Today marks the beginning of the Quarter-Finals round of the 2017 World Junior Championship. Through the preliminary round, the three Sabres prospects participating in the tournament have left a big imprint on their respective team’s success.
Casey Fitzgerald started the tournament as Team USA’s seventh defenseman, and after a very strong preliminary round, he’s earned himself a top 4 role. The slick American defenseman finished the preliminary round with three (3a) points in four games. He played a very strong physical game against Team Canada on New Year’s Eve and has rightfully earned the respect of his coach and teammates. Team USA and Fitzgerald take on Switzerland at 5:30 EST.
Rasmus Asplund has been a silently important piece in Sweden’s success. He is hidden behind the stardom of Nylander, Eriksson Ek, etc, but has played a pivotal role for the Swedes. Winning nearly 70% of faceoffs and registering three (1g,2a) in four games, Asplund, flying under the radar has had a good tourney so far.
The Sabres top draft choice in the 2016 NHL Draft and top prospect in their system, Alexander Nylander, leads the entire tournament in scoring heading into the elimination rounds. The slick forward has found success playing with Joel Eriksson Ek (MIN) and Carl Grundstrom (TOR) and will likely continue his dominance of the tourney up until the medal games. The young Swede has 9 points (4g,5a) in just four games. Nylander has said that Sweden is looking for revenge after last year’s disappointing finish and that “We’re here to win gold.” It’s not unlikely the skilled Swedish team finds themselves battling for a gold medal as long as Nylander continuous to own the tourney. Team Sweden is back in action today against Slovakia.