Canada celebrates a goal against Sweden during the second period of the title game of the IIHF world junior hockey championships. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
- The World Junior Championship begins December 25th, 2020 on Christmas Day
- The tournament will be held in Edmonton, Canada with the Canadians looking to repeat as champions
- Here are the odds for each of the 10 teams, along with our best bet for the tournament
The World Junior Championship begins one month from today.
The tournament will be played in Edmonton, Alberta, where the defending champion Canadians are the favorites.
IIHF World Junior Championship Odds
Odds from Nov. 25th
Canada has won three of the last six Gold Medals and 18 overall, which is by far the most in tournament history. Let’s explore their chances of making it back-to-back victories to see if there is value in the +120 being offered.
Canadian Roster Could Get Big Boost
Canada was pleasantly surprised when the Chicago Blackhawks announced forward Kirby Dach would be made available to play. While Dach is sure to be a key contributor, all eyes are now on the New York Rangers and Alexis Lafreniere. The number one overall pick in the NHL draft won the MVP last year, leading Canada to gold.
He’s still eligible to play this year, and with the NHL schedule pushed back, it’s likely he could join the team yet again. Lafreniere is not with Canada camp in Red Deer, Alberta but, he will be on the roster if he’s made available.
2. Alexis Lafreniere decision will have to be made by December 6 because he will require arrival, one week with team, and three negative tests BEFORE he can enter bubble, per IIHF rules, on December 13.
— Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) November 22, 2020
Head coach Alex Tourigny has a loaded lineup to work with. In addition to Lafreniere, Canada has six other top 10 picks from the last two NHL drafts. That includes Los Angeles Kings center Quinton Byfield, Anaheim Ducks defenseman Jamie Drysdale, and Winnipeg Jets forward Cole Perfetti were all top 10 selections this year. Avalanche defenseman Bowen Byram and Buffalo Sabres center Dylan Cozens were both top picks last year.
The only real question mark for Canada is in goal. Brett Brochu is one of five goalies in camp vying for the job. He’d be a great choice, but in reality, Canada will be led by their superstar skaters regardless of which goalie wins the spot.
2021 Stanley Cup Odds Tracker
Russia Poses Biggest Threat to Canada
While Canada may not know who will start in goal, the Russians certainly do. They have the best goalie in the tournament in Nashville Predators first-round pick Yaroslav Askarov. He’s 4-3-0 with SKA Saint Petersburg this year with a 0.96 goals against average and .962 save percentage. The numbers aren’t a fluke either. He helped Russia capture the Karjala Cup with wins over Sweden, Finland, and the Czech Republic while posting a 0.98 goals against average and .962 save percentage.
Goalie of the Week, Rookie of the Week, Save of the Month.
Can’t wait to see what’s next for 18-year-old Yaroslav Askarov. #KHLTop10 pic.twitter.com/qy8XNRyxXM
— KHL (@khl_eng) October 3, 2020
Russia often wins with speed and skill up front. In fact, only once in the last 25 years has a Russian won the best goalie award at the tournament. This year, the speed and skill are still there, but now they have the most polished prospect between the pipes as well. If any team is going to provide a threat to the Canadians, it’s likely to be their longest standing hockey rival.
Consider Placing Your Wager Soon
Canada is the deserving favorite, and while +130 may not seem like a lot of value it’s the best the price will get. If you favor the Russians, that price likely won’t improve once they begin steamrolling their way through the round-robin stage. Whichever team you settle on, consider placing your wager well in advance of the tournament. It’s the best strategy to maximize your potential return.
The Pick: Canada (+130)
Ryan has been working at TSN for over eleven years, and is now a lead writer and content producer at That’s Hockey. Over the years, he’s launched and hosted TSN’s first NCAAF podcast, The College Football Show, and been featured on the likes of TSN 1050, Sportscentre, and That’s Hockey 2Nite.