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UFWJ Preview: Medal Favourites Emerge for Inaugural Tournament With Plenty of Podium Contenders

Ultimate Fantasy World Juniors is ready to drop the puck again on this innovative dynasty league for the World Junior Championship.

With a supplementary draft replacing a third of the players that are not returning from the December tournament — more than 90 of the 250 — the UFWJ countries aren’t as strong on paper as the inaugural rendition but a couple appear to be frontrunners among a handful of other podium contenders.

We’ll save those medal predictions for last, but check out the UFWJ Preview Show for insights on every country’s chances based on before and after roster comparisons.

This preview will also highlight the returnees, the reinforcements, and the key losses for each country heading into the UFWJ tournament that starts today with a total points format through the medal round. For those interested, here is a look back at the December rosters to compare and contrast and draw your own conclusions.

Republic of the Seven Seas

Decimated beyond their depleted rivals, Republic of the Seven Seas lost their top three picks — including first overall selection Matvei Michkov — and all eight defenders in having to fill 17 spots on their 25-man roster. That was by far the most of any country, and suddenly without seven of their Top 10 selections from December, Republic of the Seven Seas was dealt a blow too big to overcome.

Already built for the future, Republic of the Seven Seas approached the Supplementary Draft with an eye towards the 2023 tournament this winter by targeting likely returnees rather than one-and-done ringers for this summertime showcase. That meant taking Brennan Othmann and Sean Behrens over Aatu Raty and Thomas Bordeleau with their top two picks. That strategy can be debated in the present but Republic of the Seven Seas has reloaded for the future.


Stealing Bordeleau in the second round — with their first pick, at seventh overall — Valtakunia emerged as a favourite for gold and looking like a lock to medal, with a strong returning core led by Connor Bedard, Mason McTavish and Luke Hughes. That dynamic duo on Canada’s top line makes Valtakunia the team to beat despite their lack of goaltending. This country boasts enough firepower to outscore the competition.

East End

Can Raty offset the loss of Cole Perfetti? That is a decent trade-off for East End, who are now loaded with Finns and Canadians as sure medal contenders, while returning their entire defense group. Their goaltending will suffer without the relegation round, but those Finns could pave the way for a podium finish. Kent Johnson could be the tournament MVP, and if he plays to his potential, East End could come out on top.