The 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship will begin in Edmonton, Alberta on Christmas Day and run to January 5, 2021. It will be the first bubble WJC ever played, and we can only hope it is the only bubble tournament to ever be played.
All tournament games, practices and preliminary tune-up matches will be held in Rogers Place, and the same practice facility used by the NHL for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The exhibition games run from December 20 to December 23.
All players will arrive by charter flight or by bus into Canada. Players will be tested for Coronavirus before they leave their current location, and upon arrival. The expectations is that daily testing will occur as was done for the NHL playoffs.
No fans will be in attendance for any games.
Ten teams are participating in the event this year, and there will be no relegation, since the lower tier events which produce the teams that get promoted up a level have all been cancelled.
The usual group structure will see Canada lead Group A and play against Finland, Switzerland, Slovakia and Germany.
Russia, Sweden, USA, Czech Republic and Austria make up the tougher-looking Group B.
Both groups will play in Edmonton, but they will only play the round robin within their group, and the usual crossover structure will pit the top four in each group against a team from the other group in the quarterfinals. The IIHF now uses a re-seeding formula for the semifinals, not a bracket system.
The gold medals will be awarded on January 5, 2021.
Players born in 2001 or earlier are eligible, so anyone already 20 is too old. The Maple Leafs should be sending a large group of players to Edmonton, from several countries.
Nick Robertson, not at the USA selection camp, but an obvious choice for the team, should be free to play. No other US prospects are potential picks for the team.
No Canadians in the Leafs system will be on the roster.
There are several Finns who are a lock or are at least possible on the team: Mikko Kokkonen, Topi Niemelä and Roni Hirvonen will all be considered. Axel Rindell is too old and Veeti Miettienen and Kalle Loponen have played in some international tournaments on the U20 team, but aren’t likely to be chosen.
The Leafs have no eligible Swedish prospects.
Two Russians are expected to make the team, led by Rodion Amirov. Mikhail Abramov has made a case to be considered when he hadn’t seen national team consideration in a couple of years spent in Canada. He did play in the Sochi Cup in Russia in the summer for the National Junior Team.
The Leafs have no eligible prospects from any other countries participating.
Important games for Leafs fans include Russia vs USA on Christmas Day at 7:30 p.m. Alberta time. Finland plays Canada on New Year’s Eve at 4 p.m. Alberta Time and Sweden plays USA the same night at 7:30 p.m.
The Quarterfinals are on January 2, the semifinals on January 5, and the two medal games are on January 5.