After the World Juniors were postponed back in December, the make-up tournament is set to get underway next week and will feature several Montreal prospects although not necessarily the ones at the original version of the tournament.
With NHL training camps six or so weeks away (rookie camps are about a week sooner), many teams have encouraged their top prospects to opt out and the Habs are certainly no exception. Kaiden Guhle, who captained Team Canada in the original version, won’t be back for the summer version. Meanwhile, both of their first-round picks in Juraj Slafkovsky and Filip Mesar won’t attend either. Slafkovsky isn’t too surprising as the Canadiens will want to manage his workload if he’s going to be in the NHL in 2022-23 while Mesar’s omission was a bit more surprising.
Meanwhile, Ty Smilanic, who played for the United States last winter, won’t be at this event. After a tough second half of the season at Quinnipiac, he’ll focus on getting off to a better start with Wisconsin.
Even with those players missing, Montreal will have some prospects of note to watch for at the tournament. Here’s a rundown of who will be participating and a projection of what their roles might be.
Joshua Roy – After being one of the final cuts from the original event, Roy went back to his club team and continued to light up the league, leading the QMJHL in scoring. That alone would have had him in the mix for a roster spot this summer before factoring in that about half of the forward group is new. Despite the prolific production, Roy isn’t likely to have a significant role on this roster. The third line seems to be the likely outcome and perhaps that’s enough to get him a bit of power play time.
Riley Kidney – Another top scorer from the QMJHL, Kidney isn’t quite good enough to land a spot in the top six either. I’m also a little hesitant to pencil him in on the third line while the fourth line should be more of an energy unit. Accordingly, it wouldn’t shock me if Kidney had a very limited role in this tournament, at least at the start. There are almost always injuries so even if he’s in a depth role (or the healthy scratch), there will be chances for him to move up.
Oliver Kapanen – The 2021 draft pick should have a similar role to the one he had in the original event where he’ll play in the top six, likely centring the second line. He’s not a player that’s necessarily going to stand out for flashy plays but if the Finns are going to have a good tournament, he’s someone that will play an important role.
Petteri Nurmi – If there’s one prospect I’m particularly intrigued to watch here, it’s Nurmi. The seventh-rounder was on Finland’s top pairing in the original version of this tournament and he should be in that role again here. After spending most of last year as one of the younger players in the SM-liiga, he will be one of the oldest players in this tournament. Is there more to his game than what he showed in the men’s league? This tournament will give Montreal fans a good idea about the answer to that question.
Jan Mysak – He will once again captain the Czechs for this event after doing so back in December when he played heavy minutes in their lone game. Mysak should once again be their go-to player in all situations and it will be interesting to see how he fares in that role here. He has been more of a complementary player recently including last season which is one of the bigger concerns I have from a development standpoint. This will be his last chance to be in this type of role for a while, can he make the most of it?
The tournament gets underway on Tuesday and will run through August 20th.