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World Juniors primer: A team-by-team guide to the 2020 under-20 championship
8 min read
Can Canada get back on the podium or will a crowded field, headlined by the USA's Cole Caufield and Russia's Yaroslav Askarov steal the show at the 2020 World Junior Championship?
The IIHF World Junior Championship, known colloquially as the World Juniors, is hockey's premier annual prospect event that gives us the feel of playoff intensity smack in the middle of the NHL season. For many, it's the closest thing hockey fans have to March Madness, except this tournament features kids who are locks for NHL stardom.

WJC 2020: Top 5 storylines | 20 players to watch

Rosters for the 2020 World Juniors are packed with the NHL stars of tomorrow; last year's tournament was led by the United State's Jack Hughes and Finland's Kaapo Kakko, who now play for the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers, respectively. This year it's Canada's Alexis Lafreniere and Quinton Byfield who are expected to go 1-2 at the 2020 NHL draft.

But who will shine? Which team will play Cinderella and who will falter? In the end, which countries will reach the podium? The storylines make this event a must-watch event across Canada and the United States.

Here's a one-stop primer for everything there is to know about the competing nations and what to watch for.

Last January, the Americans came within one goal of winning their second gold medal in three years — reinforcing their standing as the dominant junior power in North America and setting the stage for another run at a gold medal in 2020.

What is the only thing different about this year's squad? It's young, but understandably so. The 2001 birth year had long been considered the most talented group in the country's history, and NHL team's validated it by taking a record nine players from the U.S. National Team Development Program in the first round of the 2019 draft. Ten players on the current roster were born in 2001, making it their biggest group ever with another year of world juniors eligibility. In comparison, only seven of their 23 players a year ago had another year before the age cutoff, and in 2018 that number was six.

This group has two major strengths — goaltending and goal scoring. Between the pipes, the…
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