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Winnipeg Jets World Junior Recap

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We look back at how Vesalainen, Samberg, Gawanke and Berdin did during the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Canada v Finland - 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship
2017 Winnipeg Jets first round pick Kristian Vesalainen #13 of Finland reacts as his shot is stopped by Canada’s Carter Hart.
Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images

With the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship wrapping up on Friday with Team Canada winning gold over the Swedes, we can review how the Winnipeg Jets’ prospects fared in the international tournaments that occurred over the past few weeks.

LEON GAWANKE

GERMANY - Defence - Rd. 5, 136th Overall, 2017 NHL Entry Draft

Winnipeg Jets Headshots
WINNIPEG, MB - SEPTEMBER 14: Leon Gawanke of the Winnipeg Jets poses for his official headshot for the 2017-2018 season on September 14, 2017 at the Bell MTS Iceplex in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

If you don’t remember Leon Gawanke or Team Germany playing during this recent tournament, that is because they played in the Division I tournament in Division IA. These are the teams in the tier below the Top Division, which gets the most attention and in which Canada plays.

Germany played a total of five games, with Gawanke featuring in each of them, and finished with a record of 3-0-1-1 (W-OTW-OTL-L) and finished in third behind Latvia and newly-promoted Kazakhstan, which will return to the Top Division for the first time since the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championships.

Gawanke tied for fifth in Division 1B scoring, with five points in five games, including three against Hungary. Quite good for a defender. It’s an improvement over the one assist he managed in four games in last year’s tournament as well.

Gawanke now returns to the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the QMJHL, where he has three goals and 16 assists in 32 games this season. Gawanke is eligible to play again next year.

KRISTIAN VESALAINEN

FINLAND - Forward - Rd. 1, 24th Overall, 2017 NHL Entry Draft

First of all, this goal was sick wicked and nasty:

Unfortunately for Kristian Vesalainen, it was his last action of the tournament, as Finland fell in shootout to the Czech Republic in the quarter-finals.

In five games of the tournament, Vesalainen tied for the team-lead in points with six, including his three-point effort in the quarters. It will be interesting to see where he ends up next year, but he has the play a power forward who can dominate with his size. At least against the 20 and under crowd, anyway.

I expected more defensively from Finland, with five of their defenders having been drafted in the first round of the last two NHL drafts. A quarter-final exit has to be seen as a disappointing result for them. While they would have benefited from eligible guys like Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi, almost every country had top guys miss out due to playing in the NHL. I’m sure the Swiss would have liked Nico Hischier to play.

Vesalainen now returns to HPK is the Finnish Liiga, where he has 19 points in 26 games. Vesalainen is eligible to return to this tournament next year.

MIKHAIL BERDIN

RUSSIA - GOALIE - Rd. 6, 157th Overall, 2016 NHL Entry Draft

Winnipeg Jets Headshots
WINNIPEG, MB - SEPTEMBER 22: Mikhail Berdin #60 of the Winnipeg Jets poses for his official headshot for the 2016-2017 season on September 22, 2016 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

Mikhail Berdin was one of three goalies fifth-place Russia named to their roster for the tournament, but the only one that did not play. With the Russians eliminated by the Americans in the quarter-finals, Berdin can fondly look back at his time in Buffalo as he spent time in the press boxes of KeyBank Center and HarborCenter...assuming Harbor Center has a tiny press box somewhere.

Berdin now returns to the Sioux Falls Stampede of the USHL, where he is 9-4-1 with a .930 save percentage and a 2.63 goals against average. Berdin turns 20 on March 1, making him ineligible to return next year.

DYLAN SAMBERG

USA - DEFENCE - Rd. 2, 43rd Overall, 2017 NHL Entry Draft

United States v Czech Republic: Bronze Medal Game - 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images

The Winnipeg Jets’ most recent second round pick, Dylan Samberg picked up an assist in a little over 20 minutes of ice time in the U.S.A.’s 9-3 bronze medal victory over the Czech Republic. Samberg played on the American’s second defense pairing with Calgary Flames 2016 third rounder Adam Fox. His one goal and three assists during the tournament had him tied for sixth in team scoring.

Samberg is eligible to return to this tournament next year.

Samberg returns to the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where he has four assists in 19 games as a freshman.