Watching these World Juniors in a sense feels almost redundant because this year it seems particular apparent that only two teams can IMO legitimately win ; Canada and the US. Now of course this is only one event, an event which is heavily cylical in talent. However, one can't help but feel it seems to represent the growing trends within international ice hockey. Clearly the two North American powers are as strong as ever. Canada is within a golden era IMO of producing talent whilst the US is witnessing a similar trend. Certainly from an American standpoint things are only going to get stronger. You are undoubtedly going to see the % of NHL players of American origin grow in the coming years. The American talent isn't really replacing the Canadian talent however, it is IMO replacing the stagnation we are witnessing in Europe. At this current U-20 event, it is clear no Euro team is really capable of winning this event (Outside of maybe Sweden). Again 1 year isn't a big enough sample size, but this is a growing trend over the last few years. Observations on individual European nations highlight this issue. Russia is clearly struggling. It's number of draft picks is very low year on year (yes, some of it is political). But reading the Russian WJ thread shows that the issue is much deeper than simply the KHL and NHL conflict. Finland has also produced a very low number of NHL picks recently. They haven't medalled at the World Juniors for a quite awhile and though this year they look better, there is still a lack of talent year on year coming out of Finland. I've heard this is largely due to the current system of giving every one a chance rather than truely developing the elite ; a similar problem Sweden ahd ten years ago (or maybe im wrong here). The issue seems to be systematic. The Czechs and Slovaks are no longer elite nations at the Junior level. They would beat one of the big 4 maybe 1 in 10 right now. The problems are well documented but the decline is going to continue until chances are actually made. In 5-10 years time we will see both Senior sides become a shadow of their former powers. Sweden is clearly the exception here ; developing elite talent and depth talent year on year right now. But even then, it still has issues truely beating the North Americans at Junior level because it will always have cyclical talent compared to NA. I know there are now some NHL players from marginal hockey countries, but this small growth is dramtically offset by the decline in talent from major European nations. It is said to see but i definitely think international hockey is actually getting weaker rather than stronger.