good player. Probably one of the best players in this tournament. We’re good together.”

Sweden concludes the preliminary round against Switzerland on Wednesday while Russia plays the Czech Republic.

Bigras highlights Team Canada cuts at World Junior selection camp

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Colorado Avalanche prospect Chris Bigras was one of five players sent home from Team Canada’s World Junior selection camp Sunday.

Bigras was a member of the 2014 Canadian squad, which lost to Russia in the bronze medal game in January.

Defenseman Travis Sanheim, a Philadelphia Flyers’ prospect, was returned to the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League.

Forwards Remi Elie (Dallas Stars), Morgan Klimchuk (Calgary Flames) and Nick Baptiste (Buffalo Sabres) were also returned to their respective junior clubs.

Ottawa’s Curtis Lazar and Vancouver’s Bo Horvat are among those currently on NHL rosters who could possibly be added to the team, but a decision on their future must be made prior to the NHL’s roster freeze Dec. 19.

“It’s day-by-day. I haven’t heard anything, actually,” Horvat told ProHockeyTalk’s Cam Tucker. “Just trying to get better here and focus on trying to win here. If I keep doing that, eventually I’m sure they’re going to tell me what’s going on but for right now I’m just trying to focus on the Canucks.”

Team Canada’s roster currently consists of eight defencemen and 15 forwards and two goaltenders. The final roster, which needs to be finalized by Dec. 25, must be down to 22 players.