A capsule look at the 10 countries in the 2022 world men's under-20 championship

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A capsule look at the 10 countries in the 2022 world men's under-20 hockey championship Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alta. Listed in order of 2021 ranking.

UNITED STATES

Six players return from the American team that defeated Canada 2-0 in the gold-medal game in Rogers Place, including captain Jake Sanderson out of the University of North Dakota. The roster features five first-round picks in the 2021 NHL draft including No. 2 pick Matthew Beniers (Seattle Kraken).

CANADA

Three returnees from the side that fell to the U.S. in the final: goaltender Dylan Garand, defenceman Kaiden Guhle and forward Cole Perfetti. Canada boasts seven first-rounders from the 2021 NHL draft including defenceman Owen Power going No. 1 to the Buffalo Sabres. Connor Bedard is just the seventh 16-year-old to make Canada's junior team. Shane Wright is a projected top pick for the 2022 draft.

FINLAND

Nine players back from the squad that lost to the U.S. in the semifinal and downed Russia for bronze, including Topi Niemela who was named best defenceman by the IIHF directorate. Defenceman Aleksi Heimosalmi was the top Finn taken in the 2021 draft at No. 44. The Finns have won the tournament three times in the last decade (2019, 2016, 2014).

RUSSIA

Two Nashville Predators first-round picks are in the lineup: goaltender Yaroslav Askarov went 11th in 2020 and centre Fedor Svechkov went 19th this year. Top 2022 draft prospect Ivan Miroshnichenko wasn't named to Russia's roster. Hockey Hall of Fame defenceman and two-time Stanley Cup winner Sergei Zubov is coaching the juniors. The Russians are perennial contenders, but haven't won gold in over a decade (2011).

SWEDEN

Winger Alex Holtz, a first-round pick of the New Jersey Devils Kings playing in the AHL this season, appears in his third world juniors. The Swedes boast two returning goaltenders: Jesper Wallstedt and Calle Clang. Head coach Tomas Monten couldn't travel to Canada last year because of a positive COVID test, but the Swedes arrived with their coaching staff intact this time. The Swedes have won twice in the history of the tournament (2012, 1981).

GERMANY

Forward Jakub Borzecki spent the entire 2021 tournament quarantined in his Edmonton hotel room because of a positive COVID-19 test just before the tournament opener. He's set to play this time for Germany, which was minus a third of its team for the first three games for similar reasons, yet still reached the quarterfinals. Captain Florian Elias is a proven producer with four goals and five assists in five games in 2021.

CZECHS

The Czech team is now officially 'Cesko' (no longer the Czech Republic) and the English equivalent is 'Czechia'. Hamilton Bulldogs forward Jan Mysak is a second-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens. Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Stanislav Svozil is a defenceman for the WHL's Regina Pats. The Czechs won back-to-back titles in 2000 and 2001 and their best result since was bronze in 2005.

SLOVAKIA

Defenceman Samuel Knazko, a Blue Jackets prospect, appears in his third world juniors. The Seattle Thunderbird also played for the Slovaks in this year's men's championship. Forward Juraj Slafkovsky and defenceman Simon Nemec are top prospects for the 2022 NHL draft. Slovakia won bronze in Winnipeg in 1999 and again in 2015 in Toronto.

SWITZERLAND

Ten players return from what was a young Swiss team in 2021 including goaltender Noah Patenaude of the QMJHL's Saint John Sea Dogs and Nashville Predators prospect Simon Knak. Defenceman Brian Zanetti is a Philadelphia Flyers draft pick. A bronze in 1998 is Switzerland's best result in this tournament.

AUSTRIA

The pandemic knocking out lower-tier world championships meant Austria wasn't relegated and gets another chance to stay in the top group. Forward Vinzenz Rohrer plays for Canadian head coach Dave Cameron with the Ottawa 67's. Senna Peeters is a Halifax Mooseheads winger. Head coach Marco Pewal said Austria's goal is beating Germany in this tournament.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 25, 2021.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

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