There's no better time of the year to watch high-end prospects than at the World Junior Championships. Each year the elite, top players that are under-20 faceoff in a highly entertaining tournament.
Let's see who might be going that have been drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Unfortunately, there's not as many as recent years, in large part thanks to some recent trades.The Pens traded their first and second round picks in 2013 (eventually getting a 2nd back) and had no 2nd and 3rd round picks in 2014. Without so many top-end picks, it's hard to get top-end talent.
First the good: the Pens top young prospect, Kasperi Kapanen, has been invited to tryout for Team Finland, where he's expected to make the team. Kapanen is having a great year back in Finland, he's already got 16 points (9 goals, 7 assists) in 16 games. Consider that last year he only got 14 points in 47 games and on that alone you can tell that he's made some strides and is getting a chance to play more.
Here's Team Sweden: the Pens don't have any eligible prospects, as Oskar Sundqvist is 20 years old now and can't re-join the team. Not much to see here from the Pittsburgh perspectrive.
No Penguins made Team USA, and surprisingly no kids from Western PA got invited either, which is different from past years where kids with Pittsburgh roots played large roles on the team. Pens 2014 7th round pick Jeff Taylor is off to a great start this season with 19 points (4g, 15a) in 16 games at Union College, but didn't quite have the pedigree or name recognition to be considered for a spot. Too bad, for the start he's had perhaps could have gotten more consideration.
Perhaps the biggest surprise will be that Tristan Jarry (2nd round pick, 2013) won't be going for Team Canada. Jarry won the Memorial Cup last spring and is off to a pretty solid start again this season, but he was overlooked. No other Penguins picks were seriously considered, and the decision to leave Jarry off could be a baffling one if the goaltending isn't up to snuff.
So there you have it. If you tune into the WJC's this year, it's Team Finland or bust if you're interested in cheering on future Penguins.