John Tavares was a force for Canada, scoring nine points in seven games. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)
The IIHF World Championship is a very big deal over in Europe, but is just ho-hum in North America, which is a shame, given the quality of players that are involved in the tournament. But fantasy owners should be paying attention, because you can often pick up signs from future NHL performers (see Plekanec, Tomas) before they become household names. Here were some notable performances from the tournament and what you can take away from them:
Andrei Kostitsyn, Belarus
Habs fans have seen this before from the puzzling Belarussian: seven points in five games, 17 shots and two game-winners. We’re getting tired of his hot/cold streaks. Does his solid play for his country signify a turnaround? We’re left with more questions, unfortunately.
John Tavares, Canada
His nine points in seven games led Team Canada and other than Jason Spezza (seven), nobody was within two points of Tavares. We all know a breakout is coming eventually, but his World Championship performance suggested to me that it’s coming right away. A stronger supporting cast for the Islanders will certainly help matters.
James Reimer, Canada
Undefeated with a .920 save percentage in three games for Canada. This guy has forgotten how to lose. Real deal? I should say so.
Alex Pietrangelo, Canada
His five points in seven games led all defensemen for Canada and his plus-9 was a team best. He’s on the fast track to becoming a top-five scorer among NHL blueliners.
Andrew Ladd and Evander Kane, Canada
The two Thrashers combined for two measly points in seven games for Canada. Ladd is coming off a breakout NHL season and as a leader you would think he would step up in big games, whether he’s on the checking line or not. The up-and-coming Kane is not ready for his breakout year just yet.
Matt Duchene, Canada
The fact he went pointless in seven games left me speechless. But with scoring roles going to Spezza and Tavares, Duchene found the bones of good ice time picked clean.
Jaromir Jagr, Czech Republic
Jagr had nine points in nine tournament games, which showed he still has plenty left in the tank. If he does return to the NHL, he’ll still get you 60 points.
Jakub Voracek, Czech Republic
Since Voracek played in this tournament, it tells me injuries were not a reason for his horrible one-point-in-16-games finish for Columbus. And then he managed just three points in nine games for the Czech Republic. There won’t be any “fourth-year magic” for Mr. Voracek, methinks.
Jarkko Immonen, Finland
He scored nine goals and 12 points to lead Finland instead of better-known players such as Mikko Koivu. Immonen, 29, made his last NHL appearance in 2006-07 as a member of the New York Rangers, the team that still holds his rights. He played last season in the Kontinental League, but there is said to be some interest from NHL teams.
Mikael Granlund, Finland
Minnesota’s future top offensive player had nine points in nine games. It’s very unfortunate for Wild fans that they will have to wait another year to see him, as he will remain in Finland to finish off his military obligations.
Alex Ovechkin, Russia
What is going on with this guy? A down season, another quick elimination from the post-season and then zero points in five games for his country. He has to be hurt - Ovechkin should be making all players in this tournament his playthings.
Vladimir Tarasenko, Russia
One point and a minus-3 in six games. Tarasenko showed some razzle-dazzle, but may not be as ready for a top-six role in the NHL as some poolies think.
Evgeny Artyukhin, Russia
If he comes back to the NHL as has been speculated, he is clearly ready to resume his low-scoring, high-penalty-minute ways. Artyukhin had three points and 24 PIM in nine contests during the tournament.
Al Montoya, USA
Not so fast. After playing his way to a one-way contract for the Islanders this season, Montoya stumbled in the World Championship and allowed nine goals on 70 shots. He still had a 2-1 record, though, which is better than partner Ty Conklin’s 1-3. Montoya will still be the surprise NHL goalie in 2011-12, unless Evgeni Nabokov decides to dress for the Isles.
Derek Stepan, USA
Oh man, he looks like a good one: Seven points in seven games to lead Team USA in the tournament after he had a strong rookie campaign for the Rangers. Within two seasons I predict Stepan will be at least a 70-point player.
Craig Smith, USA
Nashville’s fourth round pick from 2009 (98th overall) had 43 points in 41 games for the University of Wisconsin this season and then posted six points in seven games for his country. He looks like a potential multi-category stud, as he also had 87 PIM for Wisconsin. He’ll be in college for another year at least.
Patrik Berglund, Sweden
With eight goals in nine games, Berglund was second in that department in the tournament behind Immonen. He is one of my favorite “fourth-year magic” players to look out for in 2011-12.
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