12 CHL players compete for medals at World Juniors
Canada’s quarter-final loss at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship means the 20 Canadian Hockey League players competing with Team Canada will now return to their respective junior clubs. However, a dozen CHL talents still remain with the four squads that advanced to the semi-final:
David Aebischer – Gatineau Olympiques
With one assist in Switzerland’s first five contests, David Aebischer’s game has been better highlighted by his play in the defensive zone. But that’s not to say a scoring touch is foreign to the budding blue-liner, as the 18-year-old has shown early signs of offensive prowess in his first season in North America, picking up two goals and seven assists with the Gatineau Olympiques.
Alexander Alexeyev – Red Deer Rebels
Russia hasn’t had much difficulty generating offense from the back end at the world juniors, and Red Deer Rebels defenseman Alexander Alexeyev can be counted among that group. The 19-year-old has recorded two goals and two assists in five games, including the game-winning tally over Switzerland in round-robin action. The Washington Capitals selected Alexeyev with the final pick in the first round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.
Sasha Chmelevski – Ottawa 67’s
With two goals and one assist through five games, Sasha Chmelevski has kept the opposition honest by providing reliable secondary scoring for the American squad, including the key insurance marker over the Czech Republic in the quarter-final. The California native is playing a similar role this season with the Ottawa 67’s, where he sits third in team scoring. Chmelevski was a sixth-round pick by the San Jose Sharks in 2017.
Nando Eggenberger – Oshawa Generals
Passed up in last year’s NHL Entry Draft, Nando Eggenberger is doing his part to make sure scouts underline his name this season. The 19-year-old winger brings impressive size and a nifty scoring touch to the Oshawa Generals, and has continued to display those attributes with Switzerland at the world juniors, where he has collected three points through the round robin and quarter-final.
Nico Gross – Oshawa Generals
While Nico Gross has been held without a point through Switzerland’s first five games, the 18-year-old has done his part in his own end of the ice. A fourth-round draft pick by the New York Rangers in 2018, Gross has continued to build his offensive game this season with the Oshawa Generals. After finishing 2017-18 with 14 points, he’s already at 12 this season despite playing in 27 fewer games.
Kyle Keyser – Oshawa Generals
Holding down second-string duties with Team USA, Kyle Keyser has appeared in two contests at the world juniors and remains unbeaten in regulation. While he’s not seeing a ton of pucks at the tournament, he’ll return fresh for a playoff run with the Oshawa Generals. Across 24 games with the Generals this season, Keyser owns a 16-5-0 record with a .931 save percentage. The Florida-born netminder signed with the Boston Bruins as an undrafted free agent in 2017.
Philipp Kurashev – Quebec Remparts
There’s no slowing down Philipp Kurashev, who leads his native Switzerland at the world juniors with six points through five games. That showing included a pair of goals against the defending champion Team Canada squad. In the junior ranks, Kurashev leads the Quebec Remparts across all categories – goals, assists, and points – making his pick by the Chicago Blackhawks in the fourth round of last year’s NHL Entry Draft look like a keen selection.
Simon Le Coultre – Moncton Wildcats
Le Coultre has been a steady presence for the Swiss, while he also chipped in a goal in a 4-0 shutout win over Denmark in the round robin. The 19-year-old has not been drafted into the NHL but has continued to make his case this season with the Moncton Wildcats. Through 27 games, Le Coultre has registered 17 points, including 10 goals, tops among all Moncton defensemen.
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen – Sudbury Wolves
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen heads to the semi-final after appearing in all five Finland games, where he allowed just eight goals on 117 shots. The Finnish netminder continues to adapt to the North American game, as evidenced this year in his rookie campaign with the Sudbury Wolves. With the Wolves, Luukkonen has come away with an impressive 19-5-1 record through 26 games, coupled with a .923 save rate. The Buffalo Sabres selected Luukkonen 54th overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.
Valentin Nussbaumer – Shawinigan Cataractes
With three points in five games, Valentin Nussbaumer has provided solid secondary scoring for the Swiss, including a goal and an assist against Russia in the round robin. With Shawinigan this year, Nussbaumer has displayed solid offensive instincts, as he’s put up 18 points in 30 games in his first QMJHL campaign. The Cataractes selected Nussbaumer with the fourth-overall pick in the 2018 CHL Import Draft.
Jason Robertson – Niagara IceDogs
It’s been a busy season for Jason Robertson, who has split time between the Kingston Frontenacs and Niagara IceDogs following a November deal, while he’s now plying his trade with the Americans at the world juniors. A natural goal scorer, Robertson has shined in set-up duty with Team USA, as he’s collected one goal and six assists at the tournament. The budding forward was a second-round pick by the Dallas Stars in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.
Dmitri Samorukov – Guelph Storm
Dmitri Samorukov has notched five points in five games with Russia, including two goals and an assist in a 7-4 win over Switzerland in the round robin. With the Guelph Storm, the rearguard ranks second in points by a defenseman with two goals and 15 assists in 30 games. Samorukov was a third-round pick by the Edmonton Oilers in 2017.