Eric Lindros was a man among boys at the WJC and won two gold medals in three tournaments. (Mike Powell/Allsport)
In THN’s latest book, Top 10: Counting Down The Game’s Wonderful, Wild, Weird and Wacky, one of the 65 lists ranks the best-ever world junior players by their total point production. While stats were certainly considered for this countdown, the below compilation explores the best all-time performances at the event.
One of the NHL’s most dangerous snipers, and a 2012 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee, was a terror to goalies at the world juniors. In three events, Bure set a WJC record with 27 goals and twice scored the most in the tournament, with his best showing coming in 1991 when he notched 12. Bure’s Soviets won gold in 1989 when he was named the tournament’s top forward, but finished second to Canada his next two times.
A beast of a man among juniors, Lindros was the most physically imposing player in tournament history. After scoring four goals in a gold medal effort in 1990, he became the leader of another gold medal team and was named top forward in ’91 with six goals and 17 points in seven games. Despite Lindros tying for third in scoring in 1992, Canada struggled and finished sixth.
It’s hard to ignore the WJC’s all-time leading scorer. Forsberg’s numbers are inflated, however, by a 10-point game in a 20-1 win over Japan, so he’s not the automatic No. 1 on this list. Forsberg wasn’t able to lead Sweden to gold in two tournaments, winning silver in both, but his record 24 assists and 31 points in 1993 earned him top forward honors.
The captain of clutch, Eberle scored crucial goals for the Canadians in back-to-back tournaments. In 2009, Eberle’s goal with 5.4 seconds left in the semifinal against Russia sent the game into overtime and eventually to a shootout, where Eberle scored one of two markers to send Canada to the gold medal game, which it ultimately won. Then in 2010, Eberle scored two goals in the final 2:49 of regulation in the gold medal game to turn a 5-3 deficit into a tie, though Canada lost to the U.S. in overtime. His eight goals and 13 points in 2010 led the tournament and he was named top forward.
Every time he stepped on the international stage, Reichel took his game to a new level and it all started in junior. In three appearances, he established himself as the second-highest scorer in tourney history. His best showing was in 1990 when he led in goals (11) and points (21) and was named the top forward in a bronze medal effort.
Sitting in a tie for fourth on the all-time points list, Mogilny was named best forward at the 1988 event, one year after being involved in the ‘Punch-up in Piestany’ that disqualified the Soviets and Canadians. Though the USSR was held to silver that year, they’d win gold a year later, when Mogilny’s 12 points were second on the team to first-year WJCer Pavel Bure.
If it wasn’t for the disqualification in 1987, Waite would likely have a silver medal on his resume as well as his gold from ’88. Waite’s big year in ’88 saw him play all seven games and be named top goaltender with a 2.29 GAA. In the crucial contest against the USSR, Waite held the highest-scoring team in the tournament to two goals in a 3-2 win.
The only two-time winner of the best defenseman award, Fetisov combined for 13 points in 14 official World Junior Championship games and earned gold medals in 1977 and 1978.
He twice led in goals and is second all-time with 25. Ruzicka is the Cy Young WJC player, posting only nine assists next to his lofty goal total. He helped the Czechs to silver in ’83, when they earned a 7-7 tie against Canada.
Parise gets the nod for leading the Great American Breakthrough. He paced the U.S. in scoring in 2003 and 2004, with 19 points in 13 games. He was named MVP in the second of his two events, which culminated in Team USA’s first WJC gold medal.