Vancouver Canucks World Junior Championship Preview


The Canadian Boxing Day tradition continues, and Vancouver Canucks fans might get a break from a losing brand of hockey for a change. #HereWeGo

With the World Juniors just around the corner, Vancouver Canucks fans now have things to cheer about. The Canucks are sending Jake Virtanen to Helsinki, Finland, to represent Canada alongside two of their latest draft picks.

While Virtanen headlines the Team Canada roster, Brock Boeser of the University of North Dakota will look to put his scoring touch on display for Canada’s biggest rival. The 23rd overall pick of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft survived Team USA’s roster cut. Boeser, who will wear No. 23 for Team USA, is the youngest drafted forward on the roster. At just 18 years of age, he — like Virtanen this year — will be able to participate in the World Juniors again next year.

What Boeser has done this season is nothing short of spectacular. The future leader of the Vancouver Canucks might be in the makings, and he will look to make a statement as he plays on the US squad headlined by 2016 draft-eligible phenom Auston Matthews. He will face Virtanen and the Canadian red-and-white in the first game of the tournament, on Boxing Day. Hate to cheer against Virtanen’s Team Canada, but we will have to cross our fingers that Boeser lights the lamp sooner rather than later.

Related: Virtanen Could Head Back to juniors after WJC

Boeser will likely play on the third line beside his NCAA North Dakota teammate, sophomore Nick Schmaltz.

Lukas Jasek, another Canucks prospect, will play at the World Juniors for the Czech Republic, coming off of a disappointing start to his season with the HC Ocelari Trincec of the Czech Extraliga, the top hockey league in the country. The sixth-round, 174th-overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry draft will try to put his rather small frame to use — lists him at 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds — and score some goals for the Czech side. Although Jasek is not a star of the tournament by any means, look for his name to come up a couple of times on the scoreboard.

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Jasek has had some success playing against his peers on international fronts — one of the things that made Canucks GM Jim Benning draft him. His seven points in five games at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial last year is just one example. Remember, he is an 18-year-old playing in the Czech version of the NHL.

And of course, there is Jake Virtanen.

Virtanen is playing on the right wing of fellow returnee Brayden Point and Brendan Perlini. Virtanen figures to be the top-forward on his line, atop Point who was drafted 73 picks after him, and Perlini who was drafted six picks after him. Point is a great playmaker, and Virtanen’s fellow winger Perlini is a strong two-way skater with some physicality of his own. Virtanen’s line figures to be relied upon in all situations for Team Canada.

You can be excited for Virtanen. We will surely see him sit down a couple of defencemen. He will have a few highlights ready for you by the end of this tournament.

As for Jared McCann, the injury to captain Henrik Sedin has thinned down the Canucks down the middle, and the rookie centre will stay in Vancouver.

Next: Ryan Miller not good enough?

Folks, it is less than a week away. The World Junior Championship, starring some of the Vancouver Canucks’ top prospects. It gives us hope and joy in times of devastation. Team Canada looks to repeat. #HereWeGo