World Junior Championship 2018: Tracking top NHL prospects at the tournament

Projecting the NHL stars of tomorrow is a messy, inexact science.

But if nothing else, the IIHF World Junior Championship, our annual glimpse into the future of hockey, is an introduction to the difference makers who will dominate the NHL in short order. With recent American alumni such as Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel and Clayton Keller, there's a growing buzz in the United States around the world's largest under-20 international tournament.

This year's event in Buffalo, N.Y., is more of the same.

MORE: How the 2018 Olympics might've looked with NHL players

Over the course of the next two weeks, there will be a great many storylines to follow. Many are watching Rasmus Dahlin, the consensus No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft class, to see if he'll follow in the footsteps of top picks before him and dazzle on the ice for a stacked Sweden team.

Reigning gold medal-winner Team USA is loaded with first-round NHL draft picks and 2018 hopefuls. Last year's runner-up, Canada, lacks generational talent like McDavid, but returns an experienced roster with a bitter taste in its mouth following a home-ice shootout defeat by the Americans in the 2017 finale.

Below, Sporting News will track the performance from some of the hottest prospects playing in the the 10-team tournament.

This article will be updated through the Jan. 5 gold medal game to reflect current statistics (via IIHF) and storylines as they develop.

WORLD JUNIORS: How to watch, rosters, tournament schedule

casey-mittlestadt-122617-getty-ftr.jpg

United States

Casey Mittelstadt (C)

Drafted: Sabres (eighth overall, 2017)
Age: 19
WJC stats: 5 GP, 4 goals, 6 assists

Kailer Yamamoto (RW)

Drafted: Oilers (22nd overall, 2017)
Age: 19
WJC stats: 5 GP, 2 goals, 1 assist

MORE: Q&A with Kailer Yamamoto on NHL debut, Connor McDavid, more

Brady Tkachuk (LW)

Drafted: 2018 eligible
Age: 18
WJC stats: 5 GP, 2 goals, 5 assists

Quinn Hughes (D)

Drafted: 2018 eligible
Age: 18
WJC stats: 5 GP, 0 goals, 2 assists

MORE: Introducing Quinn Hughes, the NHL's next hot U.S. defense prospect

Jake Oettinger (G)

Drafted: Stars (26th overall, 2017)
Age: 19
WJC stats: 1-0-0, 2.77 GAA, .836 SV %

carter-hart-122617-getty-ftr.jpg

Canada

Carter Hart (G)

Drafted: Flyers (48th overall, 2016)
Age: 19
WJC stats: 3-0-1, 1.96 GAA, .920 SV%

Victor Mete (D)

Drafted: Canadiens (100th overall, 2016)
Age: 19
WJC stats: 4 GP, 0 goals, 2 assists

SIGN UP to watch select KHL games this season

Sam Steel (C)

Drafted: Ducks (30th overall, 2016)
Age: 19
WJC stats: 5 GP, 3 goals, 3 assists

Cale Makar (D)

Drafted: Avalanche (fourth overall, 2017)
Age: 19
WJC stats: 5 GP, 3 goals, 3 assists

Michael McLeod (C)

Drafted: Devils (12th overall, 2016)
Age: 19
WJC stats: 5 GP, 1 goal, 2 assists

rasmus-dahlin-122617-getty-ftr.jpg

Sweden

Rasmus Dahlin (D)

Drafted: 2018 eligible
Age: 17
WJC stats: 5 GP, 0 goals, 6 assists

Timothy Liljegren (D)

Drafted: Maple Leafs (17th overall, 2017)
Age: 18
WJC stats: 5 GP, 1 goal, 1 assist

Alexander Nylander (RW)

Drafted: Sabres (eighth overall, 2016)
Age: 19
WJC stats: 5 GP, 1 goal, 5 assists

Elias Pettersson (C)

Drafted: Canucks (fifth overall, 2017)
Age: 19
WJC stats: 5 GP, 4 goals, 2 assists

Lias Andersson (C)

Drafted: Rangers, (seventh overall, 2017)
Age: 19
WJC stats: 5 GP, 5 goals, 1 assist

Russia

Klim Kostin (C)

Drafted: Blues (31st overall, 2017)
Age: 18
WJC stats: 5 GP, 5 goals, 3 assists

Andrei Svechnikov (RW)

Drafted: 2018 eligible
Age: 17
WJC stats: 5 GP, 0 goals, 5 assists

eeli-tolvanen-122617-getty-ftr.jpg

Finland

Eeli Tolvanen (RW)

Drafted: Predators (30th overall, 2017)
Age: 18
WJC stats: 5 GP, 1 goal, 5 assists

Miro Heiskanen (D)

Drafted: Stars (third overall, 2017)
Age: 18
WJC stats: 5 GP, 0 goals, 2 assists

Rasmus Kupari (C)

Drafted: 2018 eligible
Age: 17
WJC stats: 5 GP, 0 goals, 0 assists

Olli Juolevi (D)

Drafted: Canucks (fifth overall, 2016)
Age: 19
WJC stats: 5 GP, 1 goal, 3 assists

Kristian Vesalainen (C)

Drafted: Jets (24th overall, 2017)
Age: 18
WJC stats: 5 GP, 2 goals, 4 assists

filip-chytil-122617-getty-ftr.jpg

Czech Republic

Filip Chytil (C/LW)

Drafted: Rangers (21st overall, 2017)
Age: 18
WJC stats: 5 GP, 2 goals, 2 assists

Filip Zadina (LW)

Drafted: 2018 eligible
Age: 18
WJC stats: 5 GP, 5 goals, 1 assist

Martin Necas (C/RW)

Drafted: Hurricanes (12th overall, 2017)
Age: 18
WJC stats: 5 GP, 3 goals, 6 assists

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes