The Columbus Blue Jackets will have a respectable four prospects representing their respective country at the 2022 World Junior Championship in Alberta, Canada.
Here's a quick primer on all four players:
Kent Johnson (F, Canada)
Johnson is arguably the organization's top prospect, with only Cole Sillinger and maybe Yegor Chinakhov truly in the conversation. The sophomore, who is starring as a sophomore at the University of Michigan, is expected to be one of the top players for the host and tournament-favorite Canada. Through 17 games this season in the NCAA, the dynamic forward has posted 4-19-23.
Worth the wait pic.twitter.com/i6Q46fbYKk— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) December 19, 2021
Johnson was taken with the 5th overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft and could be making his NHL debut after his season with Michigan ends, depending on timing. He's definitely the Blue Jackets prospect with the most intrigue in this tournament.
Samuel Knazko (D, Slovakia)
Knazko, who was drafted in the 3rd round, 78th overall, in 2020, will be relied upon for heavy minutes for a Slovakia team that is climbing uphill in this tournament. He was recently named captain for the second consecutive year.
1/2@HockeySlovakia named the 19-year-old #CBJ prospect Samuel Knazko the captain of the nation's 2022 World Junior Championship squad. @SeattleTbirds D-man is the returnee from the both 2020 and 2021 WJC team.@WorldJuniorsHC @WorldJuniors @iihf #wjc2022 pic.twitter.com/J5d8hSbOiJ— Robert urk (@RDurkac) December 22, 2021
The 19-year old defenseman had been playing in Finland's TPS system for the past several years before making the jump this year to the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League (WHL). Per eliteprospects.com, he's only played in five games thus far in the WHL, posting 1-2-3.
Stanislav Svozil (D, Czech Republic)
Svozil was selected in the 3rd round, 69th overall, in the 2021 NHL Draft. The 18-year old defensemen is following a similar trajectory to Knazko by leaving Europe for the WHL. Svozil joined a powerhouse Regina Pats team that is headlined by Connor Bedard, who could be the #1 overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft.
The 6'1 defenseman seems to be adjusting well to the North American game and has tallied a respectable 1-17-18 in 26 games with Regina.
Martin Rysavy (F, Czech Republic)
Stop me if you've heard this before, but this Blue Jackets prospect made the jump from playing professional hockey in Europe to the WHL. The 18-year old, who was picked in the 7th round, 197th overall, in 2021, has posted 5-11-16 in 28 games for the Moose Jaw Warriors.
We'll be keeping tabs on the tournament, and specifically on these four prospects. The games begin in Edmonton/Red Deer, AB, on Dec. 26.