Senators Prospects Starring at World Juniors

EDMONTON, AB - AUGUST 15: Ridly Greig #17 of Canada skates scores a goal on Leevi Meriläinen #1 of Finland in the IIHF World Junior Championship on August 15, 2022 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (Photo by Andy Devlin/ Getty Images)
EDMONTON, AB - AUGUST 15: Ridly Greig #17 of Canada skates scores a goal on Leevi Meriläinen #1 of Finland in the IIHF World Junior Championship on August 15, 2022 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (Photo by Andy Devlin/ Getty Images) /
Leevi Meriläinen #1 (Photo by Andy Devlin/ Getty Images)
Leevi Meriläinen #1 (Photo by Andy Devlin/ Getty Images) /

Senators prospects dominating headlines once again at World Juniors

The Ottawa Senators entered this years version of the World Juniors with 6 prospects taking part, it’s safe to say that their performances have fans intrigued and ready for what’s next for this new generation of Sens players.

A pair of 2020 Draft selections have stolen the show over the past week, Ridly Greig has dominated his counterparts on both ends of the ice while Roby Järventie has flashed brilliance on the offensive end.

Other prospects like Ostapchuk, Hamara and Kleven have all played valuable depth roles for their respective teams and have also flashed some of the skills that tempted the Senators to select them.

Ridly Greig – Canada

2022 WJC Stats: 5GP, 3G-3A-6P, +2

Greig has made his presence known at this years tournament, and has been without a doubt one of, if not the most influential player on the Canadian roster. His tenacious style and reliable 200-foot game made him an instant coach’s favourite and the first player off the bench when the opponents top line steps on the ice. However, not confined strictly to the defensive end, Greig has wowed on a few occasions with his high-level skill, finishing one of the goals of the tournament with just one-hand.

It seems like a lock at this point that Greig will be selected as one of Team Canada’s top-3 players at the tournament’s conclusion, already capturing a pair of Player of the Game awards, a rare feat at the World Juniors.

Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse in Canada’s quarter final matchup when Swiss defender Vincent Despont hammered Greig while he didn’t have the puck, resulting in an apparent shoulder injury. Greig didn’t return for the remainder of the game and missed Team Canada’s practice the following day, it appears that the fiery forwards outlook for the remainder of the tournament is bleak.

You can clearly see Greig’s left-shoulder immediately slump following the contact, not a good sign as shoulder injuries can be pretty severe. Greig missed the remainder of the game and wasn’t at Team Canada’s practice today, so it looks like his tournament may be over, a bad sign for Senators and Canadian fans as the fiery-forward has been the team’s heartbeat. Canadian head coach Dave Cameron raved about Greig’s impact on the team, calling the 20-year-old forward “the team’s best player”.

Roby Järventie – Finland

2022 WJC Stats: 5GP, 4G-5A-9P, -2

Järventie has been a revelation over the past week, his 9 points rank 3rd in the entire tournament, trailing only Mason McTavish and teammate Joakim Kemell. He’s done a tremendous job at showing why he’s one of the more exciting prospects in the Senators system. The 20-year-old forward’s unique blend of skill and size has popped numerous times especially on the power-play, where the talented winger has scored 4 goals and added 3 assists. Järventie has been a threat from the right-bumper with the man advantage, his quick release has caught opposing goaltenders by surprise and his one-timer hasn’t left anything to be desired either.

It’s well-known that Järventie has an elite shot, but his puck distribution has opened a lot of eyes, he’s able to hold onto the puck and find the open lane with regularity. There’s no question that Järventie will be pivotal if Finland wants to capture their 6th World Junior Championship.

Zack Ostapchuk

2022 WJC Stats: 5GP, 1G-2A-3P
The Senators 2nd Round Pick (39th Overall) in the 2021 NHL Draft has made his presence felt in a depth role for the Canadians, his blend of speed and physicality has allowed him to be very effective on the forecheck. Most of Ostapchuk’s tournament has been played on the fourth line, but he’s provided great value on the penalty kill and fits perfectly into the role he’s been given.
Senators assistant General Manager Trent Mann had some nice things to say about Ostapchuk’s performance so far:

"“Team Canada has been impressed with his approach and what his results have been. His role has just kind of continued to grow. He’s played a little bit on the wing on the fourth line and he’s been centre on the fourth line so he’s shown his versatility. He’s used his size, his physicality and he’s been the whole package for them.”"

Tomas Hamara #9  (Photo by Lawrence Scott/Getty Images)
Tomas Hamara #9  (Photo by Lawrence Scott/Getty Images) /

Tomas Hamara

2022 WJC Stats: 5GP, 0G-1A-1P, +3

Hamara had a slow start to the tournament, struggling at times in Czechia’s opening game versus Slovakia, but with each game he’s looked increasingly better and has now carved out a larger role on the back end for the Czech’s. Hamara’s skill with the puck has been apparent at times, he breaks pucks out of his zone with ease, using his vision and skating ability to ward off oncoming forecheckers. The 18-year-old defenceman contributed on the scoresheet in Czechia’s upset over the USA, recording an assist after a perfectly executed breakout:

Hamara and Czechia will face the Canadians once again in the Semi-Final tomorrow evening.

Senators fans have to be pleased with the performance of Hamara, the only member of the Senators 2022 Draft Class to represent their country at this years edition of the World Juniors.

Tyler Kleven – USA

2022 WJC Stats: 5GP, 0G-0A-0P

Kleven played a stable, bottom-pairing role with the American’s and one that he will likely play at the next level. Standing at 6’4″ and 214 pounds, Kleven plays with a ton of edge, making opponents pay with his thundering body checks. The American’s were eliminated from contention in their loss yesterday to Czechia, ending Kleven’s tournament earlier than many expected.

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You’re never going to see flashy numbers from the punishing defenceman, but if he can continue to improve his effectiveness with the puck and refine some of his play in his own end there’s he seems destined for the back-half of the Senators d-corps. He’s an intimidating player to play against, he uses his size effectively to clear the front of the crease:

Leevi Meriläinen

2022 WJC Stats: 4GP, 3W-1L-0OTL, 0.893 SV%, 2.70 GAA

Meriläinen has done well enough in his first 4 starts to warrant some praise despite his 0.893 save percentage, making a lot of crucial saves to propel the Fins to victory in some tight games. His “worst” performance came in the final game of the preliminary round against the Canadian’s, Meriläinen stopped 31/36 shots in a 6-3 loss to Canada, but his performance probably warranted a better result. In the OHL Meriläinen seemed to thrive on odd-man rushes and breakaways, and it’s been more of the same in this tournament.

For some reason Meriläinen is exceptional on breakaways, never looking flustered and he uses his athleticism to track shooters from side-to-side. He stopped 4/5 shootout attempts by Czechia earlier in the tournament to lead Finland to victory. In order for Finland to win the gold medal, Meriläinen will have to continue to add to his highlight-reel, starting tomorrow against Sweden.