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Canada: Future of the NHL well represented

Canada: Future of the NHL well represented

Posted by Juan Gavasa on December 28, 2014

Every year the World Junior Championships provide hockey fans the opportunity to see some of the top NHL prospects represent their country. With 10 nations competing, there's a lot of talent packed into the short tournament.

Calgary Flames

The Calgary Flames have just one prospect in this year's tournament, but he'll be representing a major Group B contender. Russian defenceman Rushan Rafikov was drafted in the seventh round in 2013 by the Flames. This is the 19-year-old's first shot at the Juniors.

Edmonton Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers have two prospects participating. Canada's Darnell Nurse and Sweden's William Lagesson. Both are defenceman, and are taking part in the tournament for the first time.

Nurse was selected in the first round (seventh overall) in 2013. The 19-year-old is a must watch for Oilers fans. He's played in two games this season with Edmonton, but he has 19 points in 19 games played with the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens have four prospects on four different Junior teams this year. Many will be familiar with team Canada returnee Zach Fucale. The 19-year-old goalie was selected in the second round by the Canadiens in 2013.

He'll meet Slovakian forward Martin Reway in their first match of the tournament. In his third year in the tournament, the 19-year-old received the honour of wearing the "C" for his country. The fourth-round pick played with the Gatineau Olympiques in the 2013-14 season, where he registered 62 points in 43 games.

Two more Habs prospects will captain their team this year. Sweden's Jacob de la Rose is competing for the second time. He was a 2013 second-round pick. Another second-round pick, Finland's Artturi Lehkonen will be competing in his third tournament.

Ottawa Senators

Of course, team Canada's captain Curtis Lazar will be watched closely by all Canadians. The 2013 first-round draft pick is another returning player for Canada. The 19-year-old forward has seven points in 27 games this season with the Ottawa Senators.

Nick Paul will also play for Canada. The 19-year-old forward was a 2013 Dallas Stars' fourth-round draft pick, but he was acquired by the Senators in July. Ottawa's 2014 second-round pick, defenceman Andreas Englund will wear an "A" for Sweden.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Sweden's William Nylander is one of the team's more exciting prospects. The 2014 first-round pick (eighth overall) led Sweden's Men's Under-18 team in scoring last year with 16 points in seven games. 

A 2013 first-round draft pick, Canadian forward Frederik Gauthier is returning again this year. He has 14 points in 15 games with the QMJHL's Rimouski Océanic. Russian defenceman Rinat Valiyev went in the third round in 2014, and will be competing in his first tournament.

Vancouver Canucks

​The Vancouver Canucks also have three prospects competing, including 2014 sixth overall pick Jake Virtanen. The Canadian forward has 23 points in 20 games this season with the WHL's Calgary Hitmen.

American goalie Thatcher Demko is getting his first shot at the tournament this year. The 19-year-old went in the second round in 2014. Swedish defenceman Gustav Forsling is also representing his country for the first time. He was drafted in the fifth round in 2014.

Winnipeg Jets

The Jets boast a bright future with six prospects participating, which is the most of any NHL team. Three of the prospects will represent team Canada, and all were 2013 draftees. Defenceman Josh Morrissey was a first-rounder, and had three points in seven games with team Canada in last year's contest.

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