The World Junior Championships are over, and the Soviet… I mean Russian team has been crowned World Champions, preventing Team Canada from their coveted place on top of the podium for the second year in a row. Despite their unsuccessful run to the Championship, Team Canada put on a clinic for most of the tournament, racking up points left and right, and leading the way was one Kings prospect, Brayden Schenn. The young gun played some time in the NHL this season before being sent back to his junior team for a bit more seasoning.
The demotion was obviously a bit of a downer for the up-and-comer, but he seems to have responded well and hit the ice full-speed for Team Canada. So how well did he do? Schenn netted 8 goals and 10 assists for 18 points in 7 games. In addition he lead his team to the silver medal. While a disappointing end result for Canadians world-wide, let’s see how it compares to some of the best in the past and ask ourselves, is Schenn the next Great One?
Wayne Gretzky – 8 goals and 9 assists for only 17 points, and his team only managed a bronze medal.
Mario Lemieux - 5 goals, 5 assists and a team bronze.
Eric Lindros – 6 goals, 11 assists and a team gold medal. A nice team result, still not up there in points.
Jarome Iginla - 5 goals, 7 assists and a team gold medal.
Not bad company to keep. In fact, Schenn managed to tie the Team Canada record for points scored at the World Juniors. So that brings us to the question posed above. Is Schenn the next Gretzky? Or Lemieux? Or even Lindros?
Probably not. In fact, I would go so far as to say with virtually no doubt that he won’t manage to reach those lofty heights. That said, it was a dominant performance from an impressive young player that can only provide some additional hope for Kings fans. The World Juniors isn’t a surefire way to predict future success, but it can be a helpful tool for looking forward. Many previous point leaders have graced the ice in the NHL, and Schenn will almost certainly be next.
Strong play in intensely pressured situations will only help Schenn fulfill his future potential, and Schenn certainly demonstrated that in this tournament. In addition, the character demonstrated by his willingness not only to go back to his junior team with disappointment, but without attitude speaks volumes about the kid. I can only respect the fact that the time in the NHL appears to have given him a spark, and rather than wallow, he took the World Junior showcase as a chance to re-exert his dominance over his age group.
Schenn’s not as good as Gretzky, though that’s a pretty high bar to clear. He is however, an incredibly talented kid, and I look forward to seeing him play for the next few years at least.