Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while fully enjoying the World Junior Hockey tournament returning this week. What are my initial thoughts after watching Finland/Canada and USA/Denmark on Tuesday?
Urho Vaakanainen is about what he was billed to be: A solid D-zone player with a good, active stick and above-average skating ability and he can play a lot of ice time. But there is very little offensive upside apparent at this point in his career and it makes him a bit of a one-dimensional player. The only time he got aggressive offensively was in the third period when Finland was trailing by a couple of goals. He doesn’t seem to have much feel for the offensive game beyond outlet passes out of the defensive zone. He looks like he’s going to be an NHL player as a defensive defenseman, but he also doesn’t have quite as high a ceiling as you might expect from a mid-first round pick.
Joona Koppanen was good around the net and looked like there’s some potential as a bottom-six center playing against some very good Team Canada competition.
On the Team USA side, Trent Frederic is the fourth-line center for the Americans and continues to show size, strength, good face-off abilities and a willingness to play the blue-collar game. The offense just doesn’t shine with him in these international tournaments. He also looks like a solid NHL player with a bit of a lower ceiling unless there is a great deal of offensive improvement. The size, strength and net-front presence may allow him to cultivate more offense, but it’s not there at this point. Ryan Lindgren looks like a solid two-way defenseman who is a better skater than you might expect and is meat-and-potatoes much in the same way that Vaakanainen is.
A solid, if unspectacular, opening night for the Bruins prospects in the World Junior tournament in Buffalo.
*The Bruins will face off against the Ottawa Senators tonight, and the Sens hope to straighten out their record in one-goal games post-holidays.
*Speaking of the World Junior hockey tournament, FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mike Harrington chronicles the empty seats and replay reviews making for an ugly opening night for the tourney in Buffalo.
*A sad day in hockey on Wednesday as four-time Stanley Cup champ Johnny Bower has passed away at the age of 93.
*Zach Parise will play his first meaningful hockey game of the season in the AHL as he works his way back from back surgery.
*Jordan Staal is finally beginning to reach his comfort level as the captain of the Carolina Hurricanes after a long transition period from Pittsburgh.
*As we go through the compilations, here are the top 10 NHL shootout goals from 2017, according to Pro Hockey Talk's Year in Review.
*For something completely different: When will we all agree to never read, write or consume any content involving this person again? Why is she still relevant to anybody? When are the 15 minutes finally up? I just don’t get it.