2023 World Junior Championship predictions

The winner of the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship will be from North America, according to three NHL.com writers.

NHL.com deputy managing editor Adam Kimelman, LNH.com staff writer Guillaume Lepage and NHL.com staff writer Mike G. Morreale each predict Canada and the United States will play in the gold-medal game. Kimelman and Lepage believe Canada will win, while Morreale is picking the U.S.

Canada won the 2022 WJC in August; no team has won consecutive tournaments since Canada won five straight from 2005-09.

The U.S. last won the WJC in 2021, when it defeated Canada in the final game.

Since the current format was adopted in 1996, the United States has won four of the five times its played Canada in the gold-medal game (2004, 2010, 2017, 2021). Canada won in 1997.

Each writer also made his pick for best goalie, best forward and best defenseman at the tournament. They also chose the top 2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft prospect, but with a twist — they couldn’t choose Canada forward Connor Bedard, the projected No. 1 pick.

The 2023 WJC will be held Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Moncton, New Brunswick. The 10 teams will play in two groups. Group A consists of Canada, Sweden, Czechia, Germany and Austria and will play its preliminary-round games at Scotiabank Centre in Halifax. The United States, Finland, Switzerland, Slovakia and Latvia are in Group B, with its preliminary-round games at Avenir Centre in Moncton.

The top four finishes in each group will play in the quarterfinals Jan. 2. The semifinals are Jan. 4, and the championship and third-place games are Jan. 5.

All games will be broadcast live on NHL Network in the United States and TSN and RDS in Canada.

Kimelman predictions

Group A winner: Canada

Group B winner: United States

Champion: Canada

Second: United States

Third: Finland

Surprise star: Caedan Bankier, F, Canada

Best goalie: Niklas Kokko, Finland

Best defenseman: Simon Nemec, Slovakia

Best forward: Connor Bedard, Canada

Top 2023 NHL Draft eligible player (other than Bedard): Adam Fantilli, F, Canada

Lepage predictions

Group A winner: Canada

Group B winner: United States

Champion: Canada

Second: United States

Third: Finland

Surprise star: Nathan Gaucher, F, Canada

Best goalie: Thomas Milic, Canada

Best defenseman: Olen Zellweger, Canada

Best forward: Connor Bedard, Canada

Top 2023 NHL Draft eligible player (other than Bedard): Leo Carlsson, F, Sweden

Morreale predictions

Group A winner: Canada

Group B winner: United States

Champion: United States

Second: Canada

Third: Czechia

Surprise star: Filip Mesar, F, Slovakia

Best goalie: Tomas Suchanek, Czechia

Best defenseman: Luke Hughes, United States

Best forward: Connor Bedard, Canada

Top 2023 NHL Draft eligible player (other than Bedard): Adam Fantilli, F, Canada

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