Even through COVID times, the World Junior Hockey Championships are set to bubble up and play this Winter.

The Vancouver Canucks will have a few different prospects in the tournament this year. Guys like Arvid Costmar and Vasili Podkolzin seem to be locks to make Sweden and Russia this year.

Costmar could be anywhere from the first line centre down to the third line centre. He will be relied upon to bring his two way game and also be a facilitator for the snipers in Sweden’s lineup.

Podkolzin should be the captain of Russia’s World Junior Team and could potentially be the best player in this tournament. Podkolzin has not played against kids his own age since last year’s WJC, where he put up five points in seven games. This will be his third and final time playing for Russia in the WJC. His strength and improved skating should give him a huge leg up on his competition and I expect him to be the most physically dominant player in the entire tournament.

Podkolzin may not be the only Canucks prospect to make team Russia as there have been some rumblings lately about their 2020 sixth-round pick Dmitri Zlodeyev potentially being able to win a spot with the team.

Zlodeyev began his season in Russia’s junior league (MHL) but has now been called up to play with Dynamo Moscow’s minor league team (VHL). Zlodeyev has looked excellent in both leagues so far this season. He has four goals in seven VHL games and eight points in 10 MHL games.

He plays a strong two-way game that would fit with what Russia would like to bring to their bottom six. Zlodeyev is good in the faceoff circle, handles the puck with extreme precision and has a knack for finding the back of the net. He attacks the net differently, you expect to see him in certain spots and he almost magically appears in spots on the ice where his shots are strenuous for goaltenders to defend against.

Zlodeyev is only 18 years old and will be able to participate in next year’s WJC as well. If he doesn’t make the team this year, he will likely be in a prominent role at the 2022 tournament.

As Zlodeyev fights for a roster spot, he will be competing against his Dynamo teammate Bogdan Trineyev. Both players were selected in the 2020 NHL draft, as Trineyev went in the fourth round to the Washington Capitals.

In the past year, Zlodeyev has been a bit more productive than Trineyev but Zlodeyev is a few inches shorter than his teammate. Additionally, Zlodeyev has enjoyed a lot more success at the VHL level in his young career. These two can both play centre but from watching tape, you can clearly see that Zlodeyev pays more attention to his defensive game and is always backchecking with a purpose.

Here he is stick checking the opposition right in front of the net when the puck is sent his direction.

Zlodeyev is in a good spot as Russia will likely be doing most of their scouting through video. I’m sure the coaching staff is aware of Zlodeyev and how he plays the game. His hustle is noticeable on tape and he should have a good case to be a bottom-six centre on the team who can kill penalties.

Vasili Podkolzin will be killing penalties for team Russia as well, he was used in 5-on-3 situations last year for Russia and it would be pretty cool to potentially see Zlodeyev and Podkolzin kill penalties together.

The Canucks top draft pick from the 2020 draft Joni Jurmo has a shot at making the Finnish team, it’s too early to really know but he should be somehwere in the 3-4 rankings as a left shot defenceman for Finland. Jurmo will be able to compete in the 2022 WJC and I would expect him to be a lock for that team.

Victor Persson probably won’t make this year’s Swedish team, this is also his final year of eligibility for the tournament so he likely won’t be competing with Sweden at all on the World Juniors stage.

Jacob Truscott and Jackson Kunz probably aren’t on the radar for team USA and Arturs Silovs is Latvian and they are not in this year’s top WJC.

The Canucks will definitely have two players in this tournament and it would be pretty awesome to see Zlodeyev work his way onto a strong Russian roster. This kid could catch a lot of people’s eyes if he is put on the big stage this Winter.