With the preliminary games in the books at the 2023 World Junior Hockey Championship, we can evaluate how well the Montreal Canadiens prospect pool performed versus the various other prospect pools in the NHL.
And the results are very encouraging.
Habs On Top
With six players at the tournament, the Canadiens have an advantage in numbers over most teams due to the sheer quantity of prospects playing.
Also, due to the play of high-end prospects such as Joshua Roy (Canada), Filip Mesar (Slovakia), Adam Engstrom (Sweden), Lane Hutson (USA) and Oliver Kapanen (Finland), Canadiens prospects outperformed every other NHL prospect pool in the league when it comes to their combined Game Score metric, which measures play in one matchup, to evaluate which hockey player enjoyed the best game.
Which NHL prospect pools had the most success (measured by Game Score) during the World Juniors group stage?
MTL stands above the rest with strong results from Mesar, Hutson, Roy, etc.
NJD also checks out very well with contributions from Hughes, Nemec, Vilen and Hauser. pic.twitter.com/gU7XXLY3Se
— Lassi Alanen (@lassialanen) January 1, 2023
Even Vinzenz Rohrer, who captained Austria and scored his first goal of the tournament in the relegation game against Latvia, provided a positive game score, despite facing a very stiff level of competition, playing against teams like Canada (11-0), the Czech Republic (11-2), and Sweden (11-0).
— Steven Ellis (@SEllisHockey) January 2, 2023
The fantastic numbers are a result of the Canadiens having one of the best prospect pools in their recent history, and could be even higher if players such as Owen Beck, who will join the team due to an injury, were included in the lineup.
Not to mention, the Canadiens also could have sent first-overall pick Juraj Slafkovsky to the tournament, which would have surely added to their overall game score, creating even more of a gap between the Canadiens and New Jersey Devils, as well the Arizona Coyotes.
And for those who look to the future, there’s a healthy possibility the Canadiens will end up finishing in a position in the standings which will allow them to put their hands on one of the many elite prospects at the tournament.
If we focus simply on expected goals, the Canadiens’ prospect pool drops to second in the tournament, though it’s worth noting that’s mostly because Coyotes prospect Julian Lutz has been directly involved in over 25 percent of Germany’s scoring plays.
Except for Rohrer, every Canadiens prospect made it to the medal rounds on Monday, with Kapanen and Finland facing off against Engstrom and Sweden, Roy and Canada meeting Mesar and Slovakia, and Lane Hutson’s Team USA playing against Germany.
Click here to see the schedule for the elimination games at the 2023 World Junior Championship.