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.
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.
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)|