The World Junior Championships are set to restart at the beginning of August after being cancelled back in December, and some top Montreal Canadiens prospects aren’t going to attend.
According to Slovak journalist Matej Deraj, 2022 1st overall pick Juraj Slafkovsky was not on Slovakia’s roster for the 2022 World Junior Championships that are set to start in a few weeks. 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 told their other 2022 1st round pick to avoid the tournament as well. 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.
It’s not just the Montreal Canadiens’ Slovakian prospects that are skipping the rescheduled tournament, as it seems the Canadiens’ 2022 3rd round pick, Vinzenz Rohrer, will also not be representing Austria this August per former NHL scout Bernd Freimueller. With junior camps ready to start during that time, some youngsters have thought it wise to focus on starting the year on the right foot, rather than get sidetracked by a tournament they’ll all likely be participating in again four months from now. For Rohrer, it’s understandable, as his sophomore season in North America will be his most important one as he and the Ottawa 67s look to turn their fortunes around this year.