In a sign which highlights the recent lack of Pittsburgh Penguins draft picks and shallow depth of the Penguins prospect pool, the team will have only two representatives among the 10 teams in the 2021 WJC (World Junior Championships), which begin Dec. 25 at the Rogers Place in Edmonton, AB.
Barring COVID-19 delays, the 2021 WJC tournament will run through Jan. 5.
Top Penguins prospect Sam Poulin was squeezed off the Team Canada roster as several teams allowed their top draft picks to play in the tournament, rather than be ready to immediately report to NHL training camps which the NHL and NHLPA expect to begin by Jan. 3.
Penguins prospect goalie Joel Blomqvist will represent Team Finland. Goalie Calle Clang will represent Team Finland and Team Sweden,
Blomqvist, 18, was recently drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round (52nd overall) of the 2020 NHL Draft. This season, the goaltender split time between Karpat of Liiga, Finland’s top professional league, and Hermes of Mestis, Finland’s second-tier professional league. In two games with Karpat, Blomqvist is 2-0-0 with a 1.50 goals-against average and .914 save percentage. With Hermes, he is 3-3-3 with a 2.56 goals-against average, .908 save percentage, and one shutout.
Last season, the 6-foot-2, 183-pound Blomqvist won Junior SM-Liiga’s Best Goalie Award and was named to the First All-Star Team after leading all goaltenders with a .931 save percentage in 34 games with Karpat U20.
Internationally, the Uusikaarlepyy, Finland native played in the 2019 World U17 Hockey Challenge and the 2019 World U18 Championships. Finland a silver medal at the U-17 level.
The Pittsburgh Penguins followed Blomqvist’s pick by drafting Clang in the third round (77th overall) of the 2020 NHL Draft. This season, the 18-year-old goaltender is playing with Kristianstands IK of Hockey Allsvenskan, Sweden’s second-highest professional league. This season, his record is 4-4-0 with a 1.81 goals-against average and .939 save percentage.
The 6-foot-2, 194-pound goaltender spent most of the previous two seasons with Rogle BK J20, a developmental team for the SHL’s Rogle BK. In 58 games between 2018-20, he went 29-28-0 with a 2.72 goals-against average and .911 save percentage.
Internationally, the Olofstrom, Sweden native represented his country at the 2019 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and 2019 World Under-18 Championship, winning bronze and gold medals, respectively.
Team Finland opens the tournament on Dec. 25 against Germany at 6:00 PM ET. Finland’s preliminary play continues on Dec. 27 (2:00 PM ET vs. Switzerland), Dec. 30 (2:00 PM ET vs. Slovakia), and Dec. 31 (6:00 PM ET vs. Canada).
Clang and Team Sweden will open the 2021 WJC tournament on Dec. 26 against the Czech Republic at 2:00 PM ET. Sweden’s preliminary play continues on Dec. 28 (6:00 PM ET vs. Austria), Dec. 30 (9:30 PM ET vs. Russia), and Dec. 31 (9:30 PM ET vs. U.S.).