Expect to see some Philadelphia Flyers prospects suit up when Edmonton’s hockey bubble gets another workout over Christmas. The 10 top Under-20 teams from around the globe will be checking in for the 2021 World Junior Championship, taking place from Dec. 25 – Jan. 5.
On home soil — but without their usual sold-out crowds — Canada will be looking to defend its gold medal from 2020, where recent first-overall NHL draft pick Alexis Lafreniere was named MVP.
Lafreniere was not on the list of 47 players on Canada’s list of selection camp invitees, announced on Oct. 29. Already with two tournament appearances on his resume, the door remains open for him to potentially be added to the Canadian roster at a later date.
Status of Alexis Lafreniere on Team Canada:
Tom Renney said discussions have been ongoing with the New York Rangers. Team is open-minded about Lafreniere playing for Canada but Hockey Canada will circle back in 10 days about Lafreniere's #WorldJuniors status.
— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisTHN) October 29, 2020
Tyson Foerster and Mason Millman In The Canadian Mix
Two Philadelphia Flyers draft picks are on Canada’s invite list: 2020 first-rounder Tyson Foerster and 2019 fourth-rounder Mason Millman.
Foerster is a sharp-shooting 6’2″, 194-pound right wing, who scored 36 goals and 80 points for the OHL’s Barrie Colts last season. But the Canadian team is deep at forward, and competition for jobs will be stiff. Foerster is one of 20 forwards selected in the first round over the last two seasons to be invited to camp. That number includes nine older players from the 2019 draft class.
Foerster turns 19 in mid-January. If he doesn’t make this year’s roster, he’ll get another shot next year, for the 2022 tournament.
As for Mason Millman, the 19-year-old was the top-scoring defenseman last season on a Saginaw Spirit team that was led by hotshot Cole Perfetti. He finished second in OHL scoring with 111 points last season and was selected 10th in this year’s draft.
Listed at 6’1″ and 180 pounds, Millman plays the left side. Team Canada has invited 15 blueliners to camp. Notable lefties include 2019 first-rounders Bowen Byram and Thomas Harley. Kaiden Guhle, the 16th pick from 2020, is also in the mix.
With so many players currently sidelined due to the pandemic, Canada’s selection camp will be four weeks long this year. Invitees will train in Red Deer, AB, from Nov. 16 – Dec. 13. Then, the final roster will head north to Edmonton. After quarantine, they’ll play a brief exhibition schedule before the tournament begins on Christmas Day.
Roster sizes have expanded this year, allowing 22 skaters and three goalies for each team. If Foerster and Millman don’t make the final cut, a month of training with Canada’s top young talent should be an invaluable experience for them. The OHL hopes to begin its 2020-21 schedule in early February.
York, Brink, Andrae Also Likely To Play
Three other Flyers prospects are in the mix for roster spots on other national teams.
For the United States, defenseman Cam York and forward Bobby Brink took part in USA Hockey’s national junior evaluation camp in Ann Arbor, MI, in early October. High picks in the 2019 draft, York and Brink both played for the 2020 U.S. team. They went home without medals, finishing a disappointing sixth in the tournament after a 1-0 quarterfinal loss to Finland.
They’ll be out for revenge this year. Expect to see York anchor the top American power-play unit and Brink’s impressive motor running in his highest gear.
Finally — keep an eye out for Philadelphia’s 2020 second rounder, Emil Andrae, on Sweden’s blue line. Though Andrae is listed at 5’9″ and 181 pounds, he has been playing mostly at the senior men’s level in the Swedish hockey league this season. The lefthander has some offensive talent. He could see power play time for the Swedes, who won bronze in 2020.
Andrae is on Sweden’s U20 roster for a series of friendly junior-level games this week against Finland. Those are running in conjunction with the senior-level Karjala Cup in Helsinki.