When it comes to the upcoming World Junior Championship tournaments, there’s good news and bad news for the Calgary Flames. They won’t have anybody playing for Canada or the United States, but they’re likely to have players playing for a slew of European countries.
Norway has already announced 2018 sixth round selection Mathias Emilio Pettersen as part of their Division 1 World Junior roster. Several other recent draft picks are contenders to represent other countries.
Martin Pospisil (Slovakia)
The first of three Flames fourth rounders in the 2018 NHL Draft, Pospisil is a strong contender to represent Slovakia in the World Juniors this season. He’s in the midst of a breakout season with the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers after struggling with staying out of the penalty box last season.
Pospisil played for Slovakia at the Under-18 Worlds in 2016-17 – alongside future Flames picks Milos Roman and Adam Ruzicka – and Slovakia had USHLer Samuel Bucek on their World Junior roster last season, so it’s not like there’s not a fit or precedent for him going. Seven of Slovakia’s 12 forwards from last year’s World Juniors won’t be back due to age, so the door is open for new faces.
Milos Roman (Slovakia)
The third of three Flames fourth rounders in the 2018 NHL Draft – the second was American-born forward Demetrios Koumontzis – Roman is a pretty safe bet to play for Slovakia at the World Juniors. He’s off to a good start to his season with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants and he’s played for Slovakia’s national teams at virtually every major tournament in recent years – including last year’s World Juniors. It would be a big shock if he wasn’t on their roster.
Adam Ruzicka (Slovakia)
The Flames’ fourth round pick in 2017, Ruzicka isn’t out to a blazing start to the season with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting – only a point per game through 25 games – but he seems another safe bet to play for Slovakia. He’s played for Slovakia at two consecutive World Juniors, including once as a 17-year-old, and he’s been a regular on their international teams dating back to being their U16 national team’s captain as a 15-year-old. As with Roman, he’s a virtual lock.
Filip Sveningsson (Sweden)
After a quiet first post-draft season, Sveningsson has transitioned to the secondary HockeyAllsvenskan pro league and really made a case for himself for Sweden’s national team. He’s played international games for Sweden in each of the past five seasons, including representing them at the World Under-17 Challenge in 2015-16. He’s off to a great start to the season with IK Oskarshamn and played for Sweden at the recent Four Nations Cup, so he’s definitely in the mix. The challenge for him will be the sheer number of high-end Swedish forwards available, but he should be commended for forcing his way into the conversation at the very least after being the Flames’ seventh rounder in 2017.
Dmitry Zavgorodniy (Russia)
Another seventh round pick (in 2018), Zavgorodniy has been a revelation for many of those that follow and cover the Flames. While not a large player, he’s been an offensive machine for the Rimouski Oceanic in his second season in North America. He has a strong chance to represent Russia, particularly given that he played at the World Under-18s last season and was on the Russian roster for the Quebec component of the annual Canada-Russia Series. He knows the coaches and has scored a ton on the smaller North American ice – the World Juniors are in Vancouver and Victoria on the small ice this year – so he’ll get a lot of consideration for those reasons.