An Ottawa guide to watching the 2021 World Junior Hockey Championships

It’s almost Christmas, and you know what that means… World Juniors!

In these uncertain times, tournament organizers are determined to continue this annual holiday sports tradition, and Ottawa hockey fans have a lot to cheer for this year.

The 2021 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships are slated for December 25 to January 5.

The best under-20 players around the globe have entered an Edmonton “bubble” surrounding Rogers Place, the same arena that hosted the 2020 Stanley Cup Final.

Although spectators won’t be in the stands, fans will be able to catch all the action on TSN.

Here’s a list of players to watch from an Ottawa perspective:

Ottawa Senators Prospects

Tim Stuetzle – C/LW – Germany

He’s already acquired the nickname “Timmy Süperstar” among Ottawa Senators faithful.

Stuetzle was drafted third overall by the Senators in the 2020 NHL Draft, the highest-selected Senator since Jason Spezza was picked second overall in 2001.

You can expect a display of great skating, puck handling, and playmaking from the six-foot-one dynamo who was just named captain of team Germany. An exciting and creative offensive talent, Stuetzle will be the driver on that end for the low-ranked German team.

Last year, Stuetzle earned five points in five games at the world juniors. He also had a standout season in Germany’s top professional league, scoring 34 points in 41 games for Adler Mannheim.

He arrives at this year’s tournament after recovering from surgery on a broken arm and will be in quarantine until December 24 as eight German players tested positive for Covid-19.

Stuetzle is expected to join Senators training camp after the tournament, and we could see him don the Sens uniform once the season gets underway in mid-January.

Jake Sanderson – D – United States

The Senators selected Sanderson fifth overall in this fall’s Draft. That surprised many, who thought he should have been picked lower, but the defenceman is already turning heads after a strong start as a freshman with the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks.

Sanderson is a two-way defenceman gifted with a high hockey IQ and great skating ability. The six-foot-two American is a strong defensive presence, but it’s his knack for making the right play when moving from defence to offence that makes him an elite prospect.

With Sanderson, the Senators believe they’ve added another key piece to a strong defensive core of the future, which includes Thomas Chabot and Erik Brannstrom.

Roby Jarventie – LW – Finland

Jarventie was selected 33rd overall by the Senators in the 2020 draft and has taken the hockey world by storm ever since.

He has seven goals and seven assists through 19 games to lead all rookies in Finland’s top professional league.

With the opportunity to play against competition his own age at the world juniors, look for Jarventie to be a prime scoring threat for Finland as the six-foot-two forward possesses a great shot and instinct around the net.

Tyler Kleven – D – United States

The Senators first four picks in the 2020 NHL Draft are making an appearance at the World Juniors, Kleven being the fourth at 44th overall.

Kleven was a late addition to the United States team. After being left off the preliminary roster, he received a call to replace a defenceman who couldn’t play because of Covid-19 protocols.

At six-foot-four, 200 lbs, the 18-year-old will provide strength and physicality to the American blueline, but as a last-minute call-up, he’ll likely play a minor role for team USA in the tournament.

Ottawa 67s players

Jack Quinn – RW – Canada

The only Canadian player on this list, Quinn grew up in Cobden, ON, just an hour’s drive west of Ottawa.

And, he’s a goal-scoring machine.

After scoring an impressive 52 goals and adding 37 assists through 62 games in a breakout season for the Ottawa 67s, Quinn was selected eighth overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2020 NHL Draft.

He’s a pure goal-scorer whose speed and quick release make him a scoring threat from all over the ice, whether that’s shooting from the outside or driving to the net.

So far, he’s slotted alongside captain Kirby Dach and assistant-captain Dylan Cozens on Canada’s top line.

Marco Rossi – C – Austria

Selected ninth overall by the Minnesota Wild in 2020, Rossi led the OHL in scoring last season with 120 points (39 goals, 81 assists) in just 56 games and was named league MVP for the Ottawa 67s.

If not for his five-foot-nine stature, Rossi would likely have been picked even higher than ninth overall.

Austria will be underdogs in the tournament, playing in the world juniors for the first time since 2010, where they failed to win a game.

But don’t rule out Rossi, he could be one of the top players in the tournament. Watch for his intelligence, playmaking, and two-way game at centre.