The couple of Wild prospects on Team Canada have not been good, at all.
The World Juniors is typically a place for us to get a glimpse of our favorite team’s top prospects and what they actually look like during live and full games, instead of six-minute clips on YouTube. That eventually turns into being either thoroughly impressed by some teenaged performance, or just disappointed and quickly forgotten about as we turn towards the Big Boys of the actual team we support.
This year, for the Minnesota Wild, as the group stage wraps up for the weird summer version of the 2022 World Juniors, it’s certainly been a mixed bag of confirming what we already believe or being let down. The two primary targets of the latter have been the Canadian defenseman duo of Ryan O’Rourke and Carson Lambos.
After Lambos appeared in the opening game and honestly looked horrible, the Wild 2021 first-rounder has not seen the ice since, with the coaches opting for more cemented players like Olen Zellweger to lead the charge on the blue line down in the lineup. It puts him in an awkward position, heading back to his final junior year, but hopefully he can take this criticism and disappointment into fuel for the fire that can spark something as he turns pro a year from now.
On the other side of the loonie, is Ryan O’Rourke, who has been able to stay in the lineup, but with every passing game has been seeing less and less ice-time. In the majority of his games, he has seen less than 10 minutes of playing time and that is just nothing to go off of.
Well, I guess we can talk about some specific performances now.
Ryan O’Rourke, Canada vs. Finland
Similar to the rest of his games, O’Rourke was Canada’s seventh defenseman and had just 7:34 TOI, got one shot on goal, and earned a big, old, and fat zero in plus-minus against Finland on Monday.
There is truly nothing to really remark about this performance, and honestly, we shouldn’t be surprised if during the medal round, we see Canada go with six blueliners and both O’Rourke and Lambos are part of the scratches.
Liam Ohgren, Sweden vs. Germany
On the non-Canadian side of things, in the final game of the group stage, we saw some inkling of an increased opportunity on Team Sweden.
Jesper Wallstedt served as the backup for some much-deserved rest before the medal round, Liam Ohgren got some more ice-time than previously. With a total of 14:02 TOI, Ohgren was leaned on as the top forwards on Sweden like Fabian Lysell, were given a break before the games end up mattering much more. With his increased opportunity, he didn’t really produce anything — ended with one shot on goal and a minus-1 in a 4-2 win for his team — but at least there is some trust built in with the coaching staff that he can be the next-guy-up if they need some help from their depth.
In the end, Ohgren is still the young guy on this team and will not be leaned on too heavily to get the clutch goals down the stretch. He’s still developing after being just drafted last month, so we can excuse some games where it’s just a big blob of “meh.”
The medal round begins Wednesday, and we have the whole schedule available here for you:
Quarterfinal Schedule — August 17
Sweden (Ohgren, Wallstedt) vs. Latvia — 2:30 PM
Canada (Lambos???, O’Rourke???) vs. Switzerland — 6:00 PM
United States (Peart, Faber) vs. Czechia (Spacek) — 9:30 PM