As we rapidly approach the holiday break, many hockey fans turn their attention to the World Junior Hockey Championship (WJC). Winnipeg Jets fans will get the opportunity to witness three Jets’ prospects, all of whom have a chance to make a big impact.
Winnipeg Jets’ prospects Brad Lambert, Chaz Lucius, and Rutger McGroarty are all ready to be key players for their countries. Lambert will suit up for Finland, and both Lucius and McGroarty will represent the United States.
While fans are likely aware of what led to their selection, let’s recap what their seasons have looked like prior to their tournament appearances.
Winnipeg Jets: Brad Lambert
After wowing fans in the preseason, Lambert found his way to the forefront of prospect talk for the Jets. Now, after a brief stint with the Manitoba Moose, Lambert is off to Halifax/Moncton to represent Finland in the WJC.
It’s been a bit of a rocky start for the 19-year-old, mainly due to an unfortunate stretch of both injury and illness. Now, Lambert looks to shake off the rust and play a big role as the team’s second-line center.
If pre-tournament lines are any indication, Lambert looks to be centering Joakim Kemell (NSH – 17th pick, 2022) and Aleksanteri Kaskimaki (STL – 73rd pick, 2022). Both players should work well with the skill of Lambert, which could help the Finns add some valuable scoring depth.
Lambert’s 2022-23 Season
As he leaves the Moose, Lambert pauses his American Hockey League with a season total of three points in 14 games. The totals aren’t necessarily indicative of his play, as he has yet to establish a consistent stretch of games due to several absences.
At his best, Lambert is an elite talent. His skill is among the best in the WJC, but it remains to be seen if he is able to be a dominant figure at the tournament. In his 2022 tournament appearance, Lambert registered one point in five games and was the subject of some scrutiny from his coach.
What to Expect
This will be the first year that Lambert enters the tournament after playing in a North American system, which should help him settle in a bit more. In his time with Lahti in Finland, that team was very chaotic with very little structure. Perhaps with more structure to his game, he will excel in a tournament with players his age.
If Lambert can shake off the rust and stay healthy, he has a chance to be a real impact player for Finland. The real key for Lambert is how he fits into the Finnish system. If he can utilize his experience from the Jets and Moose, he should be primed for a big tournament.