Standouts, disappointments and surprises at the 2016 World Junior Championship

Jesse Puljujarvi, left, and Sebastian Aho put on standout performances in leading Finland to a gold medal in a thrilling World Junior Championship final. Markku Ulander/AFP/Getty Images

The World Junior Championship is typically a showcase of the top drafted prospects outside the NHL. The under-20 age requirements for the tournament create an environment where players who are one or two years removed from being drafted are physically superior and more experienced to their equal or superior talented draft-eligible players -- thus giving them a significant edge. To wit, my tournament previews were littered mostly with drafted players. They are expected to dominate the event.

This year's event didn't turn out that way. It was due to a combination of factors:

  • The 1996 age group was never that impressive beyond a couple of standouts who are already contributing in the NHL, and the ones who remain outside the NHL are somewhat underwhelming as a whole

  • Several of the top drafted prospects slightly or significantly underperformed at the tournament

  • Several top-end draft eligible prospects put on a show

Here are my thoughts on the standouts, surprises and disappointments from this year's WJC, including a phenomenal performance from a particular line from the gold-medal winners.