Be on the lookout: World Junior Championships

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After three games at the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championships, I have compiled a list of six players from six different teams for you to watch at the tournament and get familiar with.

Team: SWEDEN

Player to watch -- Magnus Paajarvi Svensson

Why – Paajarvi, the 10th overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft tore up the 2009 World Junior Championships and is the Edmonton Oilers top prospect.

Viewed by many, including myself, as a mix of fellow countrymen Marcus Naslund and Peter Forsberg, Paajarvi is a sick offensive talent with speed to burn.

He has five points in two tournament games thus far and is the stereo-typical explosive, skilled Swede. He can dangle through defenders or blow by them with tremendous speed.

Team: USA

Player to watch – John Carlson

Why – The 27th overall pick in ’08 currently leads the AHL's Hershey Bears (the Washington Capitals affiliate) in assists, with 23, as a 19-year old.

What’s more impressive is that he is the leading assist getter on a team that is stacked with talent. Carlson can play both ends of the ice and had a goal and assist in first team USA game. He was a plus-17 for the Bears before he left for the World Juniors.

Every team in the Tournament has forwards who can put up points, but Carlson is the complete package. He puts up points and can shut down the opposition.

Last year for the London Knights of the OHL he recorded 76 points in 59 games – as a defenseman.

Team: RUSSIA

Player to watch - Kirill Petrov

The big, skilled Russian forward recorded three points in first game in Saskatoon this year.

Petrov was a third round pick by the Islanders in 2008 and is the third ranked prospect in the Islander organization behind John Tavares and Calvin de Haan .

The 6’3” 200-pound native of Kaza is a rare mix of speed, strength and size. Much like Bobby Ryan in Anaheim who is 6’3" and over 200 pounds

Interesting enough, Petrov was the NHL Central Scouting's No. 2-rated European skater, but he slipped due to issues surrounding the lack of a transfer agreement with the IIHF and also has 2 yrs left on Russian contract.

If not not for the agreement, Petrov would have had his name called early in the 2008 draft.

Team: CANADA

Player to watch: Taylor Hall

There are so many kids to pick from on this Canadian roster, but for me it’s Taylor Hall.

Hall will be the top pick in the 2010 draft, he is the ultimate threat, can do anything in the offensive zone and will fit perfectly in the new NHL.

The Windsor Spitfire has been torching the OHL and putting up impressive numbers along the way.

In 185 career Major Junior games, Hall has 127 goals and 147 assists for a staggering 274 points.

Hall will thrive in the new NHL and in my opinion, can be compared to the likes of Phil Kessel, Patrick Kane and Zach Parise.

Team: CZECH REPUBLIC

Player to watch: Tomas Knotek

The two-way Czech winger plays juniors for the Halifax Mooseheads, where he is the captain of the team.

Last year as a 17-year old, Knotek put up 66 points in 69 games, scoring 22 goals. He is a smooth-skating playmaker who can make great passes.

This season for Halifax in the QMJHL, he has 49 points in 52 games and will be competing in the World Juniors for his second year. Last season on the top-line for the Czech team, he recorded had five points in six games.

He was born in the city of Kladno, a place NHL fans may be familiar with. Michael Frolik, Jiri Tlusty, Jakub Voracek, Ondrej Pavalec, Tomas Plekanec and Jaromir Jagr all call Kladno home.

He is 2010 NHL Draft Eligible.

Team SLOVAKIA:

Player to watch: Tomas Tatar

The Red Wings 60th overall pick last season was a standout star in the 2009 World Juniors recording 11 points in just seven games

Entering the draft, Tatar was the 14th ranked European skater, and rightfully so.

He impressed the Red Wings so much, he earned a spot out of training camp to play in the AHL and signed a three-year contract with them.

Tatar is on the fast track to the NHL. He is currently playing in Grand Rapids where he has 17 points in 22 games.

Tatar is turning out to be another late round gem for the Detroit Red Wings.

I will be leaving for the Winter Classic on Wednesday and will have a story or two from there. Also, my Flyers Fans React with Shane Davis will be posted this evening.

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