On Wednesday, several of the top under-20 players in the world will hit the ice in Ufa, Russia for the 2013 World Junior Championship.
The tournament features several NHL draft picks and some of the top prospects for the 2013 draft, including Plano native Seth Jones (USA) and Nathan MacKinnon (Canada), who both are considered strong contenders to be the No. 1 overall pick.
It’s one of the biggest tournaments of the year for NHL scouts, who can size up some of their own top prospects and get a look at others who are draft eligible.
Three Dallas Stars prospects – Brett Ritchie (Canada), Radek Faksa (Czech Republic), Emil Molin (Sweden) – are playing in this year’s tournament.
#20 Brett Ritchie, RW, Canada
Ritchie, the Stars’ second round pick (44th overall) in 2011, will be making his first World Junior Championship appearance. The 6-4, 218-pound right wing will bring size, physical presence and some scoring punch to the Canadian lineup. He suffered an upper body injury in an exhibition game last week, but is practicing and is expected to be ready for the tournament opener. Ritchie, who is expected to play a top six role, is tied for first in the Ontario Hockey League in goal scoring with 27 goals in 32 games for Niagara.
#16 Radek Faksa, C, Czech Republic
Faksa, Dallas’ first round pick (13th overall) in 2012, will be playing in his second World Junior Championship. He had two assists in six games for the Czechs at the 2012 tournament in Canada. Faksa, a solid two-way center, is expected to be a top six player for the Czechs. He’s had his ups and downs with Kitchener of the OHL this season due to some illness issues. He has 25 points (7 goals, 18 assists) in 29 games.
#29 Emil Molin, LW/C, Sweden
Molin, a fourth round pick (105th overall) by the Stars in 2011, will be playing in his first World Junior Championship. He was impressive in Sweden’s exhibition game against the USA, and could see top six minutes in the tournament. Molin, a skilled, creative forward, has split time between the Swedish Elite League and junior hockey this season. He has 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists) in 25 Elite League games with Byrnas, and 11 points (5 goals, 6 assists) in 12 junior games.
Group A: Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Latvia
Group B: Russia, Canada, Slovakia, United States, Germany
The teams will play a round-robin series within each group after which the top three teams in each group will advance to the playoff round. The top-seeded team from each group automatically advances to the semifinals. The second and third placed teams from each group will play a cross-over quarterfinal game, and the two winners advance to the semifinals. The winners of the semifinal games play for the gold medal and the losers of the semis play for the bronze.
Latvia vs. Finland, 1:30 a.m.
Germany vs. Canada, 3:30 a.m., NHL Network (Live & Replay at 5:00 p.m.)
Czech Republic vs. Sweden, 6:00 a.m.
Slovakia vs. Russia, 8:00 a.m. NHL Network (Live & Replay at 7:00 p.m.)