The 2020 World Junior Championship tournament kicks off today in the host cities of Ostrava and Třinec, Czech Republic, where seven Coyotes prospects will represent their home countries during the annual national under-20 team competition that runs through January 5.
The Coyotes have the second-most prospects playing in the tournament among all 31 NHL teams, only the Los Angeles Kings (9) have more. Four teams (Carolina Hurricanes, Detroit Red Wings, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers) have five prospects playing in the 10-team event.
All seven of Arizona's prospects are products of the previous two drafts, including both first-rounders Barrett Hayton (2018, #5 overall) and Victor Soderstrom (2019, #11 overall). Three of the Coyotes' seven representatives were selected in the 2018 draft, while the other four are from the 2019 draft.
Six different countries include an Arizona draftee on its roster: One on Canada, Czech Republic, Sweden, Switzerland and USA, and two on a Finland team that will be vying for a gold medal for the second straight year.
Of the above players listed, two have been delegated to serve leadership roles with their respective teams.Barrett Hayton has been appointed team captain for Canada and Jan Jenik has been elected as one of Czech Republic's two alternate captains.
"Just incredibly honoured," Hayton told TSN's Mark Masters on Wednesday of his captaincy. "This is the tournament you grew up watching and you idolized the guys who played here, so to be able to lead this team is a special feeling. Having that responsibility is something I love and have a lot of pride in"
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D - TY EMBERSON (UNITED STATES)
The 19-year-old right-shot defenseman was selected in the third round (#73 overall) of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft and has three assists in 18 games so far during his sophomore season with the University of Wisconsin. He scored in USA's final preliminary game on Monday, a 7-1 win over Germany.
F - BARRETT HAYTON (CANADA)
He will be the most familiar name for Coyotes fans in the tournament, and understandably so. Hayton registered four points (1G, 3A) in 14 games with the Coyotes prior to his loan to Team Canada; he will return to the NHL club following the tournament. This will serve as Hayton's second World Junior Championship tournament - he totaled four assists in five games with Canada in 2019.
F - JAN JENIK (CZECH REPUBLIC)
The Coyotes' first third-round selection from the 2018 draft (#65 overall) has garnered a lot of attention through the tremendous year he's had so far with his junior club, the Hamilton Bulldogs. Continuing to build off a very impressive training camp with Arizona, the 19-year-old is currently fourth in the OHL in scoring with 56 points (22G, 34A) in 27 games, including a 26-game point streak that ran from September 27-December 6.
F - MATIAS MACCELLI (FINLAND)
Plucked in the fourth round of this past year's draft, the 19-year-old Maccelli lead all rookies in the Finnish Elite League in scoring with 25 points (10G, 15A) in 26 games played. He has been seen skating on Finland's top line during its preliminary games and recorded three points (2G, 1A) in a 6-1 win over Germany on Saturday.
F - VALENTIN NUSSBAUMER (SWITZERLAND)
A seventh-round selection from the 2019 draft (#207 overall), Nussbaumer will be playing in his third World Junior Championship tournament. He was a member of last year's surprising Swiss team that advanced to the bronze medal game against Russia. The 19-year old is in the midst of his second junior season in the QMJHL, where he's put up 25 points (7G, 18A) in 31 games. He's been seen centering the Swiss' second line during its preliminary matches.
F - AKU RATY (FINLAND)
One of the lesser-known Coyotes prospects in the tournament, Raty, who will be playing with his brother, Aatu, on the Finnish club, and of course with the aforementioned Maccelli, was selected in the fifth round (#151 overall) of the 2019 draft. Still just 18 years old, the forward has five points (2G, 3A) in 19 Finnish Elite League games this year.
D - VICTOR SODERSTROM (SWEDEN)
The Coyotes' first round selection from the 2019 draft will look to boost a Sweden team that finished in a disappointing fifth-place in last year's tournament with his highly-touted two-way game from the blue-line. "Victor is a skillful back who will help us in the offensive game," said Sweden's head coach Tomas Monten. "He has played a big role in Brynäs and we think he can have it with us too." Soderstrom has nine points (2G, 7A) in 15 games as he plays his second season in the Swedish Hockey League.