The Vegas Golden Knights aren’t playing hockey again until Wednesday. Until then, we need to get our fill of the IIHF World Juniors.
That means we get a number of days to watch Erik Brannstrom play some hockey, and he’s off to a great start. The Golden Knights’ third first-round pick (No. 15 overall) scored a goal and tallied an assist for Sweden in their 6-1 victory over Belarus in the opening round of pool play Tuesday.
First, a refresher for those wondering: the World Juniors are an 11-day tournament between 10 of the world's best hockey playing nations which showcases many of the greatest under-20 talent the world has to offer. Those who are allowed to attend by their professional teams, anyway.
Some of the current greats of the game have participated in it. There’s also a chance for hockey fans a chance to watch their favorite prospects. For the Golden Knights, sans Cody Glass and Nick Suzuki, Brannstrom was showcased early in the day along with Lukas Elvenes.
The 18-year-old Swedish defenseman has spent much of this season playing for the SHL's HV71 where he has just six assists in 27 games. Though it must be mentioned that the SHL is a men's league and not the junior league other prospects are playing in.
Here’s a look at how Brannstrom looked today. Stick tap to Janik Beichler for the highlights.
Coming off the bench and jumping into the rush, Brannstrom sniped home his first of the tournament to give Sweden the lead. Which, for most players, would have been the top play of their game, but for Brannstrom it was his assist on Sweden’s fourth goal that was the true gem: a sweet cross-ice saucer pass over a defenders stick right on the tape of New Jersey Devils prospect Jesper Boqvist.
In just two gif’s, roughly 10 combined seconds, Brannstrom demonstrates the vision, creativity, and confidence in ones own ability to not just see a play developing but make that kind of play, which could just as easily been a turnover going the other way (on both occasions), is exactly why the Golden Knights were fortunate to grab Brannstrom at No. 15.
This is just your friendly reminder of how fun he’ll be at the NHL level.