Traditionally the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship features a higher age group with older players, likely drafted representing their respective countries. Usually only a few draft-eligibles are included in Country lineups. The top two potential draft picks in the upcoming NHL draft were included on Team Canada (Connor McDavid) and U.S. (Jack Eichel).
This is a primarily drafted player tournament however and for fantasy GM’s, there are a few names that should be included on every single reserve or bench list.
In 2015, Toronto and Montreal hosted young players from North America and Europe, on the cusp of making an impact for the country before donning NHL team club silks.
Ottawa sent Curtis Lazar who led Team Canada to their first Gold medal in over a handful of years, while the Oilers balked at allowing prized rookie Leon Draisatl represent the German squad.
While these players made an impact for Mother Country, they should be stashed on a bench or reserve list in dynasty and keeper leagues.
To help you, dear poolie, to make the case to draft or hold on to some future potential, here are five (5) players that must be on a bench/reserve list.
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William Nylander - Toronto
Prized Leafs 2014 1st round selection (8th overall) had an excellent World Junior tournament, leading the Tre Kronor in scoring (7-3-7-10) - and fourth in shots on goal - despite the disappointing Swedes ability to medal. There is a lot to love about the talented son of former NHLer, Michael Nylander, while the parent club made waves recalling him back to North America shortly after the tournament prior to the closing of the IIHF transfer window. The Maple Leafs felt it was better for his overall development if he stayed in North America learning the overseas game as a member of the Marlies – especially when considering the difficulties with club team MODO to which he dressed prior to the World Juniors. They have no plans to use him in the NHL at the moment. He will be stashed away on the Toronto Marlies for the rest of the 2014-15 season where poolies and potential owners will have a prime viewing window. This talented Swede will be on everyone's radar come the draft, make sure to pencil in a draft ranking for him – or stash him away on a reserve list.
Oliver Bjorkstrand – Columbus
The Blue Jackets had to be extremely proud of the talented Dane who along with Nikolaj Ehlers shone like a brilliant diamond in the World Juniors, running roughshod as the main two-pronged Danish offensive weapon partnered with Ehlers. The Portland Winterhawks winger exhibited much more stable presence on his blades, showing off improved skating and balance complimented with cuts and diagonal shifts, whistling shots towards the net at will, finishing second in the tournament with 25 shots on goal - despite scoring only four goals. The main shooting target, it seemed like the rest of the team - including Ehlers - wanted to get him the puck for most scoring opportunities, especially while stationed on the left half boards on the power play. Hit the radar during the tournament, while making the Blue Jackets in 2015-16 is not out of the question. Making excellent strides and only scratching the surface of a solid upside as a pro.
Nikolaj Ehlers - Winnipeg
Potentially the tournament’s most dangerous player with the puck on his stick was the Jets 2014 1st round pick (9th overall). Despite a pedestrian four points (7-1-3-4), the 5-foot-11, 165 pound Halifax Mooseheads forward flashed all compass skill set, including solid skating and acceleration strides, shining as a solid puck rusher with end to end bursts in addition to subtle puck touches and a strong forecheck and cycle game with countryman Oliver Bjorkstrand. Size is an issue in comparison to NHL counterparts, however, the speed and skill combination exudes excitement for the Winnipeg batch of prospects vying for a spot with the big club. The jets had plenty of representation at the tournament, particularly in Nic Petan for Team Canada overshadowing the Dane en route to a Gold medal. While most are trying to add Petan, be sure to zig while others zag. Needs to add some muscle and upper body strength, but if you're looking to augment your prospect bench, this Dane is a perfect spot for which to begin. The only thing you'll ask yourself is how did this player slip to 9th overall in the NHL draft?
Max Domi - Arizona
Plenty of candidates from the Gold medal winners to own or have stashed away on a reserve bench, including captain Lazar, leading scorer, Sam Reinhart, and undersized Nic Petan, however, the son of former NHLer Tie Domi will have a prime spot for the offensively challenged Arizona Coyotes. The London Knights forward has excelled beyond expectations in league play prior to the World Juniors, a fixture on a struggling Knights squad, with enough offensive creativity, opportunity and responsibility to vie for an OHL scoring title. The Knights likeliness of an early exit from the OHL playoffs offers a brief audition with the big club before settling in on a spot in Portland for a taste of the professional game. Be clear though, the Domi Jr shares very little of the ‘tough guy’ parallel to his old man. He's a skilled, high tempo player, with the only drawback being a diminutive frame to handle the abuse awaiting him at the next level. There may be more upside potential in his Canadian teammates, but more immediate placement at the NHL is likelier for Max. Make sure he's stashed away.
Dylan Larkin - Detroit
The mantra in Hockeytown is develop via the AHL. Time in the minor leagues means honing skills to learn how to a) be a pro, b) identify nuances and intricacies of the professional game, and c) transfer translatable skills from lower leagues to NHL readiness. The philosophy is clearly evident in the manner the Red Wings season their youth. Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist, both Red Wing mainstays in 2014-15 experienced extended periods with the Grand Rapids Griffins. Former Team Canada forward from the 2014 WJHC Anthony Mantha is currently experiencing the initiation process. In the case of Larkin, the University of Michigan product scored five goals in five games, complimenting the shoot first mentality that trumps the playmaking ability, offensively. Already mature in his defensive game, the two-way center was one of the most dangerous tournament wingers, justifying the 19th overall selection in 2014. There's still some time at the University level, unless he signs his first professional contract and embarks on the seasoning process in Grand Rapids. Detroit's veterans are aging and only a select crop of youth have filled in the scoring slots, so there is a possible fast track in their prospect pool that Larkin can exploit. Don't miss out, stash him away on a reserve now.