Evan Barratt, C (United States) – 2017 90th overall pick
One of the biggest surprises in the Blackhawks’ prospect pool, Evan Barratt is having a spectacular season at Penn State. He’s leading the NCAA in scoring with 29 points in 17 games and is currently one of the favorites to win the Hobey Baker Award, given to the top college hockey player each season.
The puck-handling skills Barratt has are seriously impressive. He scores a highlight-reel goal at least once a week for the Nittany Lions. His on-ice vision makes his unreal goals and ridiculous passes happen. He’s a flashy player and Blackhawks fans may see a little bit of Patrick Kane in him.
Barratt did not play for Team USA at last year’s U20 tournament, but he was a star in the US National Team Development Program. He recorded six points in seven games at the U18 World Juniors and won a gold medal with the US.
The forward will most likely center the second line for the United States. Don’t be surprised if Barratt ends up being a breakout star for the Americans and takes his game to another level. This tournament will give him a chance to really show what he’s made of with other elite talent surrounding him.
Jakub Galvas, D (Czech Republic) – 2017 150th overall pick
Much like the other defensemen the Chicago Blackhawks have drafted, Jakub Galvas is a smaller guy who skates smoothly and moves the puck really well. This will be his second trip to the U20 World Junior Championships with the Czech Republic.
Galvas can be effective all over the ice. He’s not well known for being strong offensively or defensively, but he’s put up points in the Czech League with HC Olomouc. In his first full season as an 18-year-old, he recorded 13 points (2 G, 11 A) in 42 games and five points in nine playoff games. So far, he has 10 points in 28 games. For a younger defenseman, those are quite impressive numbers in a men’s league.
The 19-year-old had two assists for his home country in last year’s U20 World Juniors. With his puck-moving abilities, he should be able to produce more as a veteran on the Czech Republic’s roster. His team will rely on him to rack up heavy minutes and play on both special teams units.
Despite being one of the lower-end prospects at this tournament, Galvas could be an interesting prospect for Blackhawks fans to watch. He has the chance to be a solid top-four defenseman in the future and with a bunch of blueliners in Chicago’s system, this tournament could seriously determine where he ranks among the others.
Philipp Kurashev, C (Switzerland) – 2018 120th overall pick
This speedy Swiss forward is fantastic no matter where he plays. Philipp Kurashev is playing at a pace of 1.3 points per game in the QMJHL. In last year’s U20 World Juniors, he recorded three points in five games.
Kurashev’s speed is extremely impressive. His ability to accelerate directly out of his initial step gives him a ton of breakaway opportunities. He utilizes his edges to side-step defensemen on the rush and drive towards the net. It’s difficult for opposing players to knock him off the puck because his balance is so good.
An alternate captain for Switzerland, Kurashev will be a very important member of this team. He can be a dominant force on the ice for his home country, but it won’t be the opposing teams deciding that. He has to put the effort in himself because he has the skills to be a top-six forward.
Sometimes, Kurashev looks to be the best player on the ice. Other times, he’s invisible. Blackhawks fans don’t want to see another Nick Schmaltz type of player. Let’s hope we see the strong play of Kurashev instead of the other side of him.
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This will be one of the most entertaining series of hockey games for Chicago Blackhawks fans this season, so try not to miss out on too many games. Not only will the World Juniors take your mind away from the terrible year the Blackhawks are having, but this tournament will give you hope for the future.
Games will be broadcasted on NHL Network in the United States and TSN in Canada. Root for your home country and enjoy the fun!