The second-best tournament in sports, the annual World Junior Championship, takes place over the Christmas holidays in Edmonton! The 2021 edition of the tournament is likely to have some Calgary Flames flavour. But how much?
We’ve dug into the World Junior chances for the top Flames prospects.
Calgary’s first rounder in 2019, Pelletier has been invited to selection camp for Team Canada. He’s got the benefit of a large sample size of strong play in the Q and he’s the type of player that can fit in anywhere for Canada due to his two-way prowess. He missed out of last year’s event due to a concussion, but it seems like he’ll be given every chance to make the team.
Calgary’s first rounder in 2020, Zary was invited to last year’s selection camp but didn’t make the team. As such, Hockey Canada has had a long look at him and will get a second long look at this year’s selection camp. Six months younger than Pelletier, Zary is also in his last year’s of World Junior eligibility. He’s not as much of a slam-dunk as Pelletier, but he’s also going to be firmly in the mix.
Last year, Wolf backed up Spencer Knight for Team USA. Barring anything wacky happening, Wolf will back up Knight again. He’s a virtual lock for a second consecutive World Junior appearance.
A bit of a dark horse for a roster spot, Nodler had a solid freshman season for Michigan State but didn’t put up eye-popping offensive numbers. But Nodler impressed USA Hockey enough to earn an invite to October’s evaluation camp. There are more offensively exciting prospects ahead of him in the pecking order, but there’s a chance Nodler could sneak in given his two-way play.
Feuk isn’t on the Swedish roster for their exhibition games with Finland this month, which is a sign he’s not on the radar for the Tre Kronor for this year’s event. He just hasn’t generated enough offense or excitement consistently to get a foothold with the national team brass.
The Flames have three Russian prospects – Ilya Nikolayev, Daniil Chechelev and Yan Kuznetsov – that all weren’t on Russia’s Karjala Cup roster for this month’s tournament. Given the lack of opportunities to scout players for the World Junior rosters, this has to be seen as a bad sign. Nikolayev may be able to sneak onto the roster given his past experience with the national team. Chechelev is enjoying a breakout season, but there are enough goalies in his age group – notably Yaroslav Askarov – that he’s not on the national team radar.
As of right now, the only virtual lock among Flames prospects to be at the World Juniors appears to be Wolf. Everybody else has some work to do.