The time is upon us, folks! We’re nearing World Juniors time, and the national teams have just started releasing their preliminary rosters for their teams. And guess what, you guys! There are a lot of baby Flyers on these preliminary lists!
Now, the teams still have a bit of work to do, and will be whittling down their rosters in the coming weeks, but we’re still in an okay position to do a bit of guess work. Who’s gotten the initial invite? And what are their chances of making the team? Let’s break it down.
Maxim Sushko’s our lone prospect representing Belarus (in the secondary tournament, looking to get promoted for next year).
That’s neat. He’ll probably make the team right?
Yep. He played for them last year and he was captaining the team in their game earlier this week. So we can feel pretty comfortable saying he’ll be on the final roster.
Yeah that all seems to point to lock status. Good talk.
Next up are our pals from the Great White North. Canada’s named two of the Flyers’ 2017 picks to their roster, Morgan Frost and Isaac Ratcliffe.
So how good are their chances of making the team?
They seem pretty good! Based on his production last season, Frost should have been a solid candidate to participate in last year’s tournament, but a slow (relative to his final pace) start seemed to have him just miss the window for selection.
But what’s done is done, and he’s on pace to break 100 points easily this season—and he’s doing so on a markedly less talented top to bottom Soo Greyhounds team than last year’s version. But both he and Ratcliffe are off to really strong starts to the season—Frost is second in the OHL in points and 10th in goals, while Ratcliffe is 26th in points and 13th in goals, as both seem to be picking up right where they left off in last season’s strong campaigns.
Combine that with the fact that these two have both been given the chance to represent their country in international tournaments—the WJSS and the CIBC Canada/Russia series—it’s hard to imagine that they get passed over for places in the final roster.
Yeah! We don’t even have to LOOK AT THE ROSTER! We just KNOW they’re locks!
I like the enthusiasm. We should leave some room for other possibilities. They could roll up and have awful starts and get themselves cut. But we can feel pretty comfortable saying that we expect to see them on the final roster.
I hear a ton of them were picked.
That would be correct. Four Americans in the Flyers organization were selected. We’ve got: Joel Farabee. Jay O’Brien. Noah Cates. Jack St. Ivany.
Let’s start with Farabee. We only have two returning forwards from last year’s team, so it’s not like he (or any of the other forwards) are going to have to come in and break their necks trying to beat out a “veteran” for a spot—there are lots for the taking. And Farabee may himself have a leg up, having played on the first line and power play unit for the US in the WJSS, and he looked really good while doing so. Like, really good.
Does it help his case some that he and Jack Hughes have kind of been attached at the hip, be it in the USNDTP or the WJSS? Maybe a little bit…
Ah yes, the Chris Kunitz Special.
You shut your mouth. As I was saying, it definitely doesn’t hurt that he’s played a lot with and shown some real chemistry with an absolute lock for the team. But he’s talented enough (and playing well enough in his first college season) to earn a spot on his own merits.
And then what about Jay O’Brien?
This one’s interesting, purely in that we don’t have a huge sample size for this season, to judge his performance. And that’s not his fault—he’s been out with an injury But he’s still got a goal and an assist in his first ten, which isn’t too shabby, especially for a player coming from playing mostly just high school hockey. And then there was the fact that he also looked really strong in the WJSS.
In a way, with O’Brien we want to echo our sentiments from earlier, when talking about Frost and Ratcliffe for Canada. It still comes down to him having a good camp, but based on his solid play in this past tournament and his decent start to his first college season, he’s got as good of a chance as anyone to make this roster.
Would you say it’s just about the same with Noah Cates, too?
That seems fair. He had a really good showing in the WJSS—limited minutes at 5-on-5 (well, compared to someone like Farabee), but he got both power play and penalty kill time, and seemed to excel in each of those situations. He also seems to be putting it all together in his own first college season, with four goals and three assists in his first 16 games with Minnesota-Duluth. He’s also a year older than Farabee and O’Brien, being one of seven 2017 draftees. Another year’s experience and whatnot. If that’s something that the roster makers care a whole bunch about. So there’s that.
And we’ve also got a wildcard here, too!
Is that kind of an overstatement?
Okay fine, maybe. But if we were working out our lists in our heads before this announcement of who we were expecting to see, Jack St. Ivany probably wasn’t on many of them. And that’s not meant as a slight to St. Ivany, it’s just that prior participation in past WJCs and WJSSs is weighed pretty heavily, at least in our guesswork. So, with that considered, he kind of came out of nowhere.
What does that mean? Maybe not too much, but it’s hard to say. It shouldn’t work against him, but it depends how heavily past participation is being weighed by those making the rosters. It stands to reason that he may just have to work a little bit harder to steal a spot away from someone with “seniority.” The good news is that there are only three returnees of the 10 defensemen on the preliminary roster. And he’s one of only four righties. So if that’s important to the coaches, that might also work in his favor. He’ll have to have a good camp, but there’s certainly still a path for him to the final roster.
We’ve got two Swedish baby Flyers who made the ranks.
Is Adam Ginning one?
He is indeed! And we can feel relatively comfortable saying he’s got a decent shot to make this roster. He was leaned on a good bit in the WJSS, and to positive results. Perhaps that competition wasn’t quite as tough as it will be in the WJC, but he certainly held his own, just as he’s doing in the start of his SHL season.
He has a couple other things working in his favor, making his route to a final roster spot a bit easier. There’s been just about a complete overhaul of the defense from last year’s team, with only two players returning. There are also only eight defensemen on the preliminary roster fighting for seven roster spots. Could he beat out one (1) guy to get himself onto the final roster if he has a good camp? Seems like a pretty reasonable expectation though.
And then who’s our other Swede?
Samuel Ersson! The 2018 fifth round pick has been kind of tearing it up so far this season. He’s got a .944 save percentage with Vasteros IK in the Allsvenskan. We did see him at the WJSS—well, sort of, as he got one game in, just not one that was televised.
But that makes for an interesting case: he was the third goalie in the WJSS rotation, clearly, but it looks like perhaps he’s heated up since then? In any event, he seems poised to sneak in and steal a spot away, if he can keep this level of play up. Only one of the goalies on the preliminary roster (Olle Eriksson Ek) played in last year’s tournament, so seniority isn’t completely working against Ersson. There’s a spot for the taking.
Wait, so that’s it? No Olle Lycksell?
Nope! And, believe me, as probably BSH’s biggest Olle Lycksell fan, I’m just as surprised as anybody. He looked really good in the WJSS and is having a fine enough start to his season over in Sweden (playing on the same team as Ginning, we should add), but for whatever reason, they passed him over.
Now, Sweden’s still waiting to see if Isac Lundestrom gets permission from Anaheim to play in the tournament, and there’s a teeny tiny chance that, if he doesn’t get permission, that Lycksell could sneak in with a late invitation.
Should we bank on that? No. But are we selfishly hoping that things do pan out and he gets that late invite? I know at least one of us is.