Hockey is back!
After the World Juniors were prematurely cut short last December due to Covid concerns, the tournament is now off and running once again, starting over from scratch on Aug. 9 and will go through Aug. 20 at Rogers Place in Edmonton.
The Columbus Blue Jackets organization is represented by five players including current Blue Jacket forward Kent Johnson on Team Canada, defensemen David Jiricek and Stanislav Svozil, forward Martin Rysavy, and goaltender Pavel Cajan of Team Czechia.
As Johnson can view this tournament opportunity as a tuneup for Blue Jackets training camp in the coming weeks ahead of the 2022-23 season, Jiricek was of course drafted in July.
He was named player of the game in Tuesday's win, a 5-4 Czechia victory over Slovakia. In that game, Jiricek initially had an assist—it's since been taken away—on Rysavy's first period goal to open the scoring and had six shots in 21:37 ice time.
Defenseman David Jiricek (@BlueJacketsNHL) named Player of the Game for Czechia in a 5-4 win over Slovakia. @ehshockey pic.twitter.com/xoHK8i85L4— Allan Walsh (@walsha) August 9, 2022
Rysavy finished with one goal on two shots in 16:19, and Svozil had an assist on four shots in 21:45.
On Thursday, Czechia was defeated by Finland in a shootout, 4-3. Jiricek was pointless but led the game with 25:41 ice time and had one shot. Svozil was also held without a point and played 21:57. Rysavy had three shots in 13:36.
#CBJ prospects stats:— Coby Maeir (@CobyMaeir) August 11, 2022
David Jiricek: 0-00, 0 PIM, 1 total shot, even, 25:41 TOI, 30 shifts, 0:51 avg shift length
Martin Rysavy: 0-00, 0 PIM, 3 TS, even, 13:36 TOI, 18 SHF, 0:45 ASL
Stanislav Svozil: 0-00, 0 PIM, 0 TS, even, 21:57 TOI, 29 SHF, 0:45 ASL#CBJ #WorldJuniors https://t.co/UAHkBTRGal
In Canada's 5-2 win over Latvia on Wednesday, Johnson was pointless with two shots in 16:29 but more importantly, at least from a Blue Jackets perspective, was Johnson's dangle that certainly raised eyebrows. The Canadians didn't score on the play but the skill on display by Johnson gives a sneak preview of what's to come. Hopefully, though, with that comes more scoring.
Kent Johnson's dangle...WOW!#WorldJuniors pic.twitter.com/n77cQwkmVl— TSN (@TSN_Sports) August 10, 2022
Team Canada rolled on Thursday, routing Slovakia 11-1, as Johnson had one assist with six shots in 14:13.
There's also a bunch of letters being adorned, as Johnson is wearing the 'A' as an alternate captain for Canada, while Jiricek and Svozil are alternate captains for Czechia.
Thats two #CBJ prospects friends David Jiricek and Stanislav Svozil wearing the A for Czechia— Jeff Svoboda (@JacketsInsider) August 9, 2022
Kent Johnson also an alternate captain for Canada https://t.co/LjKz54yMks
Cajan, 19 years old, is a goaltender who signed a two-year with the Cleveland Monsters in July. He played with the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL last season, going 21-18-4 (3.61 GAA, .901 SV%). He hasn't seen any action in the tournament.
Rysavy was taken in the seventh round by the Blue Jackets in the 2021 draft. In 2021-22, the 19-year-old put up 26 points (eight goals, 18 assists) in 45 games with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL.
In the first go-around for the World Juniors in December, Johnson played in two games for Canada, scoring one goal. Jiricek played one game and had an assist for Czechia before a knee injury and resulting surgery sidelined him for a few months. Svozil had one goal in two games, while Rysavy was pointless in two games.
On Wednesday, Coby Maeir talked about Jiricek, and if his player of the game performance on Tuesday was any indication of things to come, the Blue Jackets have a solid prospect on their hands. As we laid out last week in a conversation with The Athletic's Scott Wheeler, Wheeler is very high on Jiricek.
"Jiricek is a very commanding player," Wheeler said. "He's got presence on the ice. He's a big, aggressive player, defensively and offensively, a very aggressive player. Looks to sort of impact the game and sort of impose himself on the game in a variety of ways offensively and defensively."
As a side note, David Spacek, son of former Blue Jacket, Jaroslav Spacek, is playing in the World Juniors with Czechia. Canada and Czechia are off on Friday and will battle each other on Saturday in Group A play at 6:00 pm ET.