By Thomas Harrington
Preliminary rosters for the upcoming 2017 World Junior Championships have been announced, and four Anaheim prospects could represent their home countries in Montreal and Toronto. Troy Terry was named to Team USA, Jacob Larsson to Team Sweden, Julius Nattinen to Team Finland, and Sam Steel was named to Team Canada. All four have an excellent chance of making the rosters of their respective countries.
Terry is a sophomore at the University of Denver and is having a very strong season for the Denver Pioneers. He has played in 16 games this season and scored eight goals and 14 points. As a freshman, he scored nine goals and 22 points in 41 games, so he should be able to set new offensive highs across the board this year. He’s a two-way center and could fit in nicely as Team USA’s third or fourth line center. Of Anaheim’s four prospects vying for a spot at the World Junior Tournament, Terry probably will have the most difficult time making the tournament.
Larsson made his NHL debut this season before being sent to San Diego and then returning home to Sweden, so Anaheim fans already have an idea of what this young player can do. He’s a solid two-way defenseman who should be a top four defenseman in the NHL for a long time. Since returning to the SHL, Larsson has played in 11 games and recorded two assists. A year ago, Larsson was a member of the Swedish team that finished a disappointing fourth in the tournament. After being one of their better defensemen, he’s almost certainly a lock to return to the World Junior Championship this year.
Nattinen almost turned pro this year, but the decision was made right before the season began to send him back to juniors for one more season. He’s averaging a point per game in Windsor this year, with five goals and 19 points in 19 games. Nattinen was a member of the gold medal-winning Team Finland a year ago and will most likely return to the roster to try and bring home a repeat gold to Finland.
Anaheim’s second first round pick from this past June, Steel, is having an amazing season in Regina, scoring 17 goals and 42 points in 20 games. The only thing that has slowed him down this season has been injuries. Before the season, I viewed him as a long shot to crack a deep Team Canada squad, but with the season that he’s having in the WHL, I’ll be shocked if Canada doesn’t select him.
The countries competing in the World Junior Tournament will hold their training camps the week before Christmas, and final rosters should be announced on or around Christmas Eve. No player is guaranteed a spot, but I think the Ducks will likely see three, if not all four, of their prospects, participate in this year’s World Junior Championship. The tournament will start on December 26th, and it should be a great one.
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