As the World Junior Championship inches closer, I am really looking forward to a few player match ups. One is, Jakub Voracek of the Czech Republic vs. Kyle Turris of Canada. To me, Voracek is, and I think will be the best player in the tournament. Will he turn out to be the best player of all time, when compared to those who will lace them up starting Boxing Day? Probably not. But for this tournament, I consider him the best right now. Sure he was drafted 4 spots behind Turris, but he was still taken 7th overall, and very easily could have went 6th to the Oilers. What I think gives the Halifax Moosehead forward the edge over Turris right now, is where he's playing. Voracek, in my opinion is facing better competition than Turris is in Wisconsin of the NCAA. He's playing in a more physical league, and playing more often. He has a ridiculous 50 points in 25 games, compared to Turris' totals of 19 points in 16 games, of which 11 came in 3 early season games. Don't get me wrong, Turris is a phenomenal talent, but I think he missed the boat by not taking the offer from the Vancouver Giants last year or this season. Now, I'm not saying by playing NCAA that Turris won't develop into a great player (I still see him in a Coyote uniform next year) but I think he would have been farther ahead of the game playing under Don Hay in Vancouver. I also think Voracek will get a boost from playing at home and could lead the Czechs to a podium finish.
The other match up I'm drooling over is Victor Hedmen Vs. John Tavares. For so long we've heard about Tavares and his buckets of talent. Sure inside the offensive zone he's like Jimmy Walker from Good Times used to say, Dynamite. But to be that good you have to get there, and Tavares isn't a great skater, which might hurt him on the big ice. There are some inside the hockey world who have told me, if they had the first overall pick in 2 years, Victor Hedman would be their selection and not Tavares. Hedman is 6 foot 5 and 210 pounds, and playing a regular shift in the Swedish Elite league right now. I have been told by one hockey insider that he's better than Chris Pronger was at the same age. If that's the case, than I can't see many teams taking Tavares instead of the Swede first overall.
When Canada takes on Sweden, this will be a match up that will get plenty of attention, so you'll be able to judge for yourself.
Enjoy the tournament...it really is the most wonderful time of the year.
Happy Holidays to all.