Who could represent the New York Islanders at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship?
The hockey calendar might look bare but on Christmas day the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship will take place. Of the ten teams participating, the New York Islanders could have a few of their prospects represent their national team at the marquee tournament.
The tournament gets underway on Christmas Day with a few big games, like Russia vs USA at 9:30 Eastern. Here’s a look at what New York Islanders prospect could feature at the tournament.
Simon Holmstrom – Team Sweden
The Islanders first-round pick from 2019 has had an ok start to his 2020-21 season out in Sweden. On loan to Vita Hasten, Holmstrom has two points in eight games.
Starting on Thursday, Team Sweden and Team Finland will play a three-game tune-up series in Malmo. Simon Holmstrom was named as one of 21 players on the Swedish squad.
Holmstrom has typically done well when he wears the Three Crowns. In 2018-19 he put up four goals and eight points across ten games for his national team. His six points in eight U18 WJC games helped his team capture gold that year.
The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler expects Holmstrom to make Sweden’s squad (subscription required), playing on the team’s third line behind Red Wings prospect Lucas Raymond and Carolina prospect Noel Gunler.
Matias Rajaniemi – Team Finland
Matias Rajaniemi, a sixth-round pick at the 2020 draft by the Islanders, is heading to Malmo this week. Rajaniemi was named to Team Finland’s squad for the set of friendly games.
The 6’4″ blueliner has been a solid player for the Pelican’s who are now ranked fourth in the Finnish Liiga. As the season has progressed the young blueliner who just turned 18 in September has seen his ice time steadily increase.
He might not make the team for the tournament, Wheeler doesn’t see him making the team, even as an extra. But Team Finland is giving him a look-see for this tournament and maybe he surprises a few and makes the team. The fact that he’s even getting a try-out is impressive.
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That’s it. At best the Isles will have two representatives at 2021 WJC. Which speaks volumes of the Islanders prospect pool. It isn’t filled with a lot of top quality and is older. The Islanders only have seven players that would be eligible (under 20), five that I haven’t already named, and only one of those remaining five wasn’t drafted this year.
Here’s the list of eligible players with their age and their nationality (players in italics were drafted this year): Simon Holmstrom (19, Sweden), Samuel Bolduc (19, Canada), Reece Newkirk (19, Canada), Alexander Ljungkrantz (18, Sweden), Alex Jefferies (18, USA), William Dufour (18, Canada), and Matias Rajaniemi (18, Finland).