UFWJ Preview: Inaugural Tournament Offers Intrigue, Excitement Among Countries Competing for Podium

Updated: Jan 2

Who’s going to be golden? That’s the million-dollar question entering the inaugural Ultimate Fantasy World Juniors tournament on the UFFS platform.

With $10K USD worth of Score Coin (SCO) at stake, along with physical medals, the 10 UFWJ countries will be competing for more than bragging rights as the first-ever champion in this revolutionary World Juniors dynasty league.

There will be a silver lining for one nation and another will be bronzed but all these countries are gunning for gold from the outset following a successful UFWJ Draft where they selected 25-man rosters — giving value to every player at this year’s World Juniors — plus 5-man protected lists for future tournaments. The first three rounds are recapped in this UFWJ Preview Show:

Fans can also get involved by submitting their medal winners for the UFWJ/WJC Predictions Contest, with $500 USD worth of SCO up for grabs! It is free to enter — simply predict gold, silver and bronze for both tournaments — and the deadline is Dec. 26 at 2 p.m. ET prior to the start of the first WJC game on Boxing Day.

The World Juniors are always a guessing game but fans can make educated guesses for UFWJ by familiarizing themselves with the scoring system:

Armed with that knowledge and understanding that UFWJ countries can trade until New Year’s Day — the trade deadline is Jan. 1 at 11:59 p.m. ET prior to the WJC medal round — it’s time to take a look at the UFWJ rosters coming out of the draft, with the countries listed in the order that they selected over all 30 rounds.

OWNER(S): Seven Seas Blockchain Sports, Alex Muchinsky (Mooch) and Thomas (Tommy) Cordon

GM/STAFF: Jeff Rea and Mik Portoni from Draftin Europe as co-GMs

OWNER(S): Jope and the Bachul family

GM/STAFF: George Bachul as GM, with his son Kevin Bachul as assistant GM

OWNER(S): Dean Millard, Craig Button and Ian Constable

GM/STAFF: Craig Button as GM, with Dean Millard and Ian Constable as assistant GMs

OWNER(S): Jeremy Plamondon, Mike Mohr and the Leblanc family (Alex and his father Jeff)

GM/STAFF: Gabe Foley as GM

OWNER(S): EliteProspects.com

GM/STAFF: Rob Love, Ed Palumbo and the EP Rinkside team

OWNER(S): CanWest Fantasy Sports Group, Curtis Johnson and twin brother Chad Johnson (former NHL goaltender)

GM/STAFF: Curtis Johnson as GM, Harrison Fallow as assistant GM, Chad Johnson as advisor

OWNER(S): Dale Hardy

GM/STAFF: Dale Hardy

OWNER(S): Six-man ownership group featuring four professional athletes from three different sports:

Dan Esposito — former NFL player with Philadelphia Eagles, part of NFL alumni association

Dave (The Hammer) Schultz — NHL record-holder for most PIMs in a single season

Brady Kramer — drafted by Montreal Canadiens in 1991, captained Providence College

Matt Oglesby — decade-long career in National Lacrosse League (1996-2005)

Andy Weintraub — no pro experience as an athlete but friend of the aforementioned four

Luke Shonwise — late addition to ownership group, familiarity from UFHL Eliminators

GM/STAFF: Group effort, with Shonwise making most of the roster selections

OWNER(S): Crown Sports, Tieran and Ireland Charanduk

GM/STAFF: Arnie Entz from Pipeline Prospects and UFHL Royals as GM, Jason Melnyk and Brent Baldwin as assistant GMs

OWNER(S): Joseph Perez, along with Gumpa Sports & Entertainment Group (Rob Conte, Paul Ceccomancini, Nelson Martins of UFHL Godfathers, UFAHL Enforcers and Wise Guys Prospects scouting agency)

GM/STAFF: Gumpa Group overseeing hockey operations

Those players will decide the medals at this year’s tournament — both UFWJ and WJC — but it’s also important to highlight the prospects that were selected to Protected Lists for future tournaments. These prospects were eligible to be picked in any round throughout the draft, adding to the strategy and providing the dynasty element in addition to potential returnees. Benjamin Gaudreau was the first protected player off the board in the 14th round, 134th overall, followed by Cole Eiserman and Matthew Wood in the 15th round as the Top 3.


Fisher’s Predictions

When it comes to predictions, the UFWJ tournament is tougher to predict than the WJC because there is more parity with the talent pool distributed quite evenly across all 10 countries and thus more medal contenders.

Republic of the Seven Seas is obviously young but loaded for the future — and that future might be now for some of their impact players, including first overall pick Matvei Michkov. Age is only a number and their forwards, in particular, could prove to be ahead of their time on this stage. And they might have the tournament’s Top Defender in Jake Sanderson to lead their medal charge.

Midgard didn’t get a starting goaltender and might bring up the rear as a result but isn’t bad by any means and has Aron Kiviharju to anchor their future blue line. Midgard should have a nice core of returnees for next year, which could be their year to challenge for a medal.

Scorway is also built more for the future but could do damage in the present, led by Alexander Holtz as a candidate for tournament MVP. Scorway has some volume shooters, so they shouldn’t be ruled out of medal contention.

UCan Republic did well picking from the back of the pack, looking like a legitimate medal contender — especially if Yaroslav Askarov can exercise his WJC demons and backstop Russia to a medal. UCan Republic is well balanced, with a few forward steals from the middle rounds, and is also fairly deep on defence.

Monstopia is on Sweden’s bandwagon — taking Jesper Wallstedt and Simon Edvinsson with their first- and third-round picks — but they took quality forwards from Canada, the United States and Russia as well. Monstopia could make some noise this year but might be even better next year with a number of returnees and some high upside prospects on their protected list, including a couple more Swedes.

Anarchia could have the golden goalie in Sebastian Cossa to go with a potent Swedish trio up front and some promising American skaters. Cossa and their top three on defence could be the key to medalling or finishing in the Top 5 with this year’s Total Points format.

East End took an interesting approach to their goaltending — that could make or break their medal hopes — but they boast the deepest forward group and a decent defence too. If those forwards can outscore the competition and their goaltenders don’t have a negative impact, East End could end up topping the podium or certainly bringing home a medal.

Valtakunia arguably has the next-best depth at forward and also stacks up well on defence, with Drew Commesso as more of a sure thing in goal. If the defending champion Americans win another medal — of any colour this year — Valtakunia will have a good chance of medalling too. If Connor Bedard winds up with a prominent role, Valtakunia could become the favourite.

CanWest has candidates for the tournament’s Top Forward in Matty Beniers and the Top Defender in Topi Niemela, plus two presumed starting goalies to rack up points between the pipes. CanWest is icing a quality lineup top to bottom, with some later-round sleepers capable of exceeding expectations to secure a medal.

Eliteprospectia was elated when Shane Wright fell into their lap at fifth overall and also landed Owen Power at 15th overall for a stellar start to their draft. Goaltending could be their downfall depending on Czechia’s deployment, but their top-six forwards are as good as it gets and they have Shakir Mukhamadullin and Luca Munzenberger complementing Power on the back end for the makings of a medal winner.

Without further ado, here are my medal predictions for UFWJ:

As for the WJC, I foresee a rematch of last year’s gold-medal game — when the Americans blanked Canada 2-0, backstopped by Spencer Knight — but Cossa flips the script on his home ice in Edmonton, with Canada prevailing over the United States. Sweden wins bronze over Russia in my WJC medal predictions:

Gold — Canada

Silver — USA

Bronze — Sweden

Who do you got for WJC and UFWJ gold? How about silver and bronze? Be sure to enter the UFWJ/WJC Predictions Contest for a chance to win free SCO!

Best of luck to all the UFWJ countries competing in this historic tournament!

 

Follow on Twitter: @TheUFWJ @TheUFIH @TheUFHL @UFHL_Scouting @UFFSports

Join our UFFS Hockey Chat group on Telegram: https://t.me/UFFSHockey

Join our UFWJ group to talk all things World Juniors: https://t.me/TheUFWJ

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