The 2016 World Juniors are almost upon us and for the first time in many years, the Canadiens will not have any prospects representing them. However, quite a few current Habs and IceCaps have had a chance to suit up for their respective countries in the past with quite a bit of success.
Though disappointing, the Canadiens not having any prospects in the tournament this year shouldn’t come entirely as a shock. Noah Juulsen (Canada) and Lukas Vejdemo (SWE) were the final cuts for each team but at the beginning of the season, Vejdemo wasn’t really on the radar. He was a late add for a summer tournament which was his first exposure to international play. And, as a third round pick that went undrafted the year before, no one was really expecting him to contend for a WJC spot at the time.
Juulsen not making Team Canada is the more disappointing of the two. In the warmup games, he didn’t play poorly but he failed to stand out and at the end of the day, Canada opted for more experience on the back end as all but one of their defencemen are in their final junior season. He’ll certainly be in contention for a roster spot at this time next year though.
As for 2014 draft picks, the options were very slim. Their top two picks, Nikita Scherbak and Brett Lernout, aged out and are too old to play this season. Three of their picks, Nikolas Koberstein, Hayden Hawkey, and Jake Evans, are four to five year projects with a much slower development curve that would have prevented them entirely from being in consideration for a spot. That left Daniel Audette as the only semi-realistic hope from that draft class this year and an early season shoulder injury killed any chance he may have had.
None of the above players were in the tournament last year either meaning that it’s the second straight draft class that didn’t have anyone make the WJC’s the following season. It’s also worth noting that Montreal only had two picks in the top-120 in each of those seasons as a result of Marc Bergevin dealing away some picks for shorter-term acquisitions.
But enough about the negative. The Habs still have quite a few young prospects that saw time in the World Juniors as recent as last year, including three that saw action in three straight tournaments. On the current Montreal roster, no fewer than 15 of their players suited up to represent their countries. Here is a look at how these players fared over the years:
* – Markov was listed as a member of the 1998 team but did not play.
|Jacob de la Rose||2013-2015||Sweden||20||5||5||10||32|
|Tomas Plekanec||2001/02||Czech Rep.||14||4||5||9||6|
|Tomas Fleischmann||2003/04||Czech Rep.||13||4||2||6||2|
^ – Includes one year of Division I (2009).
* – Was injured in the tournament opener.