Here’s a look at how the Arizona Coyotes were represented at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship.
The Arizona Coyotes were represented by three players in the 2021 World Junior Championship in Edmonton – Aku Raty (Finland), Victor Soderstrom (Sweden) and John Farinacci (USA).
Coming into last season Victor Soderstrom was ranked as the Coyotes Top Prospect while Farinacci and Raty mostly flew under the radar. The World Juniors has always been an incredible tournament with a lot of young talent. It is a good tournament for prospects set to be drafted or already in an NHL system to put a lot of highly competitive game tape on film for coaches and scouts to see.
The tournaments are always very competitive and when you consider the fact that kids are playing for their country it adds that extra element of excitement to games. This year the Coyotes only had three representatives and some made a bigger impact than others. I will start with Aku Raty out of Finland.
3. Aku Raty, F, Finland
A Fifth Round Draft pick in 2019, Raty spent the season playing for Karpat of SM-Liiga. He tallied only 2 goals and 5 assists in 32 games, and in just 4 games this year he was yet to record a point. Raty has fared well though in his two World Junior Championship appearances, finishing with two goals, one assist and three points in seven games in each of the last two years. Finland beat Russia in the Bronze Medal game handedly and, though he didn’t tally a point, Raty was still around the puck a lot and played a pretty solid game.
Coming into this year Raty was looked at as a very low end prospect but his game continues to improve. With experiences at tournaments like the WJC, look for Raty to continue to improve and move up the prospect rankings. His ceiling may very well just be a bottom six forward in the NHL, but it never hurts to have a solid AHL/NHL guy that you can call up after an injury or be able to move around the lineup.
2. Victor Soderstrom, D, Sweden
The top prospect in the Arizona Coyotes system, Soderstrom has made a quick rise through the ranks in his young career. He has dominated in every league he has played in, excelling as a prototypical right-handed defenseman with a touch for the puck and sense for the game. In this year’s World Juniors, as a 21-year-old Sodestrom tallied 5 assists in 5 games and a +1 as Sweden lost to Finland in the Quarter-Finals. Sodestrom continued his stellar WJC play from a year ago where he tallied 6 points in 7 games.
The 21-year-old has shown a real knack for distributing the puck and creating scoring opportunities for teammates, evidence of the 10 assists in 12 games in his WJC career. The young defenseman will need to work on his defensive play and his scoring touch, but his nose for the game and playmaking abilities are very impressive. Arizona is hoping he is the future No.1 defenseman for many years to come and, if he continues on the path he is on, then that should happen sooner rather than later.
1. John Farinacci, F, USA
Winning a Gold Medal for your country is the dream of every athlete across every sport. In his first year representing his country, the 2019 Third-Round pick tallied a point per game and finished tied for second on the team with 5 goals. Team USA fell to Russia in their first game of the tournament but then went on to win out the rest of the tournament, including a 2-0 shutout against Team Canada in the Gold Medal game.
Farinacci was very impressive in his first ever WJC tournament. He showed confidence with the puck and the ability to shoot the puck from any angle, which the Arizona Coyotes roster has lacked for quite sometime. A very unsung prospect, the young forward has shown out very quickly out of nowhere and has put the franchise on notice. He already, in my opinion, has a better scoring touch than half of the roster. Given some time to develop further and mature there’s a chance Farinacci could be a second-line winger or a third or fourth-line center on a decent NHL roster.
The Coyotes prospect pool has been quite shallow for the last few years and it is evident by the emergence of two Third-Round picks in Aku Raty and John Farinacci having breakout performances in the last couple of months. However, the Yotes are still lacking that high-end talent in the system aside from Barrett Hayton, who has already played some games with the big club, and Victor Sodestrom.
New GM Bill Armstrong has a real uphill battle ahead of him as former GM John Chayka left this franchise in more ruins than the usual dumpster fire that is the Arizona Coyotes organization. Armstrong will look to bring a sturdy foundation and championship presence he once helped build in St. Louis Blues, and having these three prospects in the pipeline will help him to achieve that.