Pool B Observations: Edvinsson, Niederbach, Mazur, Savage

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The Detroit Red Wings have a sizable contingency of prospects in the World Junior Championships and a good number of them made some noise in the opening day of the tournament, especially Simon Edvinsson. Here’s a breakdown of how Red Wings prospects on team USA and Sweden fared.

Sweden 6 Russia 3

All Red Wings fans eyes were on Simon Edvinsson, right? It’s almost as if he knew it. Edvinsson continued to do what he’s been doing in the SHL and he was a one-man wrecking crew, especially on the short handed goal on a scoring chance that he started–and finished.

The more I watch Edvinsson play, the more I feel like I did with Moritz Seider while he played first in Mannheim after he was drafted and then with Rogle: he just keeps getting better with each game and rising to the occasion.

Edvinsson also notched two assists, and also had a hand in starting the rush that led to Theodor Niederbach’s first goal of the tournament. Edvinsson was deep in his zone, bounced the puck off the boards, moved up the ice, had the puck returned to him, to which he sent a quick pass to Niederbach who finished off the rush with a goal.

Before the Red Wings took Edvinsson in the draft, there was a lot of debate as to who just Detroit would take. Would it be a forward like Mason McTavish or Kent Johnson, if they fell to them? Or would Steve Yzerman go back to the blue line, either with Edvinsson or Luke Hughes? While Alex wrote earlier that he pegged Edvinsson as the second best defenseman in the draft after Owen Power, I had this to say as to why Yzerman would take Edvinsson over Hughes:

Should Yzerman choose between one of the two, I would lean Edvinsson in that reading about him and viewing his highlights reminds me of watching Seider after Yzerman told wary fans to “google him.” The Frolunda connection–a spot the Red Wings obviously trust–seems another clincher. This isn’t to say Hughes isn’t better or not as good–I honestly believe it to be a toss up. But if both defensemen are available at sixth overall, I would expect to see Yzerman select the 18-year-old Swede who seems to fit what he’s building best.

That was all on display Sunday afternoon, and should give hope to Red Wings fans that the rebuild is morphing into a build-up. Sweden plays again tomorrow night.

USA 3 Slovakia 2

That was a lot closer than it needed to be. The United States let up a bit and Slovakia made it interesting in the end. The US fiddled a bit in its game against Finland and it struggled again to put the game away without any close moments. It’s very likely they’re shaking off rust, but it was an interesting way to start the tournament.

Red Wings prospects Red Savage and Carter Mazur both were noticeable at points in the game, Mazur getting whistled for a penalty late in the first on a bone crunching hit that was apparently just a little too late for the ref’s taste.

Slovakia is a very good team, and it’s not to take anything away from its performance. But the United States certainly made a comfortable lead a little too close for comfort in the final period.

The US plays again on Tuesday afternoon.

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