The World Junior Hockey Championships are in full swing in the Czech Republic, but short of nationalism and a love for hockey, there is little for Flames fans to get excited about. While the Flames did have Dustin Wolf playing backup for the United States, they have now been knocked out of the tournament.
That being said, let’s take a look back to see how current Flames players have done in this prestigious tournament.
Flames who did not attend
As is the case with most teams, over half of the Flames’ current roster did not attend the tournament. With 10 teams in the touranemnt, and each having rosters of 23 players, not every young prospect can have a chance to represent their country at the tournament.
The Flames players who did not attend are Rasmus Andersson, Sam Bennett, T.J. Brodie, Mark Giordano, Mark Jankowski, Milan Lucic. Andrew Mangiapane, Sean Monahan, Zac Rinaldo, David Rittich, Derek Ryan, Michael Stone, and Cam Talbot.
Looking at this list, some of the names make sense. Players like Rittich, Giordano, and Ryan took unconventional routes to the NHL. Others blossomed much later in their careers like Mangiapane and Brodie.
Bennett was part of the summer training camp for team Canada in 2014, but by the time the tournament rolled around, he was already a regular on the Flames roster. Andersson was also part of the selection camp in 2015, but was cut for unknown reasons. Monahan was also quite close to making the team, but after taking a ten game suspension for elbowing the month before, he was not in his peak performance form and was cut prior to the tournament. He did get a very cute dog instead.
Flames who were at the tournament
Ten Flames players played at the World Juniors at least once. Recently traded Michael Frolik used to lead the way with three appearances. Now, Mikael Backlund, Dillon Dube, Juuso Valimaki, and Elias Lindholm are the only Flames who represented their countries twice.
The Flames have had three players represent Team Sweden: Backlund, Lindholm, and Oliver Kylington, but they never played at the same time.
Backlund represented his homeland in 2008 and 2009, recording 14 points and bringing home two silver medals.
Lindholm represented team Sweden in 2013 and 2014. In 2013 he put up four points and won a silver medal, but in 2014 he was the tournament’s eight leading scorer, putting up nine points and also coming home with a silver medal.
Kylington is the only Flames player for Sweden who did not win a medal. He recorded four assists with the team in 2017, but they finished fourth.
The Flames also had three players representing the United States at the tournament, each only playing in the tournament once. Johnny Gaudreau put up a whopping nine points in 2013, and finished fifth in tournament scoring. He also came home with a gold medal that year.
Matthew Tkachuk played in the 2016 tournament with the United States, and posted the most points of any current Flame at the tournament with 11. He finished fifth in scoring that year, tied with Auston Matthews, and came home with a bronze medal.
Noah Hanifin played in the tournament for the Americans in 2015, where the defenceman posted two points en route to a fifth place finish
Only two current Flames played for Team Canada: Dube and Travis Hamonic. Dube played in 2017 as a depth forward, and also in 2018 where he was Captain Canada. He posted eight points over the two tournaments and came away with a silver and a gold medal in the two years respectively. Former Flame Curtis Lazar was also the Captain for Team Canada back in 2015.
Hamonic was part of the 2010 tournament, the only current Flame there that year. He posted three points in a silver medal finish, snapping Canada’s run of five successive gold medals. Canada lost that year in overtime to the Americans on a goal by John Carlson, which was assisted by former Flames draft pick John Ramage.
Valimaki is the only current Flames to represent Finland at the tournament. He played in 2017 and 2018 for his country putting up six points over the two years. The 2017 tournament was an unmitigated disaster for the nation, who were nearly relegated, but the 2018 tournament, where Valimaki was the captain, went better with Finland finishing sixth in the standings.
Tobias Rieder represented his nation in 2011, and posted a goal and an assist. However, Germany had a tough year overall and was relegated to the second division at the end of the tournament.
Photo credits: NHL.com