One of the most thrilling hockey events kicks off during the Christmas break with the 2018 IIHF WJC. This tournament is held every year for players under the age of 20 and the teams are made up of the best junior hockey players from countries all over the world. This is a very underrated betting event because of past dominance by countries like Canada and Russia. Times have changed now and it is not uncommon to see major upsets with great odds hitting the board.
Here are the current 2018 IIHF World Junior outright winner odds from our partners at Bovada.com:
Our Pick To Win the 2018 WJC
Since their dominance between 2005 and 2009 at the WJC, Canada has only won the gold medal once (2015). Losing last year 5-4 to the U.S. in a shootout no doubt makes them hungry coming into this year to try and once again re-capture the gold medal which would bring their total count to 17.
So you must be thinking well Canada is our pick then? Nope, our pick to win the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship outright is:
While Canada certainly has their motivation this year so does Sweden who was left with a very bitter taste in their mouths after last year's 4th place finish and heartbreaking loss in OT to Russia for the bronze medal. At this point Sweden is a +350 to win the whole damn thing and compared to other favorites like Canada (+175) and the United States (+150) we think it is a steal to be getting those kind of odds with this Swedish team that has just as a legit shot to win the tournament as the other top 2 countries.
Sweden already a solid team of young superstars but then the news just got better when the Buffalo Sabres decided to loan Alex Nylander from their AHL affiliate to join team Sweden. Nylander was last year’s #8 pick overall in the NHL entry draft and has 21 points in 14 previous World Junior Tournament games. Oh and by the way this years WJC tourney is being held in Buffalo so Nylander will be playing in front of a somewhat hometown crowd. He joins a team that already has the future number #1 draft pick in 2018, defenceman Rasmus Dalhin. He has been compared to Brian Leetch and Nicklas Lidstrom and is no doubt the best defenceman in the tournament hands down.
Rasmus Dalhin will be paired with last year’s 15th overall pick Erik Brannstrom who has captained Sweden in the U17 and U18 teams and is arguably the 2nd best defenseman only next to his playing partner Dalhin. So right off the bat Sweden is stacked on the blue-line with those two and the rest of their defence corp are no slouches who should hold their own going against the other powerful countries like Canada.
Looking at the forwards, joining Nylander will be New Jersey Devils prospect Jespen Boqvist (36th pick overall) who has the skills for highlight reel goals and last year’s 5th overall pick Elias Pettersson who has been playing solid hockey in the Swedish Elite League this year. They will be full of speed up front but what we love best about the forwards is their ability to play fundamental 2-way hockey with players like Tim Soderlund and Marcus Davidsson.
With Sweden you always wonder how their goaltending will hold up but this year all 3 of their goalies are NHL draft picks that are playing above average in their respective leagues and show no indication that they will falter any time soon.
When you look at their roster full of future NHL superstars like Dahlin, Brannstrom and Nylander it is hard not to fall in love with this teams chances. In fact, only 6 players of their entire 27 man roster have not been drafted yet. And one of those (Dahlin) is the future #1 pick in the 2018 entry draft hands down, no questions asked. Sweden has not won gold since 2012 and they are coming in angry, hungry and full of talent. At +350, they are our best bet to win the 2018 IIHF WJC.