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Calgary Flames prospects at the World Juniors: quality over quantity

When the puck drops on Boxing Day for the World Juniors, FlamesNation will become a USA Hockey fan site until the end of the tournament. The main reason for that is Matthew Coronato being the lone Calgary Flames representative at the World Juniors.

Sure, the Flames only have one player at the World Juniors, but looking back the tournament’s value has been quality over quantity in terms of prospects.

Brad Treliving has been general manager since 2014, so let’s look at the World Juniors since his arrival to look at which players have represented the Flames at the event.

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  • 2015: Rushan Rafikov (Russia)
  • 2016: Mason McDonald (Canada), Brandon Hickey (Canada) and Adam Ollas Mattsson (Sweden)
  • 2017: Oliver Kylington (Sweden), Dillon Dube (Canada), Pavel Karnaukhov (Russia), Tyler Parsons (USA) and Adam Fox (USA)
  • 2018: Dillon Dube (Canada), Juuso Valimaki (Finland), Eetu Tuulola (Finland), Adam Ruzicka (Slovakia) and Linus Lindstrom (Sweden)
  • 2019: Martin Pospisil (Slovakia), Milos Roman (Slovakia), Adam Ruzicka (Slovakia) and Filip Sveningsson (Sweden)
  • 2020: Dustin Wolf (USA)
  • 2021: Connor Zary (Canada), Jakob Pelletier (Canada), Yan Kuznetsov (Russia) and Dustin Wolf (USA)
  • 2022: Matthew Coronato (USA)

When we say “quality over quantity,” what’s meant is this: having a bunch of players as depth bodies on a World Junior team is somewhat of an accomplishment, but it’s much better to have players in key roles. (By this measure, the 2017 tournament may be the best in terms of overall development opportunities.)

In 2017, Dube played a key utility role for Canada and worked his way into a larger role (and the captaincy) the following season. In 2018, Välimäki served as Finland’s captain and played first pairing minutes. In 2020 and 2021, Wolf was the backup goalie for Team USA – that might not sound amazing, but in 2021 he was used to as a reset and allowed the team (and starter Spencer Knight) to regroup after a rough outing and eventually win gold.

Coronato made Team USA, and it’ll be his first international experience with USA Hockey. That said, early reports are that he’ll be playing a ton. He’s been skating on the right side of their first line during practices with Matthew Beniers and Brett Berard. He’s slated to play first unit power play. He’ll be the first guy over the boards (or one of them) whenever Team USA needs a goal.

It would be nice if the Flames had oodles of players at the World Juniors, in the sense that there would always be a game on with a Flames prospect in it. But Coronato’s going to be one of the key cogs in the USA Hockey machine at the World Juniors, and having one key piece on one team is more valuable for the Flames’ long-term development than having six prospects playing six minutes per game on six different teams.

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