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Three Kings Prospects Medal at 2018 World Juniors

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Kale Clague, Jacob Moverare, and Mikey Anderson all take home medals this year

Sweden v Canada: Gold Medal Game - 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Nicholas T. LoVerde/Getty Images

The 2018 World Juniors tournament wrapped up on Friday night, with all three Kings prospects taking home medals this year. Canada defeated Sweden 3-1 in the gold medal game, and the United States took the bronze by winning their match against the Czech Republic with an emphatic 9-3 score.

Let’s take a look at how each Kings prospect fared over the course of the tournament.

Kale Clague, Defense, Canada (2016, 2nd Round)

While the other Kings prospects competing at World Juniors were more of role players, expectations were high for Kale Clague. He leads the Brandon Wheat Kings in scoring by a defenseman and has already hit new career highs in goals (10) and total points (47) a little over halfway through his season, and is generally regarded as one of the better defensemen in the WHL. The hope was that this would be a breakout year for Clague on the international stage — last year, he had a very strong tournament, but was overshadowed by the strong play of Thomas Chabot.

Unfortunately for Clague, he had a relatively quiet tournament. He only notched two assists over six games, despite playing on the highest scoring team in the tournament, and despite routinely leading Canada in ice time. He also missed one game with a minor injury to his foot, sustained after blocking a shot in Canada’s first game.

Clague WJC Stats

Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM Average Shots +/- Average TOI
Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM Average Shots +/- Average TOI
6 0 2 2 4 2.5 -1 23:49

Canada certainly relied on Clague as one of their top defensemen, and his ice time reflects that, but he wasn’t rewarded for it on the scoresheet. He also had his share of inconsistent play, with errant passes and turnovers occasionally being an issue. His play at this tournament suffered from the same inconsistency that seemed to follow him throughout the NHL preseason: moments of very strong play followed by utterly forgettable play, or mistakes that could cost you (passing the puck directly in front of one’s net, for example).

Still, Clague got to take home a gold medal after last year’s shoot-out loss to the US. Clague returns to Brandon, which is very well placed for a playoff run this season, for his final year of junior hockey.

Jacob Moverare, Defense, Sweden (2016, 4th round)

Moverare was Sweden’s final cut last year before finalizing their World Juniors roster, so he certainly felt extra pressure to make the team this year. Sweden is notorious for being stacked defensively, so it’s an uphill battle for any young defenseman to make the roster.

Moverare was used as more of a middle pairing player for the Swedes this year, and had no points over seven games, despite being ostensibly on the first defensive pairing. His ice time was at its highest during the semi-final game against the United States, where he played just under 20 minutes. If you take that game out, he averages 14:50 in ice time over the tournament.

Moverare WJC Stats

Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM Average Shots +/- Average TOI
Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM Average Shots +/- Average TOI
7 0 0 0 0 0.4 0 15:34

Much of the attention for the Swedes was on Rasmus Dahlin, and for good reason; Dahlin is the consensus number one pick in the 2018 NHL draft and was named best overall defenseman of the tournament at just 17 years old. Vegas Golden Knights prospect Erik Brannerstrom also had a very strong tournament playing alongside Dahlin.

The general scouting report on Moverare is that he needs work on his skating, but that he thinks the game very well. He’s generally thought of as one of the Kings’ top defensive prospects, and the organization thinks very highly of him. He’s been faring well as a top defenseman on the Mississauga Steelheads, but his play at this tournament — nothing flashy, middle-pairing numbers — may be indicative of how he’d pan out in the NHL.

United States v Sweden: Semifinals - 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images

Mikey Anderson, Defense, United States (2017, 4th round)

Anderson’s selection for the WJC squad was a bit of a surprise to me. While he fits the Kings model of big, physical defenseman, his skill level and foot speed made him a bit of an odd choice for USA Hockey. Anderson’s been holding his own as a freshman on UMD’s blue line, but wasn’t very noticeable over the WJC tournament.

His stats over seven games show him being largely used on the bottom pairing for the Americans. He played a low of 8:19 during the semi-finals game against Sweden, and only once played more than 16 minutes, in the rout of the Czech Republic for the bronze medal. For a first appearance in the tournament, and his first major international experience (he also played at the Ivan Hlinka tournament and the Junior A tournament last season) that’s right about where he belonged.

Anderson WJC Stats

Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM Average Shots +/- Average TOI
Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM Average Shots +/- Average TOI
7 0 1 1 2 0.6 2 12:56

Anderson is definitely a work in progress as he rounds out his game — one of his most noticeable moments, unfortunately, was taking a penalty that led to a goal against — and participating in the WJC was hopefully a good learning opportunity for the younger skater.

Czech Republic v United Sates: Bronze Medal Game - 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Nicholas T. LoVerde/Getty Images