After weeks of anticipation, six Calgary Flames prospects got the call from their respective countries. Each player was invited to try out for his respective Under-20 National team to represent them at this December’s IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships in Ufa, Russia.
Laurent Brossoit – Team Canada
2011 sixth round selection Laurent Brossoit, currently with the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings, will be vying for a spot between the pipes for Team Canada. The 19-year-old product of Surrey, British Columbia suited up for Team Canada at the summer Summit Series in Russia and for Team WHL at the Subway Super Series last month. He also represented Team Pacific at 2009 U-17 Tournament, was named WHL playoff MVP last season en route to a championship, and played in the Memorial Cup.
In terms of big-game experience, none of Canada’s four prospective goaltenders has his resume.
Tyler Wotherspoon – Team Canada
2011 second round selection Tyler Wotherspoon will be fighing for one of seven blueline spots for Canada. A resident of Surrey and a childhood pal of Brossoit, Wotherspoon really jumped ahead on the WHL’s depth charts due to his partnership with likely Team USA stalwart and top rated prospect Seth Jones in Portland.
The Winterhawks blueliner has had a decent offensive year (3 goals, 21 points), but is mostly known for playing a solid, often physical, defensive game. Despite that, he has only taken two minor penalties this season and is among the CHL’s leaders with a plus-34 rating. His big-game experience includes trips to the WHL finals in each of the last two seasons and an appearance with Team Pacific at the 2009 U-17s.
Markus Granlund – Team Finland
The other 2011 second round pick (both acquired in the Tim Erixon trade) is Markus Granlund, who’ll be looking to return to Finland’s junior club. Granlund hasn’t had an amazing offensive year in SM-Liiga without big brother Mikael (just 12 points in 25 games), currently in the AHL with Houston, but he’s got a ton of international experience. He’s played in the U-17s, two U-18s and was on last year’s Finnish national junior team.
Jon Gillies – Team USA
Calgary’s 2012 third round choice, Jon Gillies will be one of three goalies for Team USA. Depending on the condition of likely American starter John Gibson, Gillies may play a game or two. While he has no international experience, Gillies has been lights-out for Providence College in the NCAA as an 18-year-old (14 games played. .930 SV%). The New Hampshire native will most likely get a lot more offensive support with the American team than he does with his college team.
Patrick Sieloff – Team USA
In a bit of a surprise, Windsor Spitfires blueliner (and 2012 second round pick) Patrick Sieloff is on the preliminary roster for the United States’ entry. From the Detroit area, Sieloff has been a big physical presence for a middling Spits club. He has also represented his country at the U-17s and U-18s, where he won silver and gold medals, respectively. An alternate captain last year at the U-18s, Sieloff may bring a combination of leadership and physicality that is often missing from international tournaments.
Johnny Gaudreau – Team USA
Finally, to the shock of precisely nobody, Johnny Gaudreau was invited to Team USA’s camp. The 19-year-old product of Carney’s Point, New Jersey has had a fantastic couple of years. He won a USHL championship, was drafted by the Calgary Flames, was a point-per-game player in his freshman year with Boston College, won both the conference and national championships, and was the MVP of his conference’s playoff tournament. His only set-back? Being one of the last cuts at last year’s World Junior camp. Somehow I doubt that happens again.
Final rosters for the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships are expected to be named just before Christmas. The tournament begins on December 26, with the gold medal game going January 5. We’ll definitely have lots of coverage of whatever Flames prospects end up heading over to Ufa for the tournament.