It may not feel like hockey weather in this sweltering summer heat, but it's this time of year that the World Junior Championships come to the forefront of the hockey world. Five of the top 10 junior teams in the world are currently in action as the under-20 national teams evaluate potential prospects for the Dec. 26 tournament to be held this season in Ufa, Russia.
Russia and Canada are in the midst of a four-game exhibition series marking the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Summit Series, which for many put international hockey on the map in North America. The Russia-Canada series moves to Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Monday, when I'll get a chance to get my eyes on those prospects in person. Meanwhile, in Lake Placid, N.Y., defending WJC champion Sweden is playing in a four-team tournament that features Finland and an American team divided into two squads -- Team White and Team Blue. A total of nine games will have been played when all is said and done, with USA's White and Blue rosters combining to form Team USA for the final games of the schedule.
While the staffs of the national teams will be evaluating players for the World Juniors, NHL scouts in attendance will be sizing up prospects for June's 2013 draft, as well as eyeing some of their past picks to see what sort of progress they have made. Having spoken to some of the scouts in attendance and watched the action via live video feed, here's the latest buzz from Lake Placid.
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