EDMONTON, AB - The IIHF World Junior Championship is fast approaching and a few Oilers prospects are hoping to represent their country on the international stage.
With less than two weeks until the puck drops on the event in the Czech Republic, EdmontonOilers.com takes a preliminary look at the Oilers draft picks looking bring glory to their nation.
Philip Broberg, Team Sweden
The Oilers 2019 first-round selection was welcomed to the storied organization with the eighth-overall pick at Rogers Arena in Vancouver and will undoubtedly be a big piece for the ever-dangerous Swedes. The mobile defender decided to stay in his home country for the 2019-20 campaign and has so far collected four assists in 24 games with Skelleftea of the Swedish Hockey League playing against veteran professionals.
Broberg understands he still has more to learn from playing against professional but when it comes to competing against his age group at the annual best-on-best tournament, there's an underlying source of motivation he and his compatriots are carrying with them into this year's circuit.
"Sweden is always going for the gold," Broberg said earlier in the season. "We don't want to lose in the quarterfinals against Switzerland again. We want to be in the finals and have an opportunity to fight for gold."
Olivier Rodrigue, Team Canada
Like Team Sweden, Team Canada did not have the finish they were hoping for in the 2019 edition of the World J's. The Canucks were thumped out of the competition in the quarterfinal round, losing 2-1 to Finland, who went on to become the gold medal earners.
Oilers goalie prospect Olivier Rodrigue is one of three guardians going to the Czech Republic to represent the Great White North. The Moncton Wildcats protector, drafted in the second round of the 2018 NHL Draft, has 15 wins this year with a 2.79 goals-against average and .907 save percentage. But even with those numbers, the competition in the crease is not completely decided and Rodrigue will hope to prove he can carry the workload when the games get under way on Boxing Day.
Raphael Lavoie, Team Canada
The Quebec Major Junior League's shots on goal leader will undoubtedly be looking to let the pucks fly should he survive Team Canada's final cut. The 2019 second-rounder, chosen 38th overall, has 191 shots on goal this year and 85 of them categorized as 'dangerous shots' by the QMJHL. The forward's filled the net 18 times on those 191 pucks and could prove to be a threatening trigger alongside the gifted skaters Canada will have on their roster.
At Team Canada's practice on Tuesday, Lavoie centred the club's second power-play unit, sharing the ice with some heavy firepower including Ty Smith, Bowen Byram, Nolan Foote and Quinton Byfield.
Patrik Siikanen, Team Finland
The Oilers selected Finnish forward Patrik Siikanen with the 195th-overall pick at the 2018 NHL Draft and in his first go at Oilers Development Camp this past summer, Siikanen expressed his desire to join his nation at the World Juniors.
But even he knows it won't be easy to crack the squad's final 2020 roster, given they are the reigning champs.
"Finnish hockey is improving all the time and I think it's coming from the hard work that the coaches and staff do there," Siikanen said at Oilers Development Camp in June. "They say, 'We play as a team, win as a team and lose as a team,' and that's about it."
Matej Blumel, Team Czech Republic
Oilers fans unaware of Matej Blumel could get a glimpse of the forward during the holidays should he make Czech Republic's final World Junior Championship roster. The right winger was taken 100th-overall in the 2019 NHL Draft and has two goals and two assists in six international appearances with the Czech Republic this season.