Boxing day is here and that means it is time for the 2017 World Junior Championship. The beloved tournament has a special place in this country: the hockey is exciting, Canada is always a threat and we get to see some of the brightest prospects in the world play on a big stage. This year the Calgary Flames have 5 players slated to represent their countries. Here is a look at who to keep an eye on these next couple of weeks.
Dillon Dube of the Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
10 GP, 1 G, 10 A, 11 PTS, 14 PIM, +5
Dillon Dube was a bit of a surprise to make Canada’s roster, considering the fact that he has missed a lot of games so far this year and has not put up a ton of points. However, he has proven he can produce offensively and he adds a lot of energy with his fast skating and aggressive style. He will not be “the guy” but he can definitely contribute for Canada in a depth role and play higher up the line up if needed. He had 1 goal and 2 assists in 3 pre-tournament games.
Oliver Kylington of the Stockton Heat (AHL)
25 GP, 4 G, 9 A, 13 PTS, 14 PIM, +7
Oliver Kylington is the prospect I will be watching with the most interest this tournament. He is an incredible talent and it still baffles me that the Flames were able to pick him up with the 60th overall pick in the 2015 draft. He played quite well as an 18-year-old in Stockton last year and this season he is off to a great start on his sophomore campaign, being one of the leaders on Stockton from the backend at age 19. He was not brought in last year for Sweden so he is going to be highly motivated to put on a great performance this year. Expect him to be a prominent player on Sweden, as the Flames likely released him to play at the World Junior Championship with the idea that he would be playing big minutes at important moments. He is a high risk, high reward player, so it will be worth watching to see how he fares in a big tournament like this.
Team United States
Adam Fox of Harvard University (NCAA)
11 GP, 1 G, 15 A, 16 PTS, 6 PIM, +12
While Kylington is a possibly Calgary’s most impressive defense prospect, Adam Fox is already starting to make a push for that billing. The third round pick from this past draft is off to an incredible start to his NCAA career, putting up 16 points in just 11 games. He is stacking up points like crazy, being a huge part of Harvard’s powerplay. The United States look like they have a strong team this year, so if Fox is given a good portion of powerplay time, he should continue to do what he has done in Harvard, put points on the board.
Tyler Parsons of the London Knights (OHL)
16 GP, 11-2-2, 2.46 GAA, .916 SV%, 2 SO
Tyler Parsons is one of three goalies that made the United States final roster, but he should get a chance to vie for the starting role. He is the oldest of the three goaltenders and possesses a very nice resume, helping lead his London Knights to the OHL and Memorial Cup Championships this past season. He has proven that he can excel under high pressure situations, something that is imperative in such a short tournament like this one. He should get a shot, hopefully he runs with the opportunity.
Pavel Karnaukhov (Russia)
8 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 PT, 12 PIM, -1 (KHL)
18 GP, 5 G, 11 A, 16 PTS, 10 PIM, +7 (VHL)
2 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 PTS, 4 PIM, -1 (MHL)
You may remember Karnaukhov from his days as a member of the Calgary Hitmen. Karnaukhov went back to Russia this season instead of continuing to play in the WHL. A 5th round pick in 2015, the Flames probably were not overly fond of his decision, but players have to do what they think is best for their careers. He has made Russia’s team so something must be going right. He has played in 3 different Russian leagues this year and now is heading to the World Junior Championship so he is getting around. It will be interesting to see how significant of a contribution he makes to Russia’s team. This tournament could possibly be the last we see of him, or he may be back sooner than we think.
A Good Experience
Playing in the World Junior Championship is a big deal for these players and it can play a big role in their development. Whether they are counted on to be a star player or a depth contributor, playing against the top competition of their age group is a good measuring stick and learning experience. There are Flames prospects represented on all of the major contenders for this tournament, who will earn bragging rights over the rest?