Four Maple Leafs prospects will be in action at the 2017 World Junior Championships.

2017 World Junior Hockey Championships Schedule


Monday, Dec. 26

Prelim - A1:00 ETCentre BellSwedenvs.Denmark
Prelim - B3:30 ETAir Canada CentreUnited Statesvs.Latvia
Prelim - A5:00 ETCentre BellCzech Republicvs.Finland
Prelim - B8:00 ETAir Canada CentreCanadavs.Russia

Tuesday, Dec. 27

Prelim - A1:00 ETCentre BellCzech Republicvs.Switzerland
Prelim - B4:00 ETAir Canada CentreLatviavs.Russia
Prelim - A5:30 ETCentre BellDenmarkvs.Finland
Prelim - B8:00 ETAir Canada CentreCanadavs.Slovakia

Wednesday, Dec. 28

Prelim - A5:00 ETCentre BellSwitzerlandvs.Sweden
Prelim - B7:30 ETAir Canada CentreSlovakiavs.United States

Thursday, Dec. 29

Prelim - A1:00 ETCentre BellDenmarkvs.Czech Republic
Prelim - B3:30 ETAir Canada CentreRussiavs.United States
Prelim - A5:30 ETCentre BellFinlandvs.Sweden
Prelim - B8:00 ETAir Canada CentreLatviavs.Canada

Friday, Dec. 30

Prelim - A5:00 ETCentre BellSwitzerlandvs.Denmark
Prelim - B7:30 ETAir Canada CentreSlovakiavs.Latvia

Saturday, Dec. 31

Prelim - A1:00 ETCentre BellSwedenvs.Czech Republic
Prelim - B3:30 ETAir Canada CentreCanadavs.United States
Prelim - A5:30 ETCentre BellFinlandvs.Switzerland
Prelim - B8:00 ETAir Canada CentreRussiavs.Slovakia

Monday, Jan. 2

Quarterfinal1:00 ETAir Canada Centre
Quarterfinal3:30 ETCentre Bell
Quarterfinal5:30 ETAir Canada Centre
Quarterfinal8:00 ETCentre Bell

Wednesday, Jan. 4

Semifinal3:00 ETCentre Bell
Semifinal7:30 ETCentre Bell

Thursday, Jan. 5

Bronze Medal Game3:30 ETCentre Bell
Gold Medal Game8:00 ETCentre Bell

Toronto Maple Leafs Prospects In Action

Carl Grundstrom – This will be Grundstrom’s second World Juniors, having participated in the 2016 tournament in Finland in his draft year (he chipped in one goal over seven games en route to a fourth-place finish for Sweden). The 2016 second round pick has made significant strides in his second season in top-flight Swedish hockey, scoring 11 goals in 27 games for Frolunda HC. That places him tied for third in the entire SHL in goal scoring as a freshly turned 19-year-old (December 1 birthdate), and first among Swedish U20s.

Solidly built at 6’0 and around 200 pounds, Grundstrom is an aggressive forechecker who is more than willing to go to the dirty areas of the ice. An effective grind game paired with a good shot has turned the left-winger into a real threat offensively in the SHL. This will be Grundstrom’s first experience of note on North American ice, but theoretically his style of play should transfer nicely overseas. Considered a capable penalty killer, Grundstrom should play in all situations for Sweden.

Jeremy Bracco – Controversially snubbed by USA Hockey in the final cuts before last year’s selection camp, Bracco has more of a fan in current U.S. coach Bob Motzko than he did in former coach Ron Wilson and will be part of a deep American forward group this time around. The USNTDP’s all-time assists leader has put together a big plus-two season in the OHL thus far, currently sitting fourth in the league in points-per-game and second in assists-per-game. Maple Leafs Director of Player Personnel Mark Hunter suggested that the organization wants to see their 2015 second round pick evolve into more of a dominant player at 5v5 in addition to his powerplay prowess. Bracco’s hands, vision and unique skating stride make him a compelling player to watch and the Leafs are hopeful he can be a difference maker in this tournament.

MLHS caught up with Kitchener Rangers head coach Jay McKee recently to discuss the details of Bracco’s game and his development as a player.

Joseph Woll – One of three goaltenders on the Team USA roster in addition to Tyler Parsons (London Knights) and Jake Oettinger (Boston University), the six-foot-four Woll had big shoes to fill in replacing Thatcher Demko at Boston College this season. The 2016 third round pick is off to a pretty good start to his NCAA career with a 10-6-1 record and a .917 save percentage through 17 games. A “true freshman,” Woll won’t turn 19 until July.

MLHS chatted with Danton Cole of the US National Team Development program in the summer to get a sense of Woll’s game:

What kind of goalie is Joseph Woll?

Cole: He’s 6’3, probably 200 or 210, or around there somewhere. He’s got almost the perfect size for what you’re looking for right now. Joe is extremely athletic. He’s probably one of the best athletes on our team in terms of strength and conditioning. I think he showed that at the combine and tested out really well. The other day there was three or four times during a drill or a scrimmage or a live play where he’d make a save where you go, “wow, that kid shouldn’t have made that save.” He got from point A to point B so quick. He’s probably one of the most athletic and quickest guys that I’ve had. I think John Gibson was certainly that way when he was here as well as Thatcher Demko. Some of the same types of reactions in practice and the work ethic. I think technically Joe plays a pretty sound game. I think he relies on that more than his athleticism. I think the blend of that is what he’s working on in terms of, “hey, I can be technical and I have the athleticism.” Over the two years, he got a lot better and he was outstanding for us all year.

What sort of style does he play? Is he more of a North American goalie or is he more of a Finnish guy with his hands forward and moving his feet actively?

Cole: More North American by that description. He’s probably fairly similar to a lot of what we see in terms of being a big guy and being out and not giving up a whole lot of holes in that sense. I think the thing that ends up separating guys is their athleticism and then their hockey sense. They’ve got to put themselves in those positions. He came a long way. Kevin Reiter does a great job with our goalies. He did a lot of work with Joe. Like I said, he was really outstanding for us all year.

London’s Tyler Parsons, who backstopped the Knights throughout their 2016 Memorial Cup championship season, figures to start today’s opener against Latvia, but Woll will serve as the backup and should get a start at some point in the group stage.

Martin Dzierkals – Latvia is returning to the World Junior tournament after winning the Div. I title in Austria last December. As a proven producer in the QMJHL, Dzierkals has experience on North American ice – including on junior hockey’s biggest stage in the Memorial Cup last Spring – and will be therefore be looked to as Latvia’s leader offensively. His points pace with Rouyn-Noranda this season is similar to last year (27 points in 22 games after 67 in 59 last season), but his goal-scoring form has improved with 12 goals in 22 games. Mark Hunter told The Star’s Kevin McGran: “He’ll be their catalyst. For them to be successful, he has to get it done. He plays a fast game, which should be good for this tournament.” Team Latvia will get a baptism by fire right away with games  against Team USA and Team Russia on back-to-back days to open the tournament.