After an exciting conclusion to the 2018 World Junior Championships with Team Canada reclaiming the gold in a tense final game against Team Sweden, it’s time to look at some of its participants’ best performances.
While their teams didn’t take the gold, Martin Necas, Kieffer Bellows, and Klim Kostin deserve much praise for their World Junior Championship performances.
Necas’ Czech squad did make the bronze medal game largely due to his three-goal, eight-assist performance. The Carolina prospect set up five of teammate Filip Zadina’s seven goals and potted a goal and two assists in their quarterfinal victory facing Finland.
Turning age 19 in the next few weeks, Necas proved the scouts right by displaying deft passing skills even in heavy traffic, employing quick skates and an impressive ability to deke a variety of international defenders.
The Hurricanes should feel good that they made him the 12th overall selection in late June’s NHL Entry Draft.
With Casey Mittelstadt setting the ice on fire tying Necas for top in the tourney with 11 points, his US teammate Kieffer Bellows may not have garnered the attention he deserves.
Breaking Jeremy Roenick’s record for goals tallied by a US-born player in a single WJC tournament, nine of Bellows’ ten points came via the goal route.
For his efforts, Bellows joined forwards Mittelstadt and Zadina, defensemen Cale Makar and Rasmus Dahlin, and goaltender Filip Gustavsson on the 2018 World Junior Championship All-Tournament Team.
A 2016 first round selection of the New York Islanders, the scrappy and versatile Bellows was additionally a key figure in last year’s tournament, landing two goals in their gold-winning championship game.
He now returns to the Portland Winterhawks, with whom he’s torching the Western Hockey League in his rookie junior campaign totaling 19 goals and 21 assists in 31 contests.
The St. Louis Blues should be very pleased about their prospects’ WJC performances.
Although their left-wing draftee Jordan Kyrou registered the most points of any Team Canada skater (3 G, 7 A) en route to gold, and Robert Thomas dished five assists to go with a goal, also for the champs, Russian power forward Klim Kostin may have outdone both.
Exerting his bruising presence near opposing creases, Kostin led Team Russia with eight points (5 G, 3 A) in five contests, including two goals in their preliminary 5-2 win against Belarus.
His totals are even more impressive when considering that final round participants Canada, Sweden, USA, and the Czech Republic, with nearly all the top tournament scorers, each played two more contests than Russia.
Sidelined with an injury during most of his draft year, Kostin was picked later in the 2017 Entry Draft (final first-round selection) than his talent warranted.
As the second youngest player in the American Hockey League, Kostin will resume play with the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage, for whom he’s tallied two goals, nine assists, and 47 penalty minutes in 27 games in 2017-18.