San Jose Sharks fans missed out on seeing 2020 draft pick Thomas Bordeleau compete at the 2021 IIHF World Juniors Championship thanks to COVID-19 precautions, but the club will still be represented at the tournament, which begins exhibition games on Sunday. Four prospects in the Sharks’ system have been named to their home country’s national team to compete at the top men’s juniors level.
The group includes two forwards and two defenders on three different teams. Two are returning from the 2020 World Juniors Championship, while two are making their debut, either entirely or at the Under-20 level. Team Russia is the only team to include multiple Sharks prospects.
These are the four prospects you’ll be able to check out over the next two weeks:
Adam Raska, LW/RW (Czech Republic)
2019-20 Team: Rimouski Océanic (QMJHL)
Age: 19 | Ht: 5-10 | Wt: 168 | Shoots: Right
Drafted in the seventh round (201 overall) of the 2020 NHL Draft, Adam Raska is the lowest-drafted Sharks prospect to play in this year’s World Juniors. The QMJHL winger returned to his native Czech Republic during the extended 2020 off-season, playing primarily in the second-tier men’s league, where he’s put up one assist in 11 games for far.
This is his second year at the top level of World Juniors, going scoreless in five games during last year’s tournament. The 2020 Czech Republic team won just one game. Raska also represented them at the Under-18 level in 2019.
Santeri Hatakka, D (Finland)
2019-20 Team: Ilves (Liiga)
Age: 19 | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 194 | Shoots: Left
The 19-year-old Santeri Hatakka is returning to World Juniors, as well, putting up one assist in seven games before Finland lost to Sweden in the 2020 Bronze Medal game. The Finnish defender also played at the U18 level in 2019. He has been named an alternate captain for this year’s competition.
Prior to quarantining for World Juniors, Hatakka has been helping Ilves top the Liiga, Finland’s first-tier men’s league. He currently has totaled three points (one goal, two assists) in 19 games. Hatakka was a sixth-round pick (184 overall) by the Sharks in 2019.
Artemi Kniazev, D (Russia)
2019-20 Team: Chicoutimi Saguenéens (QMJHL)
Age: 19 | Ht: 5-11 | Wt: 183 | Shoots: Left
Another QMJHL player to return home this season, Artemi Kniazev has played two games at the juniors level (MHL) and five at the second-tier men’s league (VHL) in Russia this year. The high-scoring defender was a second-round pick (48 overall) by the Sharks in 2019.
Surprisingly, this will be Kniazev’s World Juniors debut. He previously won a Bronze Medal with Russia at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
Yegor Spiridonov, C/LW (Russia)
2019-20 Team: Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk (MHL)
Age: 19 | Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 187 | Shoots: Right
Though Yegor Spiridonov was on that Bronze Medal-winning team at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in 2019, that year he also took home silver at the U18 World Juniors, putting up two goals and four assists over seven games. This will be his first time competing in the top level of the competition.
Playing exclusively with Russian leagues, Spiridonov was drafted by the Sharks in the fourth round (108 overall) of the 2019 NHL Draft. He made his KHL debut this year with SKA St. Petersburg, though he’s mostly been playing with their juniors team so far.
The tournament will begin exhibition play on Sunday, Dec. 20, followed with a preliminary round on Christmas Day (Dec. 25) through Dec. 31. The quarterfinals will be on Jan. 2, 2021, followed by the semifinals on Jan. 4. The Bronze and Gold Medal games will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 5.