See what I have on my stick? PSYCH
Mikael Granlund (as pictured doing the routine "flip behind goaltender who is in the butterfly" move) is probably the most talented player in the tournament. Solid defensively, does tricks like that offensively, he's a Finnish Flash for sure. Brother Markus make for an exciting tandem up front. Plus, his linemates bring a wealth of experience. Never hurts.
Finland's goaltending has improved steadily as well through recent years, so that should prove to be good, right?
They're plain, otherwise. Like Sweden and USA, they don't have any glaring faults, except maybe their defending, which is still quite good.
Their game against Canada, the horrendous loss, proves they have a little more ways to go to becoming a powerhouse.
Samu Perhonen, an Oilers 3rd round pick, was once thought to be a lock for one of the three spots open for goaltending. Yeah, no.
Ville Pokka, however, should the Oilers improve and get a draft spot somewhere near 15-18, could be on the radar.
All signs point the team is moving in the right direction
The Czech Republic are icing a rather talented roster. They've got size on the D, talent up front - separate from the concussed Martin Frk - and athleticism in net. That's good, right?
They're in the same group as the USA, Canada, and the Finns. That does not bode well for any dark horse, let alone the second tier. Finland is making their push into the favorite section, USA likes to dominate, and Canada has not shown in recent history that they are going to take a step back from gold or silver. Yikes.
David Musil. Lowetide cites him as a draft steal - I would say his draft pedigree is approximately right where he was, 31. Defensively sound young defender, and that could be a boost for the big squad moving forward!
Slovakia, after realizing Patrik Stefan has officially retired
They have very good placement. Russia is the only real dominant threat in their pool, the real sure bet. These guys can be the upset makers against the Swedes, who may just lose their dominant favorite status to the Finns. With Switzerland and ho-hum Latvia also in their pool, they might just slip into the next round via mercy.
They're simply not as good or better than anybody else. They have talent, that's for sure. But, I mean, not enough to compete with the Russians, the Canadians, or the American squads.
Double Martin trouble here - Martin Marincin and Martin Gernat.
Marincin is the returning shocker, really. Nobody knew who he was, but as a rookie, dominated the WHL, causing many Oilers fans to rightfully begin the Cult of Worship of Stu the Magnificent Bastard.
Gernat, however, is the Marincin of this year. Nobody knew who he was, and as a rookie, is dominating the WHl. Seriously, you can't take your eyes off this kid when he plays. He's good. The CWSMB grows ever larger.
This is totally going to come back and haunt the team, isn't it
They are listed in the dark horse section.
Seriously, they have talent. People doubt the Swiss are, well, any good at all, but they have some clear talent to keep up with Slovakia, Czech Republic and Finland. Heck, they could surpass various facets of some crazy good teams through hard work.
They're overrated. They have Sven Barstchi, who I believe is one of the more overrated prospects in the system. Not simply because he is a Flame! Just because he's their only prospect...
Beyond that, no Benjamin Conz means they are in tough for goaltending. The man is a machine.
The best horse?
Finland, by miles. They could be in medal contention. I believe, at this point, they are followed closely by Slovakia, who benefits from the group placement. Switzerland and Czech Republic remain tied at third for unimportance.
Speaking of which, Latvia and Denmark will be featured in tomorrows WJC Tournament Rundown, along with my final predictions for the tourney. Oilers post coming soon.