Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
Defensemen Scott Harrington (Canada) and Olli Maatta (Finland) along with forward Teddy Blueger (Latvia) are the Penguins prospects chosen to rep their countries at this year's WJC U-20 tournament.
Scott Harrington (Canada)
The 2011 2nd round pick has rounded his game into one of the finest and smoothest of all the junior aged defensemen around. Harrington won the bronze with Canada last year and due to eligibility is one of the few returning players from that team. In such, he’s been named an alternate captain and will play a much bigger role this time around as Canada looks to bounce back from last year’s disappointing and shocking 6-5 loss to Russia and tries to spoil the host’s party this year. Harrington won’t be flashy but he’s very steady- he can skate well, pass well, read plays and is excellent in his own zone at using his stick to break up passes and shots.
Olli Maatta (Finland)
Maatta, the Pens second 1st round pick of 2012 will be a mainstay for the Finns blueline. Last year he was on Team Finland but his tournament was cut short in the first game when he received a high hit and concussion, so now in his 3rd WJC, Maatta will be chomping at the bit to make up for lost time. A teammate of Harrington’s in London of the OHL, Maatta is in a way molding his game in the same way- he’s not an explosive defensemen but he is a very steady, smart and good all-around player that can skate well, read plays and make passes or use his legs to get pucks out of danger. The Finns often look over-matched on paper but also play some of the fiercest games and tend to demonstrate really good on-ice chemistry, and with Maatta to log a lot of minutes for them, they bear watching to see how much of a splash they can make this season.
Teddy Blueger (Latvia) Latvian born, American raised Teddy Blueger looks to be the top center on Team Latvia, an underdog country that will be trying to make some noise. As the Pens 2nd round pick in 2012, Blueger was considered a long-term project as he’ll need time to grow physically and develop more. So far he’s had a decent start to his collegiate career with 12 points (2 goals, 10 assists)in 18 games with Minnesota St Mankato, but he’s going to be on a very outgunned team staring down the international powers out there. It should be a good learning experience for Blueger to gain though in competition with such elite skill at his age, and hopefully he can draw the most from it as he continues to personally develop.
In America, the NHL Network is finally proving itself useful and carrying some of the games, but like I said at the top, the time zones make for weird starting times in America, but luckily it seems like they’ll be replaying the games throughout the day at decent times.
Also, do yourself a favor and check out Bruce Peter at Puck Worlds who provides really all the coverage you need to follow the action!