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The best international tournament in hockey is finally back. The 2020 World Junior Championship will pit several of the best hockey nations in the world – and Kazakhstan – in a battle for under-20 supremacy.

This year’s tournament is interesting for a lot of reasons, the least of which is the involvement of Calgary Flames prospects.

Flames representation

So, uh, the Flames aren’t heavily represented at this year’s World Juniors. Jakob Pelletier was in the running for a spot with Canada, but got hurt. Same thing with Dmitry Zavgorodniy, who was a shoo-in for a spot with Russia before breaking his collarbone.

The lone Flames representative is United States backup goaltender Dustin Wolf. He’s eligible for next year’s tournament and typically what happens is the younger backup is being groomed as the starter for next year. (That’s not necessarily the case this year, as Spencer Knight, the top goalie, will also be eligible for next year’s event.) So, Wolf might play one game – the second USA game with Germany maybe – but otherwise he’s there for learning and moral support.

Having one team’s backup goalie at the World Juniors is the lowest level of Flames representation this decade – they had just one prospect involved in 2014 and 2015 but both were “regular” players – but it’s more an indication of some rough injury luck than poor drafting or development.

Why else should I watch?

If there aren’t Flames kids involved, why should you watch? Well, besides the fact that it’s the best tournament in hockey that’s not for the Stanley Cup, this year’s event features a preposterous amount of top prospects for the upcoming 2020 NHL Draft.

Among them? Sweden’s Alexander Holtz and Lucas Raymond, Germany’s Tim Stutzle, Canada’s Alexis Lafreniere, Quinton Byfield and Jamie Drysdale, and Russia’s Yaroslav Askarov. All of these players, even the Russian goalie, could go in the top 10 of this year’s draft.

Wake up, have some waffles, and enjoy the future of hockey.

Schedule

(All times Mountain; broadcast information here)

  • Dec. 26: Russia vs. Czech Republic (7 a.m.), Switzerland vs. Kazakhstan (7 a.m.), Canada vs. United States (11 a.m.), Sweden vs. Finland (11 a.m.)
  • Dec. 27: Slovakia vs. Kazakhstan (7 a.m.), United States vs. Germany (11 a.m.)
  • Dec. 28: Finland vs. Slovakia (7 a.m.), Czech Republic vs. Germany (7 a.m.), Switzerland vs. Sweden (11 a.m.), Canada vs. Russia (11 a.m.)
  • Dec. 29: Kazakhstan vs. Finland (7 a.m.), United States vs. Russia (11 a.m.)
  • Dec. 30: Kazakhstan vs. Sweden (7 a.m.), Germany vs. Canada (7 a.m.), United States vs. Czech Republic (11 a.m.), Slovakia vs. Switzerland (11 a.m.)
  • Dec. 31: Sweden vs. Slovakia (7 a.m.), Russia vs. Germany (7 a.m.), Canada vs. Czech Republic (11 a.m.), Finland vs. Switzerland (11 a.m.)
  • Jan. 2: quarterfinals
  • Jan. 4: semi-finals
  • Jan. 5: medal games