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Canadiens Prospects With Best Chances To Play In World Juniors

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Montreal Canadiens prospect Owen Beck

The Montreal Canadiens are set to be well represented at this years’ World Junior Championships, but will all nine eligible prospects make it?

The Canadiens continue to stock their cupboards with talented young players, and will have a few of their most recent draftees fighting for spots on their respective country’s rosters.

We evaluate their chances below:

 

Virtual Locks

Joshua Roy is a sure bet to be on the Canadian roster come December, having played a vital part of this summer’s gold-medal-winning team.

He’s heating up as of late and has improved his 200-foot game a great deal in the process; making him a shoo-in for a top-six role for Canada this holiday season.

Oliver Kapanen is another returnee on this list that will see an increased role. Utilized primarily in a defensive role in the previous tournament, Kapanen will be asked to take on one of the top-six centre roles for Finland in this tournament.

Having already developed some chemistry with 2022 1st round pick Joakim Kemell in past tournaments, Kapanen could find himself on the top line playing in all situations as Finland looks to return to secure another goal medal.

Vinzenz Rohrer might not have played during this summer’s World Juniors, but he did partake in two games for Austria last December before the World Juniors were cancelled because of a Covid-19 outbreak.

He chose not to attend this summer’s tournament in order to focus his attention on getting ready for the season, and, so far, it’s paid off. Rohrer will be a key piece for Austria, as he and Detroit Red Wings’ 1st rounder Marco Kasper will be tasked with doing most of the heavy lifting offensively.

Filip Mesar is another player who represented his country at the cancelled World Juniors last December, but opted out of this summer’s make-up tournament to prepare for the upcoming season.

It’ll be interesting to see if Mesar will be used at centre or on the wing, as he is comfortable playing both positions. From the Canadiens’ standpoint, they might wish for him to play down the middle, giving the Slovak team a solid 1-2 punch.

But, if he does play on the wing, you can expect Mesar to slot on the top line next to 2023 NHL Draft prospect Dalibor Dvorsky and play a primordial role for Slovakia, as they look to continue taking the hockey world by storm.

Lane Hutson is the only lock on this list that hasn’t played in this tournament before.

The 18-year-old hit the ground running in his NCAA career, posting six goals and eight assists for 14 points in just 12 games for the Boston University Terriers.

He is currently tied with Luke Hughes (4th, 2021) and Seamus Casey (46th, 2022) in scoring for U-20 defencemen in the NCAA, while playing on a far less offensive team than the powerhouse Michigan Wolverines.

Nonetheless, you can expect all three to make the roster this December and play a vital role for Team USA.

 

Good Chances

Brought on this summer as a last-minute addition to the roster for Team Canada, Riley Kidney was the extra forward on a stacked Canadian roster.

Having picked up right where he left off last season, and with the tournament being held in Halifax, Kidney remains extra motivated to force management’s hand and ensure he’s on the roster come December.

Of anyone not a virtual lock, he’s got the highest chance of making it.

Owen Beck is one of those players that has really come on as of late, showing a strong developmental curve since being drafted and putting himself in a good position to force his way on the roster.

Beck is exactly the type of centre you want on your bottom six in this kind of tournament. He’s quick, very strong offensive, even better defensively and led the OHL in faceoff percentage as a 17-year-old rookie last season.

The growth in his game. and his stellar showing at the Montreal Canadiens training camp likely grabbed Hockey Canada’s attention and could help him squeak on this already-loaded roster.

Adam Engstrom wasn’t known by many at the 2022 NHL Draft, but he’s certainly gotten the attention of Canadiens fans early on this season.

Dominating at the J-20 level, Engstrom has begun taking regular shifts in the SHL with Rögle this season and even represented Sweden in an internal friendly tournament in Czechia a few weeks ago.

His impressive play against men in Sweden’s top league, as well as his explosive offensive numbers amongst players in his age group could be enough to get him on Sweden’s roster.

 

Montreal Canadiens, Maybe?

Juraj Slafkovsky would be an automatic, but it all depends on what the Montreal Canadiens want to do.

If he’s made available, Slafkovsky would be one of the biggest names in the tournament and would make an immediate impact for Slovakia as they aim for a medal-winning finish.

 

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