What determines all-star quality? Is it a single virtuoso performance? Is it tied to longevity and excellence at multiple tournaments? Or, as per the default in hockey culture, is it about team success?
We’ve used a combination of those factors to come up with our six-member All-Decade Team. While some of these players have gone on to star in the NHL and the IIHF World Championship, the all-star selections center on what they accomplished between 2010 and 2019 at the World Juniors.
There were many other strong candidates, including – among others – Canada’s Max Domi, Jordan Eberle, Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Brayden Schenn; Finland’s Sebastian Aho, Patrik Laine, Jesse Puljujarvi, Rasmus Ristolainen, and Juuse Saros; Russia’s Kirill Kaprizov and Alexander Romanov; Slovakia’s Denis Godla; Sweden’s Sebastian Collberg, Filip Forsberg, and Alexander Nylander; and the U.S.’s Johnny Gaudreau, John Gibson, Auston Matthews, Derek Stepan, and Jacob Trouba.
Let the debate begin!
Goal: Andrei Vasilevski (Russia)Andrei Vasilevski co-holds the record for most career wins (11) and most medals won by a goalie at the World Juniors (3). In the latter category, it certainly isn’t the fault of the towering Ufa-trained netminder that none of them were gold (2012 silver, 2013 bronze, 2014 bronze).
Vasilevski, now 25, had the tournament’s best or second-best save percentage at all three of his World Juniors. Scant wonder that he went on to be named Best Goalie at two of the last three Worlds (2017, 2019) and won the Vezina Trophy with the Tampa Bay Lightning this year.
Defence: Ryan Ellis (Canada)After winning gold at his first World Juniors in Ottawa 2009, Canada’s Ryan Ellis set the standard for two-way defensive excellence in his second and third tournaments as well.
This ultra-mobile future Nashville Predator remains the all-time leading scorer among World Junior defencemen (5+20=25). And even if you only count 2010 and 2011 (the two-time Memorial Cup champion with the Windsor Spitfires earned a silver medal each year and was named Best Defenceman and an all-star in 2011), Ellis would still rank second (4+14=18 in 13 games) behind Finland’s Reijo Ruotsalainen (9+12=21 in 24 games) with a superior points-per-game average in a more defensive era.
Defence: Thomas Chabot (Canada)No other World Junior blueliner has been named MVP, Best Defenceman and an all-star at the same tournament. In 2017, Thomas Chabot (4+6=10) could scarcely have done more to help Canada as the host nation finished second in Montreal with a heartbreaking 5-4 shootout loss to the Troy Terry-led Americans.
Presaging his future as a minutes monster for the Ottawa Senators, the Saint John Sea Dogs veteran logged an amazing 43:53 in the gold medal game at the Bell Centre. By comparison, his partner Kale Clague had the game’s second-highest ice time at 37:27. We might go another decade without seeing another performance of Chabot’s calibre.
Forward: Yevgeni Kuznetsov (Russia)Admittedly, Yevgeni Kuznetsov’s career fell under a cloud when the Russian star was suspended from IIHF competition for four years after a doping code violation. However, what he did in 2011 and 2012 as a two-time all-star remains arguably the most dominant World Junior stretch by any forward this decade.
Long before he led the NHL playoffs in scoring with the 2018 Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals, Kuznetsov’s jaw-dropping skills carried Russia to the 2011 gold medal in Buffalo. He saved coach Valeri Bragin’s team at every turn. He scored two goals, including the overtime winner, and added an assist in a 4-3 quarter-final comeback win over Finland. In the final, he had three assists in an even more improbable rally as Russia potted five unanswered third-period goals to stun Canada 5-3.
Although Kuznetsov settled for silver versus Sweden in Calgary in 2012, he had more points (13, versus 2011’s 11), including an unbelievable nine-point outing in a 14-0 romp over Latvia – one point shy of Peter Forsberg’s single-game record (10).
Forward: Teuvo Teravainen (Finland)With three gold medals, Finland truly joined the elite tier of perennial World Junior contenders in the 2010’s. What made captain Teuvo Teravainen’s performance in 2014 so special compared to the feats of the 2016 and 2019 championship teams?
The future 2015 Stanley Cup champion with the Chicago Blackhawks performed miracles as Suomi got its first gold since the 1998 run in Helsinki. He totalled a tournament-leading 15 points, including eight points in three playoff games. Most crucially, Teravainen ringed the puck around to Rasmus Ristolainen for the 3-2 overtime golden goal against archrival Sweden in Malmo.
The Jokerit-trained playmaker didn’t have a celebrated supporting cast like Laine, Aho and Puljujarvi in 2016 or Kaapo Kakko, Eeli Tolvanen and Anton Lundell in 2019. Yet Teravainen made history as he surpassed his 11 points from his 2013 World Junior debut.
Forward: Troy Terry (USA)In 2017, the U.S. became the first nation to win three gold medals in the 2010’s – an achievement reserved in past decades for Canada and the Soviet Union. And when that coming-of-age occurred for the Americans, who had historically been a more reliable source of first-round picks than of IIHF titles, Troy Terry made the spotlight his own.
The 2015 fifth-round pick of the Anaheim Ducks likely won’t go down in history as an all-time American NHL great. Yet when all the chips were down in Montreal, this ultra-cool forward epitomized the evolution of modern hockey into a skill-first game. Terry shares the distinction with Canada’s Jonathan Toews (in 2007) of being the only player to get both the semi-final and final winners in a World Junior gold medal run. No one else has ever done it in shootouts both times, and Terry will continue to stand alone since gold medal games are now decided strictly by overtime.
Terry’s shootout hat trick – pure five-hole magic, every move different – against Russia’s Ilya Samsonov saved his team’s bacon in a 4-3 semi-final win. He made it 4-for-4 with the lone shootout marker on Canada’s Carter Hart in the wild 5-4 gold medal victory. The University of Denver star has never recaptured these heights, either in the NHL or the 2018 Olympics, but his World Junior tour de force will never be forgotten.