Most countries participating in this year's U20 World Junior Championship in Sweden have released their preliminary rosters for the tournament, and two New York Rangers prospects will be participating.
Brady Skjei, a sophomore defenseman at the University of Minnesota, has been invited to Team USA's camp. Skjei, who did not make the team last year, has had a very good year with Minnesota and is likely to be given a big role for the Ameicans. No defensemen from last year's gold medal winning team is returning this year, meaning Skjei will be one of the oldest defensemen on the roster.
Pavel Buchnevich, a third round pick from last summer's NHL Entry Draft, will be the other representative. Buchnevich, who has 12 points in 29 games this season with Severstal Cherepovets of the Kontinental Hockey League, has been invited to Russia's camp and also is expected to play a prominent role for his team. This will be Buchnevich's first appearance in the tournament, though he did post 11 points in 7 games during last year's U18 tournament.
Notable omissions include Anthony Duclair (Canada), Cristobal Nieves (USA), and Calle Andersson (Sweden). Duclair has made a very good case for himself but was up against too many older, more mature players for Canada. He'll be a legitimate candidate for next year. Nieves has had a somewhat inconsistent campaign with the University of Michigan this season but still holds a respectable eight points in 13 games. He also was a victim of numbers, as the U.S. is loaded with center talent this year. The Hockey News' Ryan Kennedy highlighted Nieves as one of the most noticeable snubs. Andersson, 19, has been relatively solid with the Malmo Redhawks of Sweden, but did not have enough time to catch up to the rest of the pack after missing significant time with a wrist injury.
Keep reading for some other prospect updates.
Anthony Duclair: Earned a goal and two assists last night in the Quebec Remparts' 6-3 loss. Both assists came on the powerplay, where Duclair distributed the puck from the point. Duclair's goal came 4-on-4 and showed off all facets of his game. He made a defensive play in his own zone to cause a turnover, then used his speed and carried to puck the other way for an odd-man rush. He opted to take the shot and put it in far post. Duclair now has 23 goals and 38 points through 29 games.
Mackenzie Skapski: Made 16 saves on 19 shots last night in the Kootenay Ice's 3-2 loss.
Ryan Graves: Four shots and one hit last night in the Charlottetown Islanders' 3-2 loss.
Pavel Buchnevich: Played only five shifts and 4:09 minutes for Severstal Cherepovets yesterday in his first game back from a concussion. Severstal lost 3-1.
Finally, here is a great writeup from Bob Crawford, who does radio play-by-play for the Hartford Wolfpack, on Rangers prospect Michael Kantor. Kantor, who was signed as an undrafted free agent at the end of last season, grew up as a Rangers fan. Kantor is playing with the Wolfpack this season and plays a similar game to guys like Brandon Prust and Jed Ortmeyer.
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