2013 World Junior Championships Will Help Hockey Fans Forget About NHL Lockout

Nicholas GossCorrespondent IDecember 17, 2012

Team Canada at the 2012 World Junior Championships
Team Canada at the 2012 World Junior ChampionshipsRichard Wolowicz/Getty Images

The NHL lockout continues to go on with very little new information for fans to be excited about, but the wait for exciting and competitive hockey will not last much longer.

The 2013 World Junior Championships, which will be played from December 26 through January 5 in Russia, will satisfy hockey fans' demands for quality hockey.

This tournament is awesome for the fans, and this year could be extra special. If the NHL weren't in a lockout right now, several of the top players eligible for this tournament would probably be with their NHL teams.

Since we do have a lockout, an eligible player like Edmonton Oilers star Ryan Nugent-Hopkins can play in this tournament, which he wouldn't be able to do during an NHL regular season.

The lockout could make this one of the best World Junior Championships in recent memory, and a quick look at Group B will give hockey fans some awesome matchups to look forward to.

Group A Group B
Sweden Russia
Finland Canada
Czech Republic Slovakia
Switzerland United States
Latvia Germany

The games between Canada, the United States and Russia will give fans the intense hockey they have craved since the end of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.

These nations always provide fans with plenty of excitement during the Winter Olympics, and the World Junior Championships is no different. The rivalries between these teams help create some of the most intense hockey of the season.

Last year's tournament was played in Alberta, where Sweden won the its second gold medal. Russia finished with the silver medal, and Canada's disappointing performance resulted in a bronze medal.

Canada was unable to advance to the gold-medal game because of its 6-5 defeat to Russia in the semifinal, so you can bet that another matchup between these teams in the final rounds this year will be 60 minutes of great hockey.

Another reason NHL fans should watch this tournament is because it will showcase many of the league's top prospects and give us a better idea of how well these young players handle the expectations and pressure that are involved in international competitions.

The amount of talent that will be on display at the 2013 World Junior Championships is extraordinary. Take a look at some top prospects who are expected to play, or are already on their team's roster.

Player Position Home Country NHL Team
Morgan Rielly D Canada Toronto Maple Leafs
Dougie Hamilton D Canada Boston Bruins
Mark Scheifele C Canada Winnipeg Jets
Jonathan Huberdeau LW Canada Florida Panthers
Ryan Strome C Canada New York Islanders
John Gibson G United States Anaheim Ducks
Jacob Trouba D United States Winnipeg Jets
Alex Galchenyuk C United States Montreal Canadiens
Nail Yakupov LW Russia Edmonton Oilers
Mikhail Grigorenko C Russia Buffalo Sabres

That's a list of 10 players who have the talent to become future stars, so if the NHL lockout doesn't end soon, be sure to check out the World Junior Championships.

Many fans are starting to forget about the NHL, and they are looking forward to watching some of the best young players in the world compete in this tournament, one that gives us some of the best hockey moments of each year.

Not having NHL hockey to watch in January may sound like a nightmare for many fans around the world, but the World Junior Championships will give people an opportunity to watch thrilling hockey while we wait for the NHL and NHLPA to end the lockout.