NEWS
09/17/2016 06:32 EDT | Updated 09/18/2017 01:12 EDT

McDavid, Laine and Burns among the intriguing talents to watch in Toronto

Connor McDavid is still just a teenager, but he might be the single biggest draw at a World Cup tournament featuring hockey's best.

A look at an intriguing talent from each of the eight teams competing in Toronto:

Connor McDavid

North America

McDavid, 19, is already a real threat to win the Art Ross Trophy next season as the league's top scorer after posting 48 points in 45 games as a rookie. Before that though comes the two-week tournament in Toronto where the Oilers star will show off his considerable skills against hockey's elite. Maybe most alluring is the prospect of the star from Newmarket, Ont., teaming up with other top youngsters like Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel, Nathan MacKinnon and Johnny Gaudreau. North America might be the team to watch for that reason alone.

Vladimir Tarasenko

Russia

Tarasenko hasn't quite reached the Alex Ovechkin stratosphere of goal-scoring, but he's rapidly moving in that direction for the St. Louis Blues. The 24-year-old hit a career-high with 40 goals last season and his 77 goals over the past two campaigns trail only Ovechkin (103) and Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (79). Tarasenko draws attention every time he steps on the ice. Like Ovechkin, he's an explosive scorer capable of creating something from nothing in an instant. Almost unnoticed as a member of Russia's disappointing 2014 Olympic squad (zero goals), Tarasenko is unlikely to go quietly on the big stage in Toronto.

Patrik Laine

Finland

Laine thought that he and not Matthews should've been the No. 1 overall pick of the 2016 draft, and at the World Cup he'll get his first chance to demonstrate why. An exuberant performer, Laine is coming off an unbelievable year that saw him thrive everywhere: from a championship-winning squad in the Finnish league, where he was playoff MVP, to a gold medal winner on home soil at the world junior championships, to the world championship in Russia, where Finland won silver. Laine only turned 18 in April, but he's already exceptionally confident, on and off the ice, and that makes him an especially enticing figure to watch.

Erik Karlsson

Sweden

No other defenceman in hockey today is quite like the captain of the Ottawa Senators. Karlsson can be mesmerizing to watch for his ability to dish the puck, move with it across the ice and scout possibilities before they emerge as obvious. Over the past five NHL seasons Karlsson has rung up 314 points, 76 more than the next closest defender, Nashville's P.K. Subban. Karlsson put up eight points in six games for Sweden at the 2014 Olympics. When good things are happening for the Swedes it's likely Karlsson is involved and that makes him a focal point for a squad that's a real threat to win.

Leon Draisaitl

Europe

One of only a handful of German players in the NHL, Draisaitl is easily the brightest young star suiting up for a veteran-laden Europe squad. His first full season for the Oilers was hugely promising, as the 20-year-old former No. 3 overall pick rung up 19 goals and 51 points, mostly in McDavid's shadow. Skilled with a sturdy six-foot-one frame, Draisaitl and has been compared to Los Angeles Kings captain Anze Kopitar and the two will get a chance to play alongside one another at the World Cup. The Europeans are rich with veterans like Kopitar, Zdeno Chara and Marian Hossa, but short on excitable young talent. Draisaitl brings that element.

Brent Burns

Canada

With his gap-toothed grin, extravagant beard and unusual personality, there is literally no one in hockey quite like the goofy defenceman from Barrie, Ont. Burns is quite unlike his peers on the ice, too. At six foot five and 230 pounds, Burns is huge, but also terrifically skilled and capable of making something from nothing offensively. A former forward, he hit career highs with 27 goals and 75 points as a defender for the Sharks last season, the latter trailing only Erik Karlsson among those on the back end. Burns brings an air of unpredictably to Canada and adds one more unique weapon to an already imposing power play.

T.J. Oshie

U.S.

Oshie took a star turn at the Olympics in Sochi when he beat Russian goalie Sergei Bobrovsky four times on six shots in the U.S.'s 3-2 preliminary round win. The Mount Vernon, Wash., native is a rambunctious sort prone to drawing the ire of opponents and he has a knack for the back of the net, hitting a career-high with 26 goals for Washington last season. Oshie is a perfect representative of the Americans hard-nosed roster.

Jakub Voracek

Czech Republic

Voracek is the most dangerous player on a Czech roster lacking in legitimate firepower, especially with David Krejci pulling out before the tournament with injury. The 27-year-old Vorachek is coming off a down year for the Flyers, posting only 11 goals and 55 points in 73 games last season. He'll want to get off to a faster start this fall after tip-toeing out of the gate a year ago. There's contract matters to consider, too: Voracek signed an eight-year extension worth US$66 million in 2015 that kicks in this season.