With this year’s edition of the IHHF World Junior Championships underway, Hurricanes fans are likely to have their eye on one player in particular: top prospect Martin Necas, who will captain the Czech Republic team.
Since being sent down to the AHL, Necas has torn it up for the Charlotte Checkers, with seven goals and 22 points in 26 games. That, along with his eight total games for the Hurricanes over the past two seasons, puts Necas in a unique position of going to the World Juniors with a good bit of NHL and AHL experience.
What does that mean for his potential performance at the tournament? Let’s look at how players with NHL/AHL experience in the last two World Juniors to find out.
Victor Mete, defenseman, Montreal Canadiens- Mete spent 49 games with the Montreal Canadiens last year, but was released for the WJC. He put up three assists in six games, an impressive .5 points per game for a defenseman.
Janne Kuokkanen, forward, Charlotte Checkers- This is the second straight year Carolina has released a player from the Checkers to go to the World Juniors. After starting last year in the AHL, Kuokkanen put up two assists in five games at the World Juniors.
Filip Chytil, forward, Hartford Wolfpack- The New York Rangers released Chytil from their AHL roster to participate in last year’s festivities in Buffalo. The 2017 first rounder posted two goals and four assists in seven games in the tournament.
Klim Kostin, forward, San Antonio Rampage- A 2017 first-round pick by the Blues, Kostin tore it up at last year’s tournament after coming over from the AHL, with five goals and eight points in five games.
Timothy Liljegren, defenseman, Toronto Marlies- Yet another 2017 first rounder, Liljegren put up a goal and an assist in seven games from Sweden’s blue line in last year’s WJC.
Alexander Nylander, forward, Rochester Americans- The eighth overall pick in 2016 for the Sabres was a point-per-game player for the Swedes last year, with a goal and seven points in seven games.
Daniel Vladar, goalie, Providence Bruins- In two games at the World Juniors in 2017, Vladar posted a 3.97 goals-against average and .864 save percentage.
Oliver Kylington, defenseman, Stockton Heat- The 2015 Calgary Flames second rounder had a strong tournament on Sweden’s blue line in 2017, with four assists in seven games.
Denis Guryanov, forward, Texas Stars- The Dallas Stars’ 2015 12th overall pick was a standout performer for the Russians in the 2017 tournament, with four goals and seven points in seven games.
Jack Roslovic, forward, Manitoba Moose- A 2015 first-round pick for the Winnipeg Jets, Roslovic did not have a huge tournament, with just two points in seven games.
So, not every NHL or AHL player lit it up at the past two World Junior Tournaments, with several having modest to little impacts. However, when one considers first-round forwards such as Necas, the numbers get better. Of five first-round forwards with AHL or NHL experience in the past two World Junior Championships, three put up a point per game or more.
Given Necas’ talent level as the 2017 12th-overall pick, and his production level in the AHL this season, it’s fair to expect a big tournament from the Czechs’ captain, and Hurricanes fans should not be surprised to see him finish as a point-per-game player or better.
Necas and the Czech Republic opened the tournament with a 2-1 overtime win against Switzerland Wednesday; Necas had an assist. The Czechs will face Russia Friday.