The Nashville Predators have a stacked farm system loaded with high-end prospects, some of which stand a solid shot of making the cut for the 2024 IIHF World Junior Championship in Gothenburg, Sweden in December.
Corey Pronman and Scott Wheeler of The Athletic believe a quartet of future Predators — Matthew Wood, Joakim Kemell, Jesse Kiiskinen and Kasper Kulonnumi — will make the final rosters for both Finland and Canada.
Wheeler favors Kemell in a top-line role for Finland next to St. Louis Blues center Aleksanteri Kaskimaki and Seattle Kraken winger Jani Nyman.
Here’s your daily reminder that Joakim Kemell is really good at this hockey thingpic.twitter.com/daZXcnb2A1
— Michael Gallagher (@MGsports_) June 2, 2023
He also believes Kiiskinen will slot in on Finland’s third line with Minnesota Wild center prospect Rasmus Kumpulainen and Tommi Mannisto, and Kulonummi, who logged one assist with four penalty minutes in four games at the showcase, will play on Finland’s second defensive pairing with Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Emil Pieniniemi.
Kiiskinen and Kulonummi both represented Finland at the World Junior Summer Showcase nearly two weeks ago.
“Joakim Kemell is the star, if he’s not lighting it up in Milwaukee or Nashville, the Predators are OK lending him, and he’s interested in going to a third world juniors,” Wheeler said. “The expectation is that Kasper Halttunen, Jesse Nurmi, Rasmus Kumpulainen and Jesse Kiiskinen, the four players who’ve really carried the load offensively for their 2005s internationally, will round out the group.”
Matthew Wood (2023) continues his impressive draft-eligible campaign with UConn.
Finished this breakaway off for his 5th of the season. He's up to 10 points in 12 NCAA games.
This 2023 class is alright. pic.twitter.com/WPRCpgyShN
— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) November 12, 2022
While Canada didn’t participate in the summer showcase, choosing to host a Program of Excellence summer meeting in lieu of the tournament, Wood is a front-runner to make Canada’s top six. Pronman sees him playing on the team’s second line with Detroit Red Wings center prospect Nate Danielson, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2023 draft, and Macklin Celebrini, the projected top pick in the 2024 draft.
“If Canada wants an older player in the top nine, Jagger Firkus would be a strong candidate in that scenario although it creates an odd situation where there are an excessive number of right-shots in the top nine,” Pronman said. “He could push Jordan Dumais or Matthew Wood for a spot as well. Ideally, they would probably want more size in this lineup, especially at the bottom parts.”
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_