Is there any better tradition in hockey than the World Junior Championship around New Years August every winter summer?

Here’s the details you need to know.

What Maple Leafs prospects are playing?

Topi Niemelä and Roni Hirvonen are returning for team Finland, and Matthew Knies is again playing for Team USA. All three are likely to play top roles.

Niemelä is Finland’s best defenseman and will likely play a lot of minutes in all situations: the top pair at even strength, the penalty kill, and the power play. Hirvonen has been a top line winger for Finland for two years by now, and he’ll be playing there again with Aatu Räty and Joakim Kemell. Hirvonen has had great chemistry with Räty, and will be looked on to be one of their primary goal scoring threats at even strength and on the powerplay.

Matthew Knies will likely play a lot of time on the second line with top prospects (and fellow Minnesota Gopher in the NCAA) Logan Cooley and Matt Coronato. I can see the USA playing around with their lineup a lot more than Finland will. While they were used as the “second line” in their warm up games, they could be used pretty evenly with the top line at even strength. I don’t think Knies will get top powerplay minutes unless he’s used as the net front guy, but he’ll at least be on the second unit.

When do Finland and USA play?

Here is Finland’s schedule in the round robin if you want to watch Niemelä and Hirvonen — all games will be on TSN:

  • August 9th at 6:00 pm EST vs Latvia
  • August 11th at 2:00 pm EST vs Czechia
  • August 14th at 2:00 pm EST vs Slovakia
  • August 15th at 6:00 pm EST vs Canada /

Here is Team USA’s schedule — they’re in the other group, so they won’t play Finland unless they meet in the playoffs:

  • August 9th at 10:00 pm EST vs Germany
  • August 11th at 10:00 pm EST vs Switzerland
  • August 13th at 2:00 pm EST vs Austria
  • August 14th at 10:00 pm EST vs Sweden/

So... just from looking at those schedules, Finland has a much tougher group to fight through than the Americans. Czechia and Slovakia both will have pretty strong teams, and then there’s Canada. Team USA should finish no worse than second in their group, with Sweden as the only real threat.


As you may have guessed from the ancillary articles Katya has been putting out last week, the Top 25 Under 25 final votes and profiles will be starting this week. This week we’ll be publishing a couple of other related posts, and later in the week we’ll start revealing the 25th and 24th ranked players.

Stay tuned for more!

Back to Excited Episode 183: Around the NHL (Part 1) | by Fulemin and Arvind

Adam Gaudette could provide a lot of value to the Maple Leafs if everything works out | by TLN

Canada beats Sweden to claim gold in Hlinka Gretzky Cup | by Sportsnet

Jets, Appleton avoid arbitration with three-year deal | by TSN

McKenna: What it’s like to be a free agent waiting for a deal in August | by Daily Faceoff

Hopefully the first of many resignations from the Hockey Canada executives.

It’s good to see Amirov looking healthy and happy and working out with his KHL team.

Have a great Monday everyone!