First off, congrats to the American U-20 team for its gold medal performance at the World Junior Hockey Championship. That was one of the most impressive WJC performances we’ve seen in some time and produced a final with Canada that ranks among the best ever at the tournament.

Normally the general rule at the world juniors is whomever has the best collection of 19-year-olds wins. And mostly that was a fair representation this year with the U.S. icing an elite level of ’97s and ’98s. But this is also a tournament that gives many fans and hockey observers their first chance to take in some of the crop of draft-eligibles whose names will be called early in that years draft.

So, before we get to the rankings let’s take a quick look at how some of those kids fared.

Nico Hischier
And now the secret is out. When the gold-medal champion coach names the best player his team saw all tournament, you’d figure he’d be talking about a 19-year old WJC vet, but in this case Bob Motzko was talking about Switzerland's Hischierd. And for good reason.

The phenom almost single-handedly bumped the U.S. out of medal contention and had fans in Montreal cheering and the player trending on Twitter. He centered Switzerland's top line and faced opponents' toughest, high-end defenders the entire tournament. The tournament's leading scorers—Kirill Kaprizov (MIN), Alex Nylander (BUF), Clayton Keller (ARI), etc.—all played seven games, but right in the thick of the scoring race was Hischier, despite playing only five contests.