It’s almost that time of the year again. As we near the end of 2022, it means the 2023 World Junior Championship draws closer. The yearly international tournament gives fans and teams the chance to watch some of the NHL top prospects battle it out on the biggest stage.
It gives fans the chance to watch some of their teams top prospects who they otherwise wouldn’t be able to watch play. In the case of the Calgary Flames, it looks like it could be a rather light Flames contingent making the trip to the tournament for the second time in a row.
After Matthew Coronato was the only Flames representative at the August tournament, the Flames will be lucky to have more than one representative at this tournament. With many of the teams top prospects too old to play in the tournament and their lack of high draft picks recently, the Flames don’t have a lot of high-end under-20 talent in the organization.
That said, we could still see a couple recent Flames draft picks represent their countries at the World Juniors for the first time. Let’s take a look at which prospects have a chance to play in the 2023 World Junior tournament.
William Stromgren – Sweden
Maybe the third time’s the charm for William Stromgren? The Flames’ 2021 second-round pick has failed to make team Sweden at the past two tournaments since being drafted, and this year will be his final chance before aging out. Stromgren failed to make the team for the 2022 tournament last winter, and then also missed the do-over 2022 tournament back in August. He has however been invited to Sweden’s World Junior camps in the past.
Despite being one of the more veteran players eligible to play for Sweden in the tournament, he’s still an outside shot to make the team. Sweden as usual will be bringing one of the most talented teams in the tournament, which leaves little room for a player like Stromgren. That said, his history of playing for Sweden and veteran experience could earn him a depth spot on the roster.
Stromgren has competed for the Sweden U16 team in 2019, for the Sweden U17 team in 2020, for the Sweden U18 team at the 2021 U18 World Championship, and then finally for the U20 team last year in exhibition play. All he’s missing is the U20 World Junior team to complete his infinity gauntlet of team Sweden’s.
This season, Stromgren has finally made the jump full time to the SHL, logging 24 games for Brynas IF. He’s posted just two goals and four points, although Brynas currently ranks second last in the SHL and Stromgren doesn’t have much talent around him. He did play one game in the J20 Nationell and posted a hat trick so there’s that.
Stromgren’s point totals are far from good enough to earn him a spot on a stacked Sweden roster, so he’ll have to count on his veteran experience with Sweden to crack the roster. If he does make the team, it’ll be as a depth piece to support the team’s top talent.
Topi Ronni – Finland
The Flames only 2022 draft pick with a chance to play in the tournament also has perhaps the best shot of any prospect in the organization to make their country’s roster. Topi Ronni was the Flames’ first pick of the 2022 draft, going 59th overall in the second round. Finland’s roster is much easier to crack then the other superpowers in the tournament, giving an NHL prospect like Ronni a great shot at landing on the team.
Ronni has represented Finland’s U16 team, U18 team at the 2022 U18 World Championship, and their U20 team this current season in exhibition play. He’s posted seven points in six exhibition games for the U20 this season, a great sign that he’ll be on the team come Boxing Day. His seven points for the team is second to only Seattle Kraken draft pick Jani Nyman. Unsurprisingly he was included in Finland’s World Junior camp in the summer.
Outside of international play this season, he’s posted some mixed results thus far. In the U20 league in Finland he’s put up five points including four assists in two games. In Finland’s top league Liiga he’s logged eight games for Tappara and put up two points. Considering he’s only 18 years old, the fact he’s already playing in the countries top league is impressive even if the points aren’t there yet.
Ronni represents the Flames best chance of having a prospect at the tournament, as the combination of his experience representing Finland along with their weaker roster gives him a great chance of making the team. Outside of Brad Lambert, the team doesn’t have any standout pivots so Ronni could find himself playing in a pretty prominent role on the second line if he has a good camp.
Jack Beck – Canada
Coming into the 2022–23 season, Jack Beck seemed like he would have a legit shot to make Team Canada’s 2023 roster. He was invited to Canada’s selection camp back in the summer after a breakout 18 year old season in 2021–22, and would’ve likely been on the winter selection camp roster as well.
Unfortunately an injury has derailed his season as he’s been sidelined since October with no news of a return date. He kicked off the season on a strong note too, posting 13 points in 10 games before going down with the injury. The injury has kept him off of the selection camp roster that was announced yesterday and pretty much nullified any chances of him making the team.
For a player like Beck to squeak onto a stacked roster like Canada, he would’ve needed a couple months of strong play to start the season to force his way onto the team. He was far from a lock so even if he does get healthy soon, he’s likely already lost any chance of making the team. Here’s hoping he can get back on the ice soon.
A small group
The Flames will once again have a very small group of players going to the World Junior tournament this year as there are really only two prospects in the organization who have a chance of making their countries teams. Both Stromgren and Ronni have decent shots of making their respective teams, although neither are locks. With that said, here’s hoping the Flames have at least one prospect at the tournament this year.
Photo by Martin Rulsch, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link