The Arizona Coyotes were well represented at the 2023 World Juniors. A total of five Coyotes prospects represented their countries and had varying degrees of success. Let’s take a look at each of the prospects and the success they had with their team.
LW/RW Adam Zlnka – Slovakia (2022 NHL Draft, 7th round, 204th overall)
Zlnka had 1 assist and averaged 13 minutes of ice time in 5 games as Slovakia placed 6th overall after being eliminated by Canada in the quarter-finals. Despite the mere one point, Zlnka had some close scoring chances, particularly during the game versus the USA when he was all alone against Kaidan Mbereko and against Switzerland when he made a great cross-ice pass to his teammate, Jozef Kmec, who was unable to find the back of the net. If Zlnka had more playing time, he may have been able to produce more. Nonetheless, this was a good showing for him, especially as he is only 18 and could represent Slovakia at the 2024 World Juniors.
LW Julian Lutz – Germany (2022 NHL Draft, 2nd round, 43rd overall)
Lutz had 2 assists and averaged 16 minutes of ice time in 5 games as Germany placed 8th overall after a horrific 11-1 quarterfinals loss to the USA. Lutz’s two points came in Germany’s only win against Austria, which helped them avoid relegation. Thus, Lutz did not deliver upon the hype and potential that others predicted him to have. However, he is still 18, so he still has room and time to grow and reach his full potential.
LW/C Sam Lipkin – USA (2021 NHL Draft, 7th round, 223rd overall)
Lipkin had 1 assist and averaged 9 minutes of ice time in 7 games as USA secured the bronze. Despite not making much of a contribution on the scoreboard, this tournament was a great opportunity for him to develop his game and be a more well-rounded hockey player as he was used more as a role player than an offensive threat- his main role with the Quinnipiac University Bobcats.
C Logan Cooley – USA (2022 NHL Draft, 1st round, 3rd overall)
Cooley was alongside Lipkin to help USA secure the bronze medal. Cooley was an offensive wagon as he recorded 7 goals, 7 assists, and 14 points in 7 games. He ranked second overall in tournament scoring after this unknown, mysterious Canadian player named Conor Bedard. Cooley showed impressive skill and did a really impressive job in setting the tone in the game as he either scored or had a primary assist on the game’s first goal in 5 of the 7 games. He scored the game’s first goal in all of the USA’s playoff games.
For his offensive prowess, Cooley was named to the Media All-Star team. If it weren’t for Canadian superstar (and future Coyotes) Conor Bedard, Cooley would have easily also won the Best Forward Award.
RW/LW Dylan Guenther – Canada (2021 NHL Draft, 1st overall, 9th overall)
I can write forever about how Guenther had a fantastic World Juniors, but I will try to make this short. Here is how Guenther stood out to me during the tournament:
- 7 goals, 3 assists, and 10 points in 7 games, which ranked him tied for sixth overall in tournament scoring
- Scoring two goals in Canada’s gold medal game against Czechia, which included the overtime golden goal game-winner
- Player of the game in the final gold medal game
- His leadership
Guenther’s offensive production and play during the gold medal game demonstrated his ability to elevate his game in high stake games. This will be a large asset when the Coyotes become a true competitive team and are playing meaningful hockey and competing in the playoffs (and hopefully the Stanley Cup). Personally, I feel that his leadership is truly going unnoticed and not credited enough for Canada’s success. Not only did Guenther serve as an alternate captain, but after Canada’s embarrassing 5-2 tournament opener loss to Czechia, which featured two failed Michigan attempts by Adam Fantilli and Bedard, Guenther emphasized the need for the team to play “the right way”, work together collectively, doing the little things, and how they will be unable to “Michigan their way to a final”. After that press conference, Canada did not lose another game.
Coyotes fans should be excited for the future after extraordinary performances by Cooley and Guenther. Guenther also showed potential of being part of the Coyotoes’ future leadership core. Lipkin gained experience playing in a different role. Zlnka and Lutz both gained invaluable experience that could help them down the line.