The World Junior Championships are set to restart at the beginning of August after being cancelled back in December, and two top Montreal Canadiens prospects aren’t likely to attend.
According to Slovak journalist Tomas Prokop, it would be extremely unlikely to see 2022 1st overall pick Juraj Slafkovsky be available for this tournament representing Slovakia. It’s not overly surprising as Slafkovsky will likely look to avoid any possible injury before a very important training camp with the Montreal Canadiens. Starting the season on the right foot is very important for a youngster going into his first NHL training camp, and any injury can set you back in the integration and learning process. New Montreal Canadiens Kirby Dach lived that very process, as he got injured in December of 2020 at the World Juniors just a few weeks before NHL training camp and couldn’t find his bearings for the rest of that season.
The risk is real for Slafkovsky, but also for his fellow countryman, Filip Mesar. The Canadiens would reportedly like their other 2022 1st round pick to avoid the tournament as well. Mesar is in a little bit of a more complicated situation. Although Slafkovsky is likely to play in Laval or Montreal, Mesar has the option to play in the Ontario Hockey League for the Kitchener Rangers, should the Montreal Canadiens decide he’s not ready to play at the pro-level in the AHL this season with the Laval Rocket. Thus, Mesar has a very big camp ahead of him, and risking needless injury would be unwise for him as he also tries to get his feet wet in North America for the first time.
There could still be some Montreal Canadiens prospects attending the tournament, however, as we have not received confirmation, most notably from Kaiden Guhle, about the intentions of many of these prospects for the rescheduled tournament. More information should be released within the next couple of weeks as the tournament opens on August 9 in Edmonton.
No Juraj Slafkovsky, Simon Nemec and Filip Mesar on preliminary camp to the #WJC2022 in Poprad. Final decision about their start for Slovak U20 national team in Edmonton will be in the nese future. There is still hope that at least one of them will be in roster for the tournament
— Tomáš Prokop (@Lewysko) July 18, 2022