Three Rangers prospects played in Saturday’s World Juniors matchup between Sweden and Switzerland, and all three got on the stat sheet in Sweden’s 5-2 win.
Nils Lundkvist helped Sweden earn a 3-0 lead in the second period. On the power play, the 2018 first-round pick send a point shot through to Vancouver prospect Nils Hoglander, who redirected it into the net.
Lundqvist played pretty well against Switzerland, but I actually thought he was even better against a much more difficult opponent in Finland. In their opening overtime win against their rivals, Lundqvist was heavily involved in the play throughout the game. He had numerous touches of the puck and, though he didn’t get on the scoresheet, he played an active role in many offensive zone shifts and scoring chances.
Karl Henriksson, taken in the second round of the 2019 draft, scored his first goal of the tournament. The center was the beneficiary of a great setup from projected 2020 top-five pick Lucas Raymond.
Henriksson hasn’t been a major influence through two games, though that’s not fully unexpected. The 18-year-old center is very raw and is playing third-line minutes with two 17-year-olds. That’s not to say that he’s been invisible, though. He’s shown off his playmaking ability in both games and could easily have a couple of assists to his name.
Finally, 2018 fourth-round pick Nico Gross, in his fourth WJC, played well for Switzerland. He made multiple plays on the defensive side, and although he’s not known for offensive prowess, his goal against Sweden was excellent.
Gross has the remainder of this season left to prove to the Rangers that he deserves an entry-level contract. Most of that will be decided with his OHL play, but strong performances against top competition in a major tournament would also go a long way.
Switzerland is back in action on Monday in an important game against Slovakia, while Sweden is off until New Year’s Eve when they too will face the Slovaks.