The 2022 World Juniors in Edmonton are picking up steam and the teams that are expected to contend just keep on winning, while the others are getting to be more scrappy and sneak out some overtime wins.
When it comes to the Minnesota Wild prospects though, some are just staying the normal course, cashing in some points here and there, and others are simply getting heralded as the next best thing.
Here’s some stuff from Day 2 of the World Juniors for the Wild youngsters:
Marat Khusnutdinov, Russia vs. Switzerland
Khusnutdinov once again was centering the top line for Russia against a weaker opponent in Switzerland, compared to the tournament-opener against Sweden. He was treated to yet another one-assist game coming from a goal from wonderkid Matvei Michkov.
While I was somewhat serious that it is going to be a treat for Michkov to get to play so much damn offense with the steadiness of Khusnutdinov as his center, the rewards are clearly coming in bunches. The kid already has three goals in two games and is not even old enough to vote.
And of course, Khusnutdinov made the zone entry on the goal.
Matvei Michkov scores, demonstrating his amazing timing and accuracy. 4-1 Russia .@DavidSt_Louis wrote about Michkov's highly tactical game.— Elite Prospects (@eliteprospects) December 27, 2021
The Wild prospect now has two assists in two games.
Pavel Novak, Czechia vs. Germany
After scoring a wonderful goal in the opener on Sunday, was able to round out a bit of his offense, assisting on the only goal Czechia was able to get against a German team that appears to now be a feel-good Cinderella story with their hard-nosed play and sick ass jerseys.
And while the assist was certainly not truly earned — since it was a fluke goal that bounced off a German defender’s skate and into the back of the net, far away from any direct play that Novak made — it’s still a point and he’s a point-per-game player right now.
Jesper Wallstedt, Sweden vs. Slovakia
This is the big one. Wallstedt is simply carrying Sweden solely on his back and is well-deserving of the early shouts for potential tournament MVP contention, let alone Goaltender of the Tournament. Against a Slovakian team that has been not really that hot to start, Wallstedt saved all 48 shots for a 3-0 shutout win.
He made it look easy too.
hahaha Jesper Wallstedt flashes the leather on Martin Chromiak (LAK) and just tosses the puck to the ice #mnwild #WorldJuniors pic.twitter.com/repsT47zgR— Spoked Z (@SpokedZ) December 28, 2021
The best part is, that his entire team recognizes how damn important he is if they are going to contend for one of the medals.
Swedish head coach Tomas Montén on Jesper Wallstedt (#MnWild), "He was terrific. If we're going to have a shot at this, he has to be an important component for us, and he really showed that today."— J.D. Burke (@JDylanBurke) December 28, 2021
Considering that he did this all while playing in his second game in the same number of days, is kind of bonkers. Wallstedt is one of those players where it feels right to hype up a goalie prospect. He has just excelled at the majority of the levels he’s playing at and this isn’t a guy that is just playing well against his fellow teenagers at this one-off tournament, he is playing against grown adults and some of the best hockey players in Europe, and playing very very very very well as an 18-year-old netminder.
The Wild have a good one on their hands and now he just gets more praise.
Tomorrow is a little bit of a softer schedule, but with some key guys playing. All times are in CST and games are available on NHL Network.
Switzerland vs. United States (Peart) - 3:30 PM
Austria vs. Canada (Lambos, O’Rourke) - 6:00 PM