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World Juniors

3 Golden Knights Prospects Medal At 2023 World Juniors

Three Vegas Golden Knights prospects have medaled at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championships. Zach Dean has won Gold with Team Canada as they…



Three Vegas Golden Knights prospects have medaled at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championships. Zach Dean has won Gold with Team Canada as they defeated Team Czechia 3-2, with Dylan Guenther scoring in overtime. Matyas Sapovaliv and Jakub Brabenec earned Silver medals with Czechia. The final Golden Knights prospect Carl Lindbom, finished fourth with Team Sweden as they lost to Team USA in the Bronze medal game.

Golden Knights head coach Bruce Cassidy gave an assessment of the four prospects after Thursday's morning skate.

"The goaltender (Carl Lindbom) has been excellent; they say he is undersized, so time will tell with that…The two Czech kids have been really good; their coach has spoken very highly of Sapovaliv… Brabenec, I know we just signed, has been putting up points. That is good when you have two center icemen that have been doing well… and then Dean with Canada… He has had a good tournament as well… it looks like he has been able to find his game too. It bodes well when you have guys performing well there,” said Cassidy.

Dean finished the tournament with a goal and two assists in seven games. He played on a stacked Team Canada team that featured the likes of Shane Wright, Logan Stankoven, Brandt Clarke, and consensus 2023 no. 1 overall pick Connor Bedard, who scored 23 points in seven games.

A 2021 first-round pick, the 19-year-old Dean made Team Canada after being on the team's extended roster last season. Dean was hurt during Golden Knights development camp this summer. This season with Gatineau of the QMJHL, he has scored 17 goals and 18 assists for 35 points in 27 games.

Sapovaliv and Brabenec were huge parts of Czechia's run to the Gold Medal game. Both players had seven points in seven games. Sapovaliv was the Golden Knight's first pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, coming in at no. 48 overall in the second round. Brabenec is a 2021 fourth-round pick, and both players recently signed their entry-level contracts with the Golden Knights.

Lastly, 2021 Golden Knights seventh-round pick Carl Lindbom had a tremendous tournament with Team Sweden. His numbers took a hit in his final game of the tournament against the United States, which finished in an 8-7 USA win. But Lindbom had a .914 save percentage and two shutouts.

Several members of the current Golden Knights roster have played in the World Juniors. Jack Eichel, Brett Howden, William Karlsson, Alex Pietrangelo, and Shea Theodore have all won Gold at the tournament.

Pietrangelo has played on two World Juniors teams with Team Canada in 2009, where he won Gold, and in 2010 where he won Silver.

“I was lucky enough to play in two. Some people only get to play in one; some don’t to get to play in any. So I tried to make sure I enjoyed it as much as I could. Because down the road, you cross paths with a lot of your teammates, especially if you make it to this level, and I have done that,” said Pietrangelo.

Every year the World Juniors provide a stage for some of the best young prospects in the game to get national exposure. Almost all of the players who play in the tournament are either prospects or end up getting drafted by NHL teams when eligible.

"Just like in the Olympics, it's best on best. And I think you can really see the best players come out at that level when the game is on the line. I think it's great, even for some of the guys that get sent back from the NHL; I think it's great to be put in those situations because, in the NHL, you want to be in the situation. So it's a good opportunity to practice that," said Pietrangelo.

Nicolas Roy, who played with Team Canada in 2017, says he remembers having a lot of nerves in the tournament, given the elevated stage of play.

"I remember I was on the team with a lot of guys that are playing in the NHL right now. We had a really good group, and just playing the final in Montreal, being from Quebec, was an unreal experience for sure. If you look back at it, I was really nervous. It was not like I didn’t enjoy my experience, but I was not living it to the fullest, I would say," said Roy.

The biggest takeaway from the tournament has to be Connor Bedard, who scored 23 points in the tournament, which is the fourth-most all-time. With the Anaheim Ducks, Vancouver Canucks, and San Jose Sharks all struggling, there is a very strong possibility Bedard ends up in the Pacific Division as soon as next year, if not in the Western Conference overall, to a team like the Chicago Blackhawks or Arizona Coyotes.

“Well, he's got like 80 points and four games. So he's obviously doing something right. I haven't really watched a whole lot of how he plays, but the conversation is there for a reason,” said Pietrangelo, who might be defending against Bedard real soon.

“He's unreal. It seems like when it is getting pretty tight in games; he is there. He's playing at his best, he's clutch, and he is really fun to watch,” added Roy.

All four Golden Knights prospects who played in the WJC tournament will now be sent back to their respective junior clubs. The next we see of these players will likely be during rookie camp in the summer.