As the holiday break ends for the prospects of the New York Rangers and New York Islanders, the main focus of the hockey media will be on the 2012 World Under- 20 Championships. The Rangers be represented by two members and the Islanders three from the 2011 draft classes.
For the New York Islanders, it will be Ryan Strome playing for Canada, Andrey Pedan for Russia and Johan Sundstrom who will play for Sweden. The Rangers have JT Miller of Team USA and Peter Ceresnak playing for Slovakia.
The five players will be the fewest number of players from the local teams in recent history. We won't get into why so few were picked and concentrate our efforts on the players will play.
It will be interesting to see how Strome and Miller match up against each other when the two teams face on New Year's Eve. We're talking about two different types of players here as Strome is more gifted on the offensive than Miller who has shown a very good 2-way game with the Plymouth Whalers.
We have to admit that will be our first time watching Johan Sundstrom and we're looking forward to it as we were told use a pretty good offensive minded player in his own right while Ceresnak is making his second appearance fore team Slovakia and Pedan we believe for Russia.
If you are looking for predictions on how this tournament will wind up; we expect the usual Canada, Russia, USA, Sweden to make up the top four. We'll toss in Finland whose hockey program has been improving and then it's anyone's guess to see who will avoid having to play in the relegation round.
Both Slovakia and the Czech Republic have fallen on hard times in recent years, Switzerland has played well but they just don't have enough depth or size to match up with a more physical teams. If you're looking for a long shot you can keep looking as we're really can't see either Denmark or Latvia playing for anything more than trying to avoid being relegated back to division one for next year.
We'll also have the usual calls for changes in the format after the first team is blown out 10 or 11 to 0; those calls will quiet down after the first upset in the round robin. Then is also going to be the annual dissection of every single move or non move made by Team Canada.
For us our real interest here is not going to happen until New Year's Eve when Canada plays United States as that game is starting to become an annual tradition with the winner getting a bye into the medal round.
Our attention also is being split because the greater majority of prospects are returning to their junior or NCAA teams this week. We will also be looking to see if any of the prospects playing in the CHL will be on the move as the league's feet closer to the training deadlines.
We are hoping to see a couple of the prospects moved to better teams to help their development. In any case it's about to get really busy really fast.
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