john tavares

411 World Juniors alumni start season in NHL

List highlighted by 134 Canadians, 13 MVP recipients and 32 directorate award winners; Blue Jackets lead way with 17 alumni

Jason La Rose
October 4, 2018

The first puck of the 2018-19 National Hockey League season dropped Wednesday with four games, and from the East Coast to the West Coast it was IIHF World Junior Championship alumni leading the way.

-- Auston Matthews (United States, 2015-2016) scored twice, including the overtime winner, and John Tavares (Canada, 2008-2009) added his first in a Maple Leafs sweater to send Toronto past Montreal 3-2.

-- T.J. Oshie (United States, 2006) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (Russia, 2010-2011-2012) scored within the first two minutes to help Washington start defence of its Stanley Cup championship with a convincing 7-0 win over Boston.

-- Jacob Markstrom (Sweden, 2009-2010) made 33 saves, Elias Pettersson (Sweden, 2017-2018) recorded a goal and an assist in his NHL debut and Vancouver downed Calgary 5-2.

-- Max Comtois (Canada, 2018) needed just 49 seconds to score his first NHL goal, Rickard Rakell (Sweden, 2011-2012-2013) had a goal and two assists and Jakob Silfverberg (Sweden, 2010) added three helpers to help Anaheim pull away for a 5-2 win over San Jose.

That it was two World Juniors alumni stepping into the spotlight is hardly a surprise, considering 411 of the 713 players who were on NHL rosters to begin the season – 57.6% of all players – represented their country at the U20 tournament.

The list of alumni includes 13 of the 15 players who have earned Most Valuable Player honours at the World Juniors (Parise, Bergeron, Malkin, Price, Tavares, Eberle, B. Schenn, Kuznetsov, Gibson, Forsberg, Puljujarvi, Chabot and Mittelstadt), and 32 who were directorate award winners, from Roberto Luongo (Top Goaltender) in 1999, to Rasmus Dahlin (Top Defenceman) and Mittelstadt (Top Forward) in 2018.

By country, Canada led the way with 134 alumni – at least two on each of the 31 teams. Just eight months after winning gold in Buffalo, eight members of Canada’s 2018 National Junior Team made the jump to the NHL (Comtois, Dubé, Formenton, Howden, Kyrou, Mete, Steel, Thomas).

The United States was second-best with 93 alumni, followed by Sweden (59), Finland (34), Russia (31), the Czech Republic (24), Switzerland (11), Denmark (6), Germany (6), Slovakia (5), Austria (3) and Norway (2). Three other countries – France, Latvia and Slovenia – had one each.

Among NHL teams, the Columbus Blue Jackets paced the league with 17 World Juniors alumni, followed closely by Philadelphia, Toronto and Washington, who had 16 apiece.

The list does not include alumni who started the season on injured reserve – 52 in total, including past Team Canada standouts Ryan Murray (Columbus), Corey Perry (Anaheim), Kris Russell (Edmonton) and Shea Weber (Montreal).

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

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