Slafkovsky To The World Junior Championships?

By JD Lagrange – The 2023 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships (WJC) will be the 47th edition of the IIHF World Junior Championship, scheduled to be held from December 26, 2022 through January 5, 2023. As December is upon us, the hot topic of discussion for some of the participants in the tournament is if some of the eligible players who are in the NHL will be made available or not to play for their country.

In Seattle, it seems like the Kraken is gearing up to allow their first pick at the 2022 Draft, Shane Wright, to play for Canada. Wright is currently in the American Hockey League in a conditioning stint and he will be set to return to his NHL team soon… or go straight to Team Canada’s training camp.

Slafkovsky

One team that is very interested in knowing the Montreal Canadiens’ plans is Slovakia. While there have certainly been internal discussions I’m sure, the team has yet to announce if they will allow the 2022 first overall pick, Juraj Slafkovsky, to represent his country in the high-end tournament.

Juraj Slafkovsky

Prior to heading on their annual Western Canada road trip, the Canadiens have played 22 games so far. Slafkovsky has played in 17 of them and has accumulated three goals, two assists for five points. This puts him in a tie for 21st in NHL rookies’ scoring race, behind teammates Kaiden Guhle and Arber Xhekaj. The big Slovak winger’s differential sits at minus -2 and he averages 11 minutes of ice time per game, time mostly spent playing on the Canadiens’ fourth line.

It is my humble opinion that Slafkovsky would greatly benefit from a shot in the arm, getting a little bit of success by facing some easier competition in what is still a very high caliber, intense tournament. It would not only be good for his confidence, but he would also be playing top line minutes for his team.

When you think of it, it’s not like they can’t replace him on the fourth line either. If injuries are an issue in spite of the high number of forwards in Montreal, there are plenty of young players in Laval who deserve a call-up, as we’ve highlighted a few days ago.

I’m not sure when Slovakia will be starting their camp but Team Canada will have a four days selection camp from December 9-12. Then, the team will be preparing for the tournament. One would think that each participating team will start roughly around the same time.

This year, the event will be held in the Maritimes, in Halifax, Nova Scotia and Moncton, New Brunswick. So the Habs’ brass won’t have to go very far to keep a close eye on their Jewel. The WJC were originally scheduled to be hosted by Novosibirsk and Omsk, Russia, but Russia’s hosting rights were pulled in February 2022 in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

GROUP A(HALIFAX)GROUP B(MONCTON)
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆCanada๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธUnited States
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ชSweden๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎFinland
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟCzechia๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญSwitzerland
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ชGermany๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฐSlovakia
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡นAustria๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ปLatvia

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Chasing the Draft – November 29th Edition

By Bob Trask – After the weekend games and with US Thanksgiving now behind us, it’s a good time to review the standings and the reverse power rankings to see where the Canadiens might draft in the first round. I currently have them in 15th spot for their own pick and 18th spot for Florida’s pick.

Among other teams that may be of interest, Ottawa dropped from a #4 overall projected pick to #7 while Vancouver dropped from #6 to #11. Toronto remains at the same level as last week with the #25 overall projected pick. Note: These are my projections and are not based solely on current standings or points percentages.

While the Habs level of play may not be sustainable, they still remain closer to a wildcard spot than they do to a top five pick in the draft. In a great article by Arpon Basu and Marc Antoine Godin in The Athletic, Jeff Gorton reiterated that the team will not adopt a tank strategy and will employ other methods to build what they hope will be a perennial contender.

Player Watch

These rankings are a cross section of which players various scouting services ranked at #15 overall and #18 overall.

15th Overall Ranking

PLAYERPOSLEAGUEGPGAPTS
Will SmithCUSDP24172845
Riley HeidtFWHL23132336
Colby BarlowLWOHL20171431
Charlie StramelFNCAA14224
Ethan GauthierRWQMJHL2491726
Mikhail GulyayevLDMHL (Russia)51910
Jesse NurmiLWSweden Junior24152136
Otto StenbergC/WSweden Junior186814

18th Overall Ranking

PLAYERPOSLEAGUEGPGAPTS
Charlie StramelFNCAA14224
Colby BarlowLWOHL20171431
Kasper HalttunenFLiiga (Finland)8011
Quentin MustyLWOHL2071825
Cameron AllenRDOHL2321012
Theo LindsteinLDSweden Junior11257
Oliver MooreCUSDP24141731
Nate DanielsonCWHL25131528
William WhitelawCUSHL179817

As is apparent by these rankings, there are a lot of differences of opinion about who should be chosen at #15 and at #18 in next summer’s entry draft. Undoubtedly the opinions will change over time as will the final spot where the Canadiens will make their picks. Stay tuned for next week’s draft projections and player rankings.

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