By Warren Kozireski —
The 2020 IIHF Under-20 World Junior Championships begins the day after Christmas per usual and New Yorkers have many reasons to pay attention.
Many scouts and front office personnel judge the health of a team’s organization by how many draft picks dot the rosters of various World Junior squads.
A total of 15 players either from New York or with in-state team ties will be on TV over the 11 day tournament being held this year in the Czech Republic.
New York Islanders
Islanders fans will want to watch Team USA games with three 2018 draft prospects in Michigan State defenseman Christian Krygier, who was taken in the seventh round, Notre Dame forward Jacob Pivonka, a fourth-rounder, and first round selection Oliver Wahlstrom on loan from Bridgeport in the AHL.
New York Rangers
Rangers scouts will be the busiest with five prospects total including two on Team Sweden in defenseman Nils Lundkvist, their third first round draft choice two years ago and forward Karl Hendriksson from Frolunda. He was selected in the second round 58th overall in 2019.
Nico Gross will man the blueline for Team Switzerland after the fourth rounder has put up solid numbers in his third year with Oshawa in the OHL.
Two other Rangers futures will help man the Team USA defense in 2019 third-rounder Zac Jones, now with the University of Massachusetts, and 2018 first rounder K’Andre Miller with the University of Wisconsin.
Buffalo has three players to watch starting with Team Sweden goaltender Erik Portillo, who Buffalo selected in the third round this past June. He plays with Frolunda.
2019 first rounder Dylan Cozens is expected to see major minutes at forward for Team Canada. He has accrued 46 points in his first 30 games with Lethbridge in the WHL this fall.
Team Czech Republic features forward Matej Pekar, a Sabres fourth rounder two years ago now in his second campaign with Barrie in the OHL.
2018 second rounder and University of Western Michigan’s Mattias Samuelsson will be a main cog for Team USA’s defense.
And New York hockey fans in general will want to keep an eye on Team USA with four in-state raised prospects in Elmira native John Beecher, a late first rounder by Boston, North Dakota’s Shane Pinto (Franklin Square), taken by Ottawa in the second round, OHL Hamilton and Los Angles second rounder Arthur Kaliyev (Staten Island) and Boston University freshman and Anaheim first rounder Trevor Zegras from Bedford.