It was awesome to see hockey back as the 2021 World Junior Championship delivered some outstanding hockey from the future stars of the NHL.
Serving as somewhat of an appetizer for Nashville Predators fans and hockey fans in general, the 2021 World Junior Championship in Edmonton has to come an end.
Team USA put together what was a very impressive defensive showing to pull off the massive upset over Team Canada to the final score of 2-0.
This is the first Gold Medal for Team USA since 2017, and their fifth overall in their history. They’re now tied with Team Finland for the second-most in tournament history, only trailing Team Canada who has 18 gold medals all-time.
The NHL Network did a superb job showcasing the tournament and airing every game. Awesome commentary and analysis on the future stars of the NHL.
Tomasino leads the way
Philip Tomasino is highly-regarded as the top prospect in the Nashville Predators organization, and he didn’t disappoint in this tournament despite his team coming up a bit short in the Gold Medal game.
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Tomasino finishes the tournament with six points in seven games, including four goals, and made his mark on a stacked Canada roster. On any other team in the tournament he would’ve likely been on the top line.
The Predators didn’t have any prospects on Team USA, which was another team stacked with first-round talent and a goaltender in Spencer Knight who refused to fold against every Canadian onslaught in the final game.
The Bronze Medal game was earlier in the day and featured Team Finland and Team Russia, which both have prospects from the Predators.
Starting with Team Russia, they had three prospects on their team. Iaroslav Askarov is the big one at goaltender who just got drafted by the Predators in 2020 at the 11th-overall pick.
Team Canada peppered Askarov with shot after shot in the 1st period of the semifinal game, and he just couldn’t do enough to keep Team Russia in the game early on. It got out of hand after that.
Askarov surrendered just two goals in the Bronze Medal game to a high-powered Team Finland, but it wasn’t good enough. He finishes his tournament run with a .914 save percentage and a 2.50 GAA. Certainly isn’t numbers to sneeze at, and you have to expect him to be back for the 2022 World Juniors.
Egor Afanasyev tallied two goals in the tournament four Team Russia, while defenseman Semyon Chistyakov posted three assists and laid out some pretty big hits throughout the tournament.
Team Finland was a fun team to watch with fast skaters and a team that was never out until the clock hit zero. Juuso Pärssinen, a 2019 seventh-round pick by the Predators, really used this tournament to make a name for himself in the prospect pool.
was a big piece for the Fins in this tournament. He added an empty net goal to seal the deal for Finland and the Bronze Medal. He also tallied an impressive shooting percentage of over 16.
The future looks bright
Many of the prospect pool rankings you’ll come across has the Nashville Predators in the bottom half of the NHL. They come in at No.16 on ESPN’s extensive rankings list that was just recently posted.
Askarov comes in at the top of their list in the prospect pool, followed by Tomasino at No.2, Afanasyev at No.4 and Chistyakov at No.5.
Overall I would say the World Juniors were a successful one for the five prospects the Predators had participating. They all showed flashes of why they’re so highly-regarded in the organization, with Tomasino making the biggest impact as expected.
Tomasino showcased his effortless skating ability and quick shot mentality. He was surrounded by extraordinary talent, and he looked like he fit right in with them.
Askarov had some shaky moments in net for Team Russia, but also is still very young and will continue to round out his game before it’s time to be considered for an NHL roster spot.
The Predators should come away pleased with what they saw from all five prospects. We’ll have to wait and see if Tomasino will be in Predators training camp, which has already started.
Expect Tomasino to likely land on the taxi squad initially for the Predators, but if an injury or shaky play happens on the starting roster then you better believe that Tomasino will be one of the first to get a starting role.
The other prospects will head back to the leagues they were already playing in, like Askarov, Afanasyev and Chistyakov in the KHL. Pärssinen was playing in the professional Finnish league called Liiga.