The 2022 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship kicks off on Dec. 26 in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta. That leaves just under six weeks for players to showcase their talent and prove why they should represent their country at this prestigious tournament.
The Winnipeg Jets’ prospect pool includes six players from four different countries who are all eligible to compete at the World Juniors. A few of them have a legit shot, and I’m going to break down who they are.
Cole Perfetti, Team Canada
There is still some uncertainty whether Cole Perfetti will be loaned to Team Canada. However, he would be an excellent addition to an already stacked roster. He’s among the few players who could return from the team that captured silver last year when the United States beat them in a gold-medal thriller. During the 2021 World Juniors, Perfetti scored six points (two goals, four assists) in seven games. In the summer, he again represented Canada on the international stage at the World Championships in Latvia, where he recorded two goals and won the gold medal.
Perfetti has six points (three goals, three assists) in 10 games this season for the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League (AHL). While he is off to a relatively good start with the Moose, I’m sure Hockey Canada would be happy to add him to their roster.
Nikita Chibrikov, Team Russia
Russian-winger Nikita Chibrikov was a star during the 2021 IIHF Under-18 World Junior Hockey Championships, scoring 13 points in seven games (four goals, nine assists). Before that, Chibrikov represented Russia on the international stage multiple times, including at the under-13 tournament in 2015-16. The Jets selected him 50th overall in the 2021 NHL Draft, and he has already established himself as one of their top prospects.
The Moscow product plays for SKA-Neva St. Petersburg in the Supreme Hockey League (VHL) and has amassed 16 points (nine goals, seven assists) in 14 games – a hot start to his season. Chibrikov will be one of many top-Russian forwards to keep your eyes on throughout the tournament.
Chaz Lucius, Team USA
The University of Minnesota’s Chaz Lucius could be one of the top forwards at center for the Americans. Lucius was selected 18th overall in the 2021 NHL Draft and has been successful with Team USA at the international level. He competed in the under-17 World Hockey Championships (WHC-17) in 2019-20, registering 10 points (seven goals, three assists) in 10 games, and won a silver medal. He led the tournament in goals and points.
Lucius is playing for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers in the NCAA, where he has three points (one goal, two assists) in six games. Adding the high-octane center to the American roster would be great.
Daniel Torgersson, Team Sweden
Sweden will be a team to watch at the World Juniors as they are packed with talent. Daniel Torgersson, the Jets’ 2020 second-round pick, should be part of this group. He is a 19-year-old, 6-foot-3 winger who has played for Sweden on the international stage in recent years, including a trip to the WHC-17 tournament, where he contributed an assist. Torgersson suited up for Team Sweden again in 2019-20 at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, where he finished with three points in five games (two goals, one assist). He was also selected to represent his country at the under-20 4-Nations Cup this past month, where he played alongside others likely to be selected for the World Junior team.
This season, Torgersson has been playing with AIK in the HockeyAllsvenskan League where he has two goals in 12 games. He was recently called up to Frolunda in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) and has played one game so far. He could be relied on heavily throughout the tournament.
With these players, Jets fans will be able to sit back and watch some of their favourite prospects compete in one of the biggest tournaments in hockey come Boxing Day.
Born and raised in Kamloops B.C. and a die hard fan of the Kamloops Blazers, hockey has always been apart of my life. Now, I am looking to get into the sports media world and make it a career. I will be covering the Winnipeg Jets and St. Louis Blues for The Hockey Writers. Follow along on Twitter @itscrdavies for more hockey content!