As the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship approaches, teams are beginning to release their preliminary rosters for the tournament, which will take place in Halifax and Moncton, Canada. The Buffalo Sabres have several prospects eligible for the tournament, and three have been named to a roster. So far, Isak Rosen and Noah Ostlund are part of Sweden’s preliminary roster, while Jiří Kulich is part of Czechia’s preliminary roster. Surprisingly, Matthew Savoie was left off Canada’s preliminary roster.
Rosen and Ostlund to Represent Sweden
On Sweden’s preliminary roster is 2021 first-round pick Isak Rosen. Rosen is currently playing this season with the Rochester Americans after spending much of last year in the SHL. In Sweden, Rosen’s ice time was a concern for the Sabres, so they signed him to an entry-level contract on May 31, 2022.
Rosen represented Sweden at the 2022 World Junior Championship this past August, winning bronze with the team and recording four goals and one assist in seven games. His appearance at the 2022 tournament came after battling an injury that had sidelined him for a few months.
In August, Rosen was joined on Sweden’s roster by Sabres 2022 seventh-round pick Linus Sjödin, who did not make the cut for this tournament. Instead, 2022 first-round pick Noah Ostlund will join Rosen for the 2023 tournament.
Should Ostlund make the final roster for Sweden, 2023 would mark his first World Junior Championship. Previously, he competed for Sweden at the U-18 level. Most recently, he represented Sweden at the 2022 IIHF U-18 World Championship, where he finished with four goals and six assists. This season, Ostlund plays for Djurgardens in HockeyAllsvenskan and currently has two goals and nine assists through his first 19 games.
Kulich Returns for Czechia
Another Sabres prospect on a preliminary roster is Kulich, who was a 2022 first-round pick. Kulich was announced as part of Czechia’s preliminary roster, marking his second trip to the World Junior Championship. In the 2022 tournament, he recorded two goals and six assists when Czechia fell to Sweden in the bronze medal game. He also represented Czechia at the 2022 U-18 World Championship, where he served as the team captain and had nine goals and two assists, earning himself the title of tournament MVP.
Related: Sabres’ Isak Rosen Adds Skill & Playmaking Ability to Prospect Pipeline
Latest News & Highlights
Like Rosen, Kulich has been playing this season in Rochester after signing a three-year entry-level contract with the Sabres in July. Kulich has five goals and nine assists in 22 games since joining the Americans.
Canada Leaves Out Savoie
The Sabres’ top 2022 draft prospect Matthew Savoie is not heading to the World Juniors. Savoie, drafted ninth overall this past June, was left off Canada’s selection camp roster. Currently, he plays for the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice, where he’s put up an impressive 12 goals and 19 assists through 25 games. During his draft year, Savoie finished the season with 33 goals and 55 assists through 65 games, making him seventh overall in points in the WHL.
Savoie not being invited to Canada’s selection camp is a move that surprised many. While Canada has never lacked in offensive talent for this tournament, a top-ten draft pick not getting a look at selection camp raises eyebrows.
However, the World Juniors are hardly a predictor of NHL success down the line. For Sabres fans, one example could be Casey Mittelstadt. At the 2018 World Juniors Championship, Mittelstadt recorded four goals and seven assists and was named the tournament MVP. Since then, he’s struggled to maintain consistent production on the Sabres.
Savoie not making the cut this year means nothing to his future success or failure in the NHL. Also, it’s worth noting that he’s only 18 and could potentially make the cut next year, depending on when he joins the Sabres and their willingness to let him go.
Sabres Represented Well
Despite Savoie being left off of Canada’s roster, the 2023 World Juniors should still provide ample entertainment for Sabres fans over the holidays. The tournament will provide fans with a glimpse of Rosen and Ostlund working together outside of development camp and a chance to see Kulich fight for a medal he fell short of in August. All three players will give fans a good look at what’s to come for the Sabres.