As mentioned earlier, the Islanders fared pretty well at the World Junior Hockey Championship, which came to an end last night as Team USA outlasted Team Canada in a thrilling 6-5 OT win.
I just spoke with Islanders Assistant GM/Director of Amateur Scouting Ryan Jankowski about the performance of the team's prospects, and here's what he had to say:
In general, how did you assess the overall performance of your prospects at the tournament this year?
"They all played well for their respective team. We have one gold medalist (Matt Donovan), two silver medalists (Calvin de Haan, Travis Hamonic), and one bronze medalist (Anders Nilsson). And even the kids that didn't medal played big roles. Jyri Niemi was captain for team Finland, and Kirill Petrov was named captain for the last game with Team Russia. Defeneseman Anton Klementyev also did a fine job."
Who did you find the most impressive?
"Probably the nicest surprise was Matt Donovan, who played on the first d-pairing with Cam Fowler, and also was used in all situations--power play, penalty kill, and in key 5-on-5 situations. The expereience he got, the gold medal, and the ice time he received all will be great for his development."
How will the experience of this tournament serve all of your prospects?
"In a tournament like this in North America, and especially in a game like last night, it's similar to playing in the Stanley Cup Finals just in terms of the pressure, the intensity and the excitement. It's a great experience that very few kids participate in and it will help them deal with pressure and how to deal with adversity later down the road."
How much did Kirill Petrov improve from the tournament last year?
"It was nice to see the old Kirill Petrov again. It's been a tough two years, in terms of injuries, last year's world juniors tournament, the second half of last sason and the first half of this season. Hopefully now this shows, hey, this kid is good, he's talented and he's extremely strong."
What do you think winning a gold medal was like for Matt Donovan?
"I couldn't be happier for Matt. Here's a kid from Oklahoma, and he's playing on the world juniors stage. Considering how far he's come, he's had great success and we're looking forward to bigger and better things from him."
What did you think about Travis Hamonic's tournament and the disappointment of suffering an injury (separated shoulder) before the gold medal game?
"I was sick to my stomach for Travis. He put so much time and effort into his development. A break like that is sickening. Especially the way it happened, it's so sad for him. I truly believe he could've made a difference in last night's game."
Overall, what do you take from the tournament?
"It was an exciting tournament for the Islanders. It was a step in the right direction."