The IIHF World Juniors tournament begins today with a pair of Golden Knights draft picks set to suit up for Team Sweden. The 15th overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft defenseman Erik Brannstrom and 5th round pick (#127) forward Lukas Elvenes will play for one of the tournament favorites. (UPDATE: Elvenes was removed from the roster prior to the tournament.)
We’ve fawned over Brannstrom since the moment we first got to watch him take the ice at the Las Vegas Ice Center for the Golden Knights Development Camp. Then he wowed at the Summer Showcase in Detroit about a month later. This season he’s been playing in the Swedish Elite League with HV71.
You thought we were excited about Brannstrom, look at what TSN’s Craig Button had to say on the Golden Knights official podcast “Sherrif, Lawless and Some Guy Named Dave.”
Erik is an unbelievable player. When you watch the game, he’s impossible to forecheck because he’s so quick with his mind and his feet that you can’t get in on him. So what does that do, that backs everybody off. Then you get him in transition, he’s quick, he’s fast, he can make plays on the move. Then you put him in the offensive zone, unbelievable poise, unbelievable vision, the ability to make passes under sticks through skates, create all kinds of scoring chances, and he does everything on the move. Nothing about Erik Brannstrom is pre-ordained, so he sees an opening, bang he takes it. So if he’s going to read off the play, how the heck are you able to defend against him when he’s not sure what he’s going to do because he’s going to take what’s given to him. He’s an elite elite player and this is an elite tournament. So I expect him to be like I always see him, right at the upper level of players in this tournament. You know what else he’s got too, he’s got tremendous confidence. There’s nothing he thinks that he can’t do in the game and that’s significant. -Craig Button, TSN Scout