2 years ago
It’s that time of year again. The 2019 edition of the IIHF World Championship is upon us. To celebrate that, Fanteam is launching a series of daily tournaments which will run up until the finals have been played. Sure enough, we at Draftgym could not ignore this large event and have come up with a series of tips dedicated to each team taking part in this year’s world forum.
In this series, we are going to take a look at elite and value picks from each team. Our today’s targets are the Denmark, Norway, and Latvia.
Denmark brings a rather interesting squad to the tournament, including a few additions from the NHL. However, last year this team has largely failed at home turf with an even more skilled group of players. It is important to watch Denmark's start closely to see if they’re able to upset some big teams.
Mikkel Bødker has played 71 matches for Ottawa Senators where he was able to get to 35 points (7 + 28).
He joined the Denmark national team just before the last friendly against Austria where he played alongside Peter Regin and Niklas Jensen. Boedker is a threat both in full squads and powerplay. In the aforementioned match, he claimed a powerplay assist to his name in his team's first goal.
Try to get Jokerit's winger Niklas Jensen into your roster if you’re looking for some value. Jensen averaged almost 0.5 goals per game during his KHL spell this season with 48 points (21 + 18) in 48 matches. He will be playing on the team’s second forward line, as well as getting some minutes on the first powerplay unit.
Jensen has played only one friendly for his national team, but he was able to rack 2 points (1 + 1).
Due to an absence of the elite puck mover Philip Larsen, Denmark is somewhat lacking at the blue line. However, that also means an opportunity for someone else to get those desired powerplay minutes.
Look no further than Philip Bruggisser if you need to get some value for your buck. 27 year-old Krefeld Pinguine captain has accumulated 36 points (9 + 27) in 52 matches in DEL this season. He was one of the best blueliners in the league this season and is more than capable to drill one in.
Latvia is bringing an improved roster to Bratislava if compared to what we had seen at World Championship last year, and is ready to surprise. The team has been weakened by injuries though, and will definitely miss gritty forwards like Zemgus Girgensons and Kaspars Daugavins. They still have some quality young guns that are more than hungry to prove themselves.
Last year Rudolfs Balcers has accumulated 6 points (4 + 2) in 8 matches of the World Championship. His soft hands and quick release haven’t been left unnoticed by the Ottawa organization. Senators had given their prospect plenty of chances this season and he had duly delivered scoring some sweet goals along the way.
Balcers had 14 points (5 + 9) in 36 matches for Ottawa, and most probably will be playing on the second line centered by Rodrigo Abols. Without doubts, Rudolfs will get a lot of ice-time, both full squads, and powerplay.
If you’re looking for value in the Latvian national team — Martins Dzierkals should be chosen. QMJHL Champion of 16/17 season had a questionable start with Dinamo Riga this year but has been able to find his motivation at the end, winning Rookie of the Month award in January.
Martins is projected to play on the third line centered by Teddy Blueger. Both guys have high hockey intelligence and are able to pull some fancy moves. Dzierkals scored 5 goals for Dinamo Riga this season and has added one to his name in a friendly match against powerful team Russia.
Latvia has been lacking an elite blue-liner since seven-time NHL All-Star game participant Sandis Ozolins has finished his career. Most of the defenders can be considered value-play at best, and will need to prove themselves before being considered being close to elite level.
Ralfs Freibergs is somewhat standing out from that crowd. In his second season in Czech Extraliga Ralfs has accumulated 24 (5 + 19) points in 52 matches, becoming the leading defender in terms of points for his Berani Zlin side. Freibergs will form first pair of defenders with Kristaps Sotnieks, as well as will definitely get some powerplay minutes.
Absence of Ken Andre Olimb will reduce Norway's options going forward, remembering the winger's legendary chemistry with his brother Matthis. The nordic country still has some interesting choices upfront, though.
One of the best Norwegian players ever — the veteran Patrick Thoresen, has recently finished his best season in the Norwegian league in his entire career. He had scored 65 points (26 + 39) in 45 matches for Storhamar, becoming third best in the league in terms of points. All that done at 35 years of age.
Thoresen has not participated in any of the friendly games with Norway, but he’s more than capable of delivering as he always has. He will be playing alongside Olimb and Reichenberg on the first line, as well as on the main powerplay unit.
Even though Andreas Martinsen has 152 NHL matches to his name, he is still considered a borderline player in the best league in the world. He had played both for Rockford IceHogs and Chicago Blackhawks this season.
Blackhawks had given Andreas 24 games in the A-team where he’d been able to record 4 points (1 + 3). Martinsen has decent speed and a good shot, as well as he’ll be playing on the first powerplay unit. Since Norway is lacking depth this year in general, Martinsen is one of the few value forwards that can unexpectedly exceed expectations.
Jonas Holos is still Norway's best option in defense. Holos excels in his ability to read the game, as well as having great puck-moving skills. He finished the season for HC Fribourg-Gottéron as a point-leading defender, getting to 17 points (3 + 14) in 49 matches. He had also participated in 6 friendly matches for Norway recording 3 assists to his name.
That is all for today. More previews are coming your way from our hockey experts as we edge closer to the opening face-off of the IIHF World Championship. Enable notifications and follow us on Twitter to be fully armed when the slates at FanTeam open.