Sunday, December 26, 2010

Can Lightning Strike Twice?

As the 2011 IIHF World Under-20 Championships get under way with a 12:30 match up between Germany and Switzerland, there are previews and predictions all over the place as to how the teams are expected to finish.

We did our prediction the other day but if you are looking for a team by team breakdown on  all 10 teams then we recommend our friends over at "Buzzing the Net" since they did all the heavy lifting for us and a masterful job at that.

Most of you will watch to see a country that you root for win the gold medal. We on the other hand use this tournament to take a look at the endless possibilities of a prospect.

Sure a great performance here is not a guarantee of someone becoming a star but we do get to learn a lot about the prospects.

Take Derek Stepan for example as while we had projected him as a future Ranger prior to the 2010 tournament, the 2010 tournament was his coming out party for all intents and purposes. Stepan just a sophomore at Wisconsin only led the tournament in scoring but more importantly was a 3rd period specialist as whenever Team USA needed a big play it was Stepan who made it.

We bring Stepan up because we see opportunities for Ranger and Islander prospects to have their own coming out party at the 2011 tournament. Yes you know about Chris Kreider, Ryan Bourque and Calvin De Haan but the players we are going to be watching out for are Islander prospects Brock Nelson (2010 1st) and Casey Cizikas (2009 4th) along with Ranger's prospect Jesper Fasth (2010 6th).

But the more we see Brock Nelson, the more we think about how Derek Stepan went from a mostly unknown 2nd round pick to a prospect Ranger fans could not wait to see Stepan turn pro.

Nelson is for the most part having a quiet freshman season at North Dakota at 2-4-6 in 20 games but at 6'3 and still growing into his body we know better days are ahead of him but how will he be used by Team USA is going to interesting to watch.

We saw him score 2 goals against Norway as he was teamed with Emerson Etem of the Medicine Hat Tigers and Jason Zucker who plays with the University of Denver. It is interesting to note that Etem was the player selected right (by the Anaheim Ducks) at 29 before the Islanders traded up to pick Nelson at 30.

Nelson could just use this tournament just like Stepan did to introduce himself to the world as until the 2010 games, Michael Del Zotto was the Ranger prospect getting all the ink. This year it is Nino Niederreiter who is getting all the ink while nobody is even thinking of Nelson.

Pretty sure Team USA would love to see that kind of story repeating itself as will Brock Nelson.

If you have the NHL Network in the USA then you can spend your Sunday with Canada/Russia then USA/Finland.  Not a bad late Christmas present is it?

(Fasth/HV71, Nelson/NHL Media, Cizikas/Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

1 comment:

sager said...

Thanks Jess, although Puck Worlds put us to shame!