With Buffalo hosting the 2018 World Juniors it’s no surprise that Sabres fans are excited to see the Sabres prospects put on a show in front of the Buffalo fans. Casey Mittelstadt and Team USA will garner almost all the attention from Sabres fans, and justifiably so, but there are a lot of potential future Sabres that fans should keep an eye on too.
Here are the top five 2018 NHL Draft eligible players to watch at the World Juniors:
1)Rasmus Dahlin, D, Team Sweden, 6-2, 183
No surprise that Dahlin is the number one player to watch at the tournament in Buffalo. The electrifying Swedish d-man is already regarded as a lock for the top pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, and drawing comparisons to Erik Karlsson. Dahlin played last year at the tournament and put the world on notice, although he only scored two points in seven games he dazzled with his skill.
His momentum from last year has carried into this year as well, he has 11 points in 26 SHL games, and has played a lot of minutes all while putting up some highlight reel plays. Dahlin is virtually a lock for the number one pick at the next draft, with the Sabres struggling as badly as they are Dahlin is definitely a name to watch for Sabres fans.
2)Filip Zadina, LW, Team Czech Republic, 6-1, 192
Zadina, a highly skilled Czech playing in the QMJHL with the Halifax Mooseheads a definte player to watch. The Czechs have a highly skilled team and Zadina might be the team’s best player, he has dominated the Q scoring 24 goals and 22 assists in his 32 games played so far.
Zadina’s draft stock Is definitely rising and given his track record of success at the international level he should put up numbers at the World Juniors. In 65 appearances with the Czechs at the international level Zadina has 73 points. Zadina is a player that not many people may know about but fans will get to know him very quickly.
3)Andre Svechnikov, RW, Team Russia, 6-2, 187
Svechnikov is regarded as the best player in the draft (other than Dahlin) and will more than likely be the second overall pick at the NHL Draft. Svechnikov is the most talented offensive player in the draft, he has been dominating the OHL since being selected first overall in the import draft. Although he has missed time with an injury, he has 14 goals and seven assists in 21 games.
If given any space on the ice, he is going to dominate for the Russians. I expect big things from him because of his speed, skill and ability to shoot the puck. The Russians will heavily rely on Svechnikov’s offence in order to achieve success in Buffalo.
4)Brady Tkachuk, C/LW, Team USA, 6-3, 196
Tkachuk, younger brother of Matthew is a physical force who possesses a lot skill, he models his game after his dad and older brother and should be a very exciting player to watch at the World Juniors. He captained the US to a gold medal last year at the U18, and will look to continue his success at the international level. As of now he has had a very good season at BU in the NCAA he has 14 points in 19 games and will play a prominent role with the American squad as they look to repeat.
Tkachuk is my favourite undrafted player at this tournament, his speed, skill and physicality make him a future NHL stud. Although the Sabres desperately need D, if the cards fall and Tkachuk is drafted by the Sabres next year Sabres fans should be ecstatic, he is exactly like his older brother and will be a perfect top six power forward for many years to come.
5)Quinn Hughes, D, Team USA, 5-10, 174
Hughes, an electrifying offensive defenceman for the United States will be a very exciting player for any fan to watch at the World Junior Tournament. He put the world on notice at the U18 tournament last year, he scored five points in seven games en route to a gold medal.
This year the draft is full of top tier defenceman, and Hughes is probably going to be one of the first D taken off the board. With the Sabres’ struggles still in full effect there is a strong possibility Hughes could be a future Sabre so fans will want to watch him as much as possible as he will be a very big factor for the Americans.