The 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship kicks off on Christmas Day for the first time since 2005 with three round-robin games on tap from the bubble in Edmonton.
All of the games can be seen on TSN and streaming on TSN.ca, the TSN App and TSN Direct.
Switzerland vs. Slovakia – 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT on TSN3/5
The World Juniors round robin starts off with action in Group A as Switzerland takes on Slovakia. Both teams advanced to the quarterfinals in last year’s edition in the Czech Republic before falling to the Russians and Canadians respectively.
Switzerland does not have any NHL prospects on this year’s roster while Slovakia has two in Los Angeles Kings fifth-rounder Martin Chromiak and Columbus Blue Jackets third-round pick Samuel Knazko.
Germany vs. Finland – 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT on TSN3/5
Headlined by Ottawa Senators third overall pick Tim Stuetzle, Germany comes into the 2021 WJC after beating Kazakhstan in relegation last year.
Joined by Buffalo Sabres second-rounder John-Jason Peterka up front, Stuetzle and the Germans look to take the next step forward and reach the quarterfinals to avoid the relegation round. One of Germany’s biggest obstacles is COVID-19. After eight players tested positive prior to the tournament, they were unable to play a pre-competition game due to quarantine.
Finland comes into the tournament with 16 NHL prospects on their roster including Florida Panthers first-round pick Anton Lundell, Winnipeg Jets first rounder Ville Heinola and Ottawa Senators second-round pick Roby Jarventie. Brad Lambert, eligible for the 2022 NHL Draft, notably makes the team as a 17-year-old.
The Finns look to improve on last year’s fourth-place finish, after losing in the bronze-medal game to rival Sweden.
United States vs. Russia – 9:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. PT across the TSN Network
The nightcap game is a battle of heavyweights with the United States taking on Russia in a Group B showdown. The Americans are looking to rebound after finishing a disappointing sixth in last year’s tournament, losing 1-0 to the Finns in the quarterfinals.
The U.S. returns eight players from last year’s squad, including Montreal Canadiens first-round pick Cole Caufield, Anaheim Ducks first-rounder and last year’s leading scorer Trevor Zegras and Kings’ fifth overall pick Alex Turcotte. Other notable names include Panthers first-round pick Spencer Knight in net and 2020 Ottawa Senators fifth-overall pick defenceman Jake Sanderson.
For the first time in years, the Russians will have a new face behind the bench as Igor Larionov takes over from Valeri Bragin as head coach. After taking home silver in 2020, the Russians are bringing an overhauled and inexperienced roster to Edmonton.
After struggling during his first go at the WJC last year as a 17-year-old, Yaroslav Askarov (Nashville Predators first-round pick) is expected to be the No. 1 in net for the Russians after a strong start to his KHL season.
Up front, the Russians have two returnees in Vancouver Canucks first-round pick Vasily Podkolzin, who returns for his third WJC and Maxim Groshev, a Tampa Bay Lightning third-rounder. The other first-round picks on the Russian roster are forwards Rodion Amirov (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Yegor Chinakhov (Columbus Blue Jackets) and defenceman Shakir Mukhamadullin (New Jersey Devils).