It looks like there will be three Flyers prospects participating in the World Juniors this month. Cutter Gauthier is a lock and Alex Ciernik is an experienced international player. Add Oliver Bonk to this list as well. With Canada making their roster cuts on Wednesday afternoon, it was Bonk who secured a spot on the team. His fellow London Knights' teammate Denver Barkey, however, was among the eight cuts. Bonk will still have a familiar face in teammate Easton Cowen.
Canada decided to go with 12 forwards as there is some hope they can add an NHL player before the tournament. That could have been part of the reason Barkey was edged out of a spot. He had a strong camp and drew plenty of praise from the coaching staff and teammates. He had a goal and an assist in Canada's first game. And it wasn't just his offense that stood out.
""I see him lots in London, he gives you everything on the ice. He's such a swiss army knife, he can play on the powerplay, he can play on the penalty kill."- Head Coach Alan Letang said about Barkey
The positive for Barkey is that he is eligible next season as well. And if Canada is unable to secure NHL talent, there is a chance he could still make the final roster before the tournament starts. With the talk about his game during camp, it was a bit shocking to see him not make the team. But he should still have a lot to be happy about with the effort he gave. Now, he can go back to London with this experience and use it to fuel him the rest of the way.
As for Bonk, this is quite an accomplishment at 18-years-old. Canada is going with a largely inexperienced lineup, as they only have one returning member from the gold-medal-winning team from last year. The competition was up for grabs, and Bonk ran with it with it. Even though he was the seventh defenseman in Canada's final game, he still stood out. Being able to do that in a likely limited role is impressive.
And that will continue to be important for Bonk as he is likely to be a third-pair defenseman for Canada during the World Juniors. If he can continue to find ways to stand out when he is not getting top minutes or opportunities, it can go a long way. It will be different from the role he is used to in London, as he had recently added power play time to his already full arsenal. Showing he can play heavy minutes could also help him if Canada runs into injury troubles.
Canada may not necessarily be the favorite to win the gold medal again this year. But they are giving plenty of players opportunities to show their skillsets on a bigger stage. Bonk will have a chance to make an even bigger name for himself.