Monday, January 3, 2011
The Isles' junior achievers
By Mike Hume
Three of the four Islander prospects participating in the World Junior Championships squared off yesterday when Canada clashed with Switzerland in the quarterfinals.
The Swiss-Can’t-Miss, Nino Niederreiter, showed some flashes of his immense talent on a few rushes up the ice, but he didn’t have much help on his line and didn’t do much on the whole. He ended the game in the sin bin after picking up a 10-minute misconduct penalty when things got chippy with the Canadians in the final two minutes.
The second Swiss line, headlined by the draft-eligible and likely first rounder Sven Bartschi, had better success.
El Nino finished the tournament with two goals and an assist in five games, firing a team-high 22 shots on goal.
The Isles-related highlight of the day came on the go-ahead goal by Canada’s Casey Cizikas. Getting a few more minutes with Jaden Schwartz injured, the Cizikas broke in on a two-on-one down the left wing and called his own number, burying the shot top shelf on the short side. He nearly converted another two-on-one attempt a few minutes later down the right side too.
On D, Calvin de Haan looked sharp though he didn’t have to handle too much pressure from the Swiss forwards. As Gare Joyce joked, the Swiss speak about eight different languages, but don’t know the word for “forecheck” in any of them.
Cizikas (two goals and an assist) and de Haan (three assists) take on the final Isles prospect in the tournament, the U.S.’s Brock Nelson in tonight’s semifinal. Nelson missed some action with an upper-body injury but is expected to be in the lineup tonight. He’s recorded an assist in three games, with seven shots on goal.
Up here in Buffalo for the World Junior Championships, I asked Joyce, an NHL draft guru and chief writer for Insider’s draft blog, for his take on Wishart. Overall, Joyce likes the 6-4 defenseman, selected in the first round of the 2006 draft. He thinks Wishart has top-four potential and will contribute more in his own end than he will with the puck.
While the Isles shipped him to their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport, he should be a nice addition to a blue line that projects to include Travic Hamonic and Calvin de Haan a season or so down the line.