After last year’s World Junior Championship (WJC) which saw the Detroit Red Wings only have one prospect representing their country (Red Savage), they have five for the 2024 WJC. The tournament’s preliminary round has concluded with the quarterfinals starting on Jan. 2, so how have the Red Wings’ prospects performed so far?
Trey Augustine, United States
Coming into this year’s tournament, the United States were considered by many as one of, if not the front-runners to win the gold medal thanks in large part to a star-studded lineup. But, the unsung hero through four games could very well be the Red Wings’ second-round pick in 2023, goalie Trey Augustine.
As a returnee from last year’s team, Augustine has looked every bit of the role as the team’s go-to netminder. In their opening game on Dec. 26 against Norway, he stood tall in the net through the first period as the offense struggled to get itself going. Even after they finally got themselves on track throughout the second and third periods, Augustine continued to be rock solid in net and stopped 22 of the 23 shots he faced in the 4-1 victory.
He was unable to play in his next expected start on Dec. 29 against Czechia due to sickness but did return between the pipes for the Americans in their matchup against Slovakia on Dec. 31. Even though the offense put up 10 goals, he once again was one of the unsung heroes of the game. He continued to make some big-time saves throughout the game and kept the Slovak offense at bay, stopping 38 of the 40 total shots he faced.
As the United States gets ready for a hopefully deep run to a gold medal, Augustine will be a key factor to that hope becoming a reality and is a player for many to keep an eye on the rest of the way.
Kevin Bicker, Germany
The Red Wings’ fifth-round pick from the 2023 Draft has played solid for Team Germany through the tournament’s first four games. Even though Kevin Bicker did not find himself on the stat sheet goal-wise, he has made his presence felt on the ice as a major net-front presence on the power play for the Germans. His net-front play helped lead the team to three powerplay goals against Team Canada on Dec. 31.
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His knack for being around the play in the offensive zone has led to him getting on the scoresheet twice throughout the four games that Germany played in the prelims with two assists. While the numbers do not jump off the screen, Bicker has looked like one of the German’s top forwards in the tournament with his play.
Nate Danielson, Canada
After showcasing his game in the preseason with the Red Wings, Nate Danielson was a player that many Red Wings fans looked forward to seeing play in the WJC for Team Canada (from “Red Wings impressed by Nate Danielson’s poise in first NHL camp, preseason,” mlive.com, Oct. 5, 2023). He did not disappoint to start the tournament, having scored Team Canada’s opening goal when he scored against Finland in the first period on Dec. 26. His strong play continued the rest of the first game, tallying an assist while helping Canada to a 5-2 victory. His strong two-way play led to him earning player of the game in the win.
Statistically, the opening game was the highlight of Danielson’s preliminary round but his overall play was one of the most solid and consistent among Team Canada’s forward group. His playmaking abilities have been on display, helping set up several chances for other teammates. While playing on the third line for the team, he has made the most out of it and has performed well through four games. Being a depth guy on a team looking for a deep run into the medal rounds, he has a chance to play an important role for the Canadians for the rest of the tournament if given the chance.
Anton Johansson, Sweden
Out of the five prospects that the Red Wings have in the tournament, 2022 fourth-round pick Anton Johansson may be the one who has “disappointed” the most of all of them. While playing in all four of Sweden’s preliminary round games, he recorded zero points while progressively seeing his usage on the ice diminish to the point that he only played just shy of five minutes in the team’s matchup against Finland on Dec. 31.
Axel Sandin Pellikka, Sweden
Probably the prospect that many have been looking forward to watching the most thanks in large part to his start in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL), Axel Sandin Pelikka has had a solid start to the tournament. Even though he has not gotten in on the scoring for Team Sweden yet, he has not been missing in the offensive zone. Through four games, he has 12 total shots on net and is likely due for one to finally go in.
Defensively, he has looked like one of Sweden’s best defensemen so far and has also been toward the top of the team’s time-on-ice leaders as well. He is yet another player who will play a key role for their team as the knock-out rounds begin.
- All quarterfinal games are on Jan. 2.
- Danielson and the Canadians will take on a tough Czechia team.
- Augustine will look to help backstop the Americans to a victory over Latvia.
- Pellikka, Johansson, and the host country Swedes look to get past Switzerland.