It’s the most wonderful time of the year - World Junior hockey time!
This week, we are going to start hearing news about the rosters that will be heading to Vancouver for the IIHF Under-20 World Championship. Teams Canada and USA are going to hold selection camps over the next two weeks, but some of the European teams are already naming their final roster.
This afternoon, Colorado Avalanche prospect Shane Bowers was invited to Team Canada's selection camp. With the depth Canada has up front, he’s going to be a long shot to make the team, but just being one of the players invited to camp shows how high Hockey Canada is on him as a prospect.
While no one is expected to be at the World Juniors representing the Avs for the North American teams, we do know that we will see at least a couple Colorado Avalanche prospects at the tournament. Earlier this morning Finland and the Czech Republic announced their rosters and there were a couple of familiar names listed.
Martin Kaut will be leaving the Eagles later this month to join the Czech team in Vancouver. As a returning player, Kaut should be one of the leaders of his team and will be relied upon to carry a lot of the offense. Last year, he averaged a point-per-game over his seen games in the tournament.
After being selected 16th overall in last June’s draft, Kaut has looked pretty good in his first season of North American professional hockey. So far he has four goals and 11 points through his first 21 games in the AHL with the Colorado Eagles.
Joining Kaut at the tournament will be 2018 third-round pick Sampo Ranta. The 18-year-old Avs prospect has six points through 13 games in his first season with the University of Minnesota. Ranta will bring a lot of speed to the lineup for team Finland.
Though it’s great to see Ranta on Finland’s roster, one surprising omission was goaltender Justus Annunen. The Avalanche spent the 64th overall selection on Annunen this past summer and many thought that he would be a candidate to fill one of the three goalie spots for Finland.
Playing for Hermes of the Mestis league in Finland, Annunen has a less than impressive .859 sv% this season. Despite his history with the international team, Anunnen’s growing pains seem to be enough for Finland to leave him at home.