The World Junior Hockey Championship (beginning Boxing Day), has become an annual post-Christmas tradition for many Canadian hockey fans. One of the main sources of excitement is watching your team's young prospects go up against their peers, and for many NHL fans, it's the only time we get a chance to watch the kids play. In the last couple years, Canucks fans have been treated to fine performances by Cody Hodgson, Jordan Schroeder, and Anton Rodin, but unfortunately this year, we won't get the chance to cheer on any future Canucks (barring future trades of which only Marty McFly would have knowledge).
The only prospect who was even considered for his country's team was goaltender Jonathan Iilahti, who was selected in the 6th round of the 2010 NHL entry draft. Iilahti performed well last year for Finland in the U-18 tournament, helping Finland to a bronze medal, and was considered by some to be a lock for the second or third goaltending position on the U-20 team this year. Unfortunately, he was cut from the team on Thursday and will not be representing his country at the tournament this year.
Judging by when he was cut, Iilahti can be considered Finland's fourth-best goaltender under 20 years old. He's still only 18, so he would be eligible for next year's WJC, but this result must be considered something of a disappointment. Without a single Canucks prospect in the tournament and the Canucks unlikely to have a high first-round draft pick to select one of the interesting draft-eligible players, my interest in the World Juniors has dropped significantly. I'll still be watching and cheering for Canada, but it's disappointing not to have a Canuck-connection in the mix.
Canada's tournament starts at 1:00 pm Pacific on TSN against Russia.