Seven players with plenty to prove; Tavares, Cherepanov
24.12.2007. Panzeri, Allen. National Post

PRAGUE - It is a mug's game to point your finger at one player in this world junior hockey championship and say: "He's going to be the guy."

With so many unknown qualities among the players on the 10 teams, several of which have not even set their official rosters, that is a guarantee for surprise.

That said, there are some players who will be watched closely, players who come into this tournament with reputations that demand attention.

Here is a look at a handful you can watch for as they race across your TV screen for the next two weeks:


Nothing much is expected of 17-year-old players, not unless your name is Eric Lindros (1991), Wayne Gretzky (1978) or Sidney Crosby (2005). They contribute, but do not dominate.

But let us face it: the centre with the Ontario Hockey League's Oshawa Generals is the player of his generation, the consensus No. 1 pick in the 2009 NHL draft.

He played in last summer's Super Series, has been gathering international experience and could be poised to break through, which would be welcome, since it is widely thought that Canada will have trouble scoring goals this year.

In 30 games before the OHL's holiday break, the six-foot, 196- pound Tavares has 24 goals and 44 assists.



He will be worth watching simply because he is only 16 years old. He is an anomaly, but so far in his career, nothing has slowed him down. He is supposed to be a dynamic talent.

The left-winger will not turn 17 until April, but he was playing at Sweden's junior-18 level when he was only 14 and had four goals and six points in 20 games at the junior-20 level last year.

This year, he made his debut in the Swedish Elite League for Timra IK.


At 6-foot-3 and 211 pounds, vanRiemsdyk is the prototypical NHL power forward. He played last year, when the U.S. won the bronze and is expected to be a force in this championship.

He is not lacking in confidence, either, nor an us-against-the- world attitude that is increasingly common these days in the U.S.

"Any time you get to pull on the jersey of your country there's nothing like it," he said in a recent interview.

" It's really thrilling, especially at the end of the game when you're on the blue line and they're playing your anthem after you win. There's nothing quite like that."


Josi and Stoop are the top two players in Switzerland.

They are included in this list because the Swiss would like to do more than scrape by and finish in the top eight.

These defenceman will play a key roll as Switzerland's aims to finish among the top four.

It will be a tough task, though, especially since the Swiss open against the Finns before playing the United States. By then, it might be over.

Josi , six-foot and 180 pounds, was the youngest player at the under-20 championship last year. He is an offensive defenceman with what is called "deceptively fast speed." He has soft "Palmolive" hands, said one Swiss commentator, and the ability to make tape-to- tape passes.

Stoop is only 17, so perhaps not a lot should be expected of him, but he is a highly ranked player.


Fans will remember the Siberian Express from last year, when he led the tournament in scoring, was named to the all-star team and helped Russia to the silver medal.

He is currently with Avangard Omsk of the Russian Super League. While the Russian team has not been officially named, it will be a surprise if he is not manning the wing.

If not for the NHL's reluctance to draft Russians last year, he would have been picked higher than 17th overall by the New York Rangers.

He was knocked out of the Super Series in the second game, when he collided with Canadian forward Brandon Sutter and suffered a concussion.

His work habits can be suspect, but he can play.


He is called the "Baby Jagr" in his homeland for his capacity to shake-and-bake.

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound centre had 31 goals and 42 assists for 73 points with Rimouski of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last year, and has 10 goals and 21 assists in 20 games at the break this season.

He is the Florida Panthers' No. 1 prospect. The Panthers selected him 10th overall in the 2006 draft.

With four goals and two assists, he was one of few Czech players who performed last year, but he and his teammates will be under pressure from the hometown fans. He is acutely aware of that.
"There is always bigger pressure on the home team. We will see. It will be good for us when there will be a big audience."

За 3 место. США - Россия. Голы россиян.
Финал. Швеция - Канада
Финал. Интервью с Марчандом.
Подгруппа А
Канада, Швеция, Чехия, Словакия, Дания
Подгруппа В
Россия, США, Финляндия, Швейцария, Казахстан
За 7-10 места
Слования, Казахстан, Швейцария, Дания

1/4 финала
Канада - Финляндия
Россия - Чехия
1/2 финала
Швеция - Россия
США - Канада
Чехия - Финляндия
США - Россия
Канада - Швеция
Первая страничка турнира
Статистика турнира
Молодежные чемпионаты мира (до 20 лет) 2008 года.
Первая страничка
Дивизион I. Группа А
Дивизион I. Группа B
Дивизион II. Группа А
Дивизион II. Группа B
Дивизион III