2024 NHL Draft

NHL Prospects To Watch At 2024 Men's World Championship

NHL Prospects To Watch At 2024 Men's World Championship

Will Smith, Ryan Leonard, Jesper Wallstedt and more are among the NHL prospects to watch at the 2024 IIHF Men's World Championship, which begins Friday.

May 10, 2024 by Chris Peters
Will Smith Talks About Gold-Medal Game

The 2024 IIHF Men’s World Championship is due to kick off in Czechia Friday. The three-week tournament will feature one of its most talented fields in recent memory with many NHL stars agreeing to take part with evaluations for the 2026 Winter Olympics well under why for all federations. 

The tournament will also feature a litany of future NHL talents, including several players drafted within the last few years and even a few that are draft eligible in June. Team USA alone includes four players who were also part of the 2024 World Junior Championship gold-medal team. Meanwhile, at least two projected first-round picks for the 2024 NHL Draft will also be competing at the World Championship.

To help you get ready for the tournament, here’s a look at the NHL prospects you should be keeping a close eye on throughout the event in addition to the NHL stars from your favorite teams.

NHL-Affiliated Prospects To Watch At World Championship

Will Smith, C, USA (San Jose Sharks)

Smith still has not announced his intentions for next season as the Sharks certainly want to sign the No. 4 pick from last June who led the NCAA in scoring last season with 71 points. Smith is a dynamic playmaker and USA is expecting to use him as a middle-six center. He will likely play with regular Boston College linemate Ryan Leonard with Team USA. Those two have put together a lot of special performances in a USA jersey at the World Under-18s and World Juniors over the years. They should be fun to watch against pros. San Jose fans are already dreaming about the 1-2 punch of Macklin Celebrini and Will Smith, and they should be.

Ryan Leonard, RW, USA (Washington Capitals)

Leonard was one of the top goal scorers in college hockey last season. He also was offered a chance to join the Washington Capitals right after his season and would have played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He, however, has said he wants to return to school. After Cutter Gauthier was a top scorer for Team USA at last year’s tournament, there’s no reason to think Leonard can’t have a similar impact with how good he was as a freshman this year.

Jesper Wallstedt, G, Sweden (Minnesota Wild)

One of the top goalies not currently in the NHL, Wallstedt is the future of the Minnesota Wild’s net. He will have two NHL goalies on Sweden’s roster to compete with for ice time including Filip Gustavsson, who is ahead of him on Minnesota’s depth chart. Wallstedt has always shone brightest in a Tre Kronor jersey, though, and I’d expect him to get games in this tournament.

Gavin Brindley, RW, USA (Columbus Blue Jackets)

The speedy winger who signed his first NHL deal after two stellar NCAA seasons at Michigan, Brindley will likely play down USA’s lineup. He brings a speed element and grittiness to the table, which should allow him to get playing time as USA will have to have a few healthy scratches each game. Brindley should endear himself to the coaching staff quickly thanks to his tenacity off the puck.

Felix Unger Sorum, C/W, Sweden (Carolina Hurricanes)

The meteoric rise of Unger Sorum should probably be studied. He was a second-round pick for Carolina, yet challenged for a roster spot in training camp and has become a player that can fit into just about any role. He will likely play down Sweden’s lineup, but that could be a good preview for what he’ll be for Carolina down the road.

Vinzenz Rohrer, RW, Austria (Montreal Canadiens)

The unsigned 2022 third-round pick for Montreal, Rohrer returned to Europe last season after two years in the OHL. He played a depth role for ZSC Lions in Switzerland’s top pro league. The jury is still out on what he can ultimately be as an NHL player, but this will be great experience for him.

Oliver Kapanen, C, Finland (Montreal Canadiens)

A scrappy, quick two-way forward, Kapanen had a career year in Liiga with 34 points in 51 games. He also was over a point per game in the playoffs for KalPa. The expectation is he will be a depth forward for Finland at this event, but he’s a prospect that looks ahead of schedule and should be angling pretty hard for a contract from Montreal in the near future.

David Spacek, D, Czechia (Minnesota Wild)

An up-and-down first season of pro hockey was a learning experience for Spacek, who was a top-tier blueliner at the junior level and at the World Juniors two years ago. He showed a lot of growth this year with the Iowa Wild and now gets a chance to prove his mettle with the senior national team at just 21 years old.

Trey Augustine, G, USA (Detroit Red Wings)

Augustine may not get a ton of playing time with Team USA with two NHL goalies in front of him on the depth chart, but being part of this team is a big accomplishment for the 19-year-old. He’s still eligible to play for Team USA at the World Juniors next year and after his golden performance last winter, they have to like their chances. It would be great to see Augustine get some minutes, but this might be more a trip to gain experience by watching the pros.

Dans Locmelis, C, Latvia (Boston Bruins)

Locmelis has been deeply respected in Latvia’s national team system for years. He’s played in three World Juniors and this will already be his second men’s worlds with Latvia. He had a solid freshman season for UMass, but bigger things should be expected of him next year as he moves up the lineup for the Minutemen.

Maksymilian Szuber, D, Germany (Utah Hockey Club)

The former Coyotes have already gotten a lot out of Szuber for him being a sixth-round pick two years ago. The 6-foot-3, left-shot defenseman had a nice season in the AHL and made his NHL debut this season. This will be his second senior world championship and I’d expect him to eat some serious minutes for Germany. He could contend for a roster spot in Utah next season.

Oscar Fisker Molgaard, C, Denmark (Seattle Kraken)

This will be the second senior worlds for Fisker Molgaard and it comes on a season of growth playing for HV71 in Sweden’s top pro league. He will likely play some good minutes for Denmark, which will be very good for experience. I think he could be seeing a contract from the Kraken soon and likely is a year away from coming over to North America.

NHL Draft-Eligible Players To Watch At The World Championship

Konsta Helenius, C, Finland (2024 NHL Draft)

Helenius is joining exclusive company by making Finland’s senior team as a U18 player. He already played in the World Juniors and World Under-18s this year, and is expected to potentially play a top-six role at the senior level. Helenius is very likely to go within the first 10 picks of the 2024 NHL Draft, or right in that range. After the fourth-most productive season by a U18 player in Liiga, Helenius will get a chance to make one more great last impression on NHL scouts.

Michael Brandsegg-Nygard, RW, Norway (2024 NHL Draft)

One of the high-compete forwards that has endeared himself to scouts with his work ethic this season, Brandsegg Nygard will be watched closely in this event. He's been playing pro hockey all season and had some of his best moments during the Allsvenskan qualification series. Now he’ll get a look at his first senior national team and is expected to play a big role.

Stian Solberg, D, Norway (2024 NHL Draft)

Expectations are also high for Solberg in this tournament as the 18-year-old is likely to play significant minutes for the Norwegian team. A stout, physical defender, Solberg has spent all of this season in the Norwegian pro ranks. He showed well enough at the World Juniors to hold the attention of scouts, who will continue watching him closely here. At this point, Solberg appears likely to be a Day 2 pick at the NHL Draft.

How To Watch The 2024 IIHF Men's World Championship

The 2024 IIHF Men's World Championship will air on TSN's family of networks in Canada. Meanwhile, all Team USA games and other select matchups will air on NHL Network in the United States. Additional games from the 2024 Men's World Championship will be streamed on ESPN+ in the United States. The TSN Sports App is due to stream all games in Canada.

NHL Draft 2024 Coverage On FloHockey 

Don’t miss the latest NHL Draft coverage on FloHockey.

Watch ECHL, USHL And More On FloHockey 

FloHockey is the streaming home to some of the best hockey leagues in North America, including the USHL, ECHL and more. Check out the broadcast schedule to watch more hockey.

Join The Hockey Conversation On FloHockey Social