Checking in on Detroit Red Wings prospects at the World Junior Championships

There are five Detroit Red Wings prospects at the World Junior Championships, and here is how they're performing.


It's that time of year again: World Junior Championships. It's when the best young players from around the world come and represent their countries. Not only that, it's when many NHL fans, or in this case, Red Wings fans, get to see their prospects in action against the best of the best in their age group.

This year, Red Wings fans get a chance to look at Nate Danielson, Trey Augustine, Axel Sandin Pellikka, Anton Johansson, and Kevin Bicker in action. It's a solid selection for Red Wings fans, as we'll get a look at prospects from each position: forward, goaltender, and defense. Considering that four of the names listed were picks from this year's draft, this will be a much-welcome viewing of new prospects in our system.

So we're all caught up; the preliminary round is over. The elimination rounds are set, and each team has played four games. So, the performance results that will be given are comparable. Also, if you were interested, each of our prospects, minus Kevin Bicker, who plays for Germany, have advanced to the elimination rounds. So, we will not see more of Bicker in the tournament, we'll get a bit more of the other four.

Finally, don't put too much stock into this tournament. It's a short tournament that doesn't fully display how a prospect has been developing. While it is a fun showcase of their talent if a prospect underperforms, it doesn't mean things are going poorly for their development, and if a prospect overperforms, it doesn't mean they're on track for the NHL. It's just a week-and-a-half showcase; take performances with a grain of salt and follow the schools or clubs they play with for a better understanding of their development. That being said, there are things to be cautiously excited about from the tournament.

Detroit Red Wings prospects are performing well at the World Junior Championship.

Starting with Sweden, since two Red Wings prospects are playing for them, we have Axel Sandin Pellikka and Anton Johansson, both defenders. Johansson has zero points in his four games. I wouldn't be too concerned; once again, you should never read too much into a performance at the World Junior Championships. What is more concerning is the sharp drop in usage after the second game. In the first two games, he was getting top-line minutes, and in game three, he was barely used more than a minute, and in the fourth game, he only had almost five minutes. I don't know the reasoning for this move, but it is a bit concerning.

Moving on to his teammate, this year's #17 overall pick, Sandin Pellikka, it's been quite the opposite. He's been trending upwards during the tournament, starting with second-line minutes (17) and in the final game, ending with 24 minutes. In four games, he has two assists and no goals (half-point-per-game is what he's averaging with his club in the SHL as well, so his performance is on par with what's expected). He's been defensively responsible as well during the tournament, showcasing his skills as a two-way player from the blue line. Overall, it was a solid tournament for the much-hyped Red Wings pick.

Kevin Bicker is the next one to discuss. If you don't recognize his name, he's a forward who was taken in the fifth round in this year's draft out of Germany. He's a bit more of an unknown quantity due to having little playing time with his DEL club, so this is many Red Wings fans' first taste of his game. While I could not watch the games, in the clips I saw, he seemed to have a strong net-front presence in the clips I saw and is a better playmaker than expected. He had two assists in his four games. He's another Red Wings prospect rewarded with more playing time as the tournament continued.

Now, we get to the performance that has Red Wings fans the most excited: Trey Augustine, goaltender for the USA. He started in two games, only allowed in three goals and had a save percentage of 95.24% overall. On the IIHF website, he is listed as having the second-best save percentage and Goals Against Average in the tournament.

Finally, we have this year's #9 overall pick, Nate Danielson. In four games, mostly playing on the fourth line and getting little-to-none power play opportunities, he had three points. Two were assists and one was a goal. But he delivered when given the chance to show his offensive prowess. He was mainly used for his defense, shutting down other teams, especially in the penalty kill. That said, he was named "Player of the Game" for Canada in their first tournament match against Finland for having a goal and an assist, in addition to his stellar defensive play. He showed exactly why he was taken so high in the draft: elite defense and playmaking, with a decent shooting ability.

In the end, it was a mostly solid showing for Red Wings prospects in the exhibition round. Most were awarded more playing time as the tournament continued and took advantage of opportunities. Then, there's Augustine's performance, clearly the highlight for good reason, by Red Wings fans, where he showed the elite talent he has displayed this season at Michigan State University. The future is bright, and while this tournament shouldn't be the reason you're excited about our prospects, it has been a fun reminder of why we are excited about these prospects.

Next. Looking at Patrick Kane's performance with the Red Wings so far. Looking at Patrick Kane's performance with the Red Wings so far. dark