An early projection of the rosters for the upcoming 2023 World Junior Championships shows that the Montreal Canadiens will be well-represented this time around.
The upcoming tournament, set to take place in Halifax and Moncton this holiday season, could be some must-see hockey for Canadiens fans, as the club could have close to nine players with legitimate chances of cracking their respective national teams.
Let’s take a look at who are some early favourites to participate in the World Juniors this December:
The Montreal Canadiens will have quite a few options available to Hockey Canada when it comes to building out their roster. The returning Joshua Roy played a big part in helping the 2022 edition of Team Canada secure a goal medal in Edmonton this summer, especially during the medal rounds. He will more than likely be a lock to make the club right off the bat and could also have a letter on his jersey when all is said and done.
Riley Kidney remains a question mark at this junction, as he was the 14th forward for Team Canada and didn’t see much action at the tournament. With 2022 1st rounders like Matthew Savoie, Morgan Geekie and possibly even Shane Wright likely to join the club, not to mention NCAA phenom Adam Fantilli, it may be difficult for Kidney to lock himself down a spot this time around.
Owen Beck is another that will be high on Team Canada’s radar for the 2023 tournament, as he has quickly risen in the esteem of many this fall after an impressive Montreal Canadiens training camp. He’s slowly begun to break out offensively in the OHL as well, potting nine points in just two games this past weekend. Above all, Beck would be a perfect shutdown-type player for Team Canada in such a tight tournament. He already plays a very pro-ready game and could squeak out some more talented players for a roster spot based on his versatility.
Owen Beck (MON) out here casually dropping a 6-point night.
I feel like he may have shaken the return-to-junior rust.
— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) October 22, 2022
Lane Hutson was one of the final cuts from the 2022 roster for Team USA this summer and impressed a great deal during his time at their summer camp. The puck-moving defenceman has quickly gotten off to a strong start with the Boston University Terriers and looks to be among the more dominant offensive defencemen in all of college hockey at the moment.
There will be a lot of opportunities for the 04’class of defencemen to crack the roster this time around, and Hutson could have a prime role running one of Team USA’s power play waves, all while being an ace-in-the-hole on transition.
First goal for Lane Hutson!
Premier but pour Lane Hutson!
— BU Men’s Hockey (@TerrierHockey) October 22, 2022
After starting off his junior career with a bang, Filip Mesar is likely to be available for Team Slovakia this December as they look to continue their momentum in international tournaments lately. The expectation is that Mesar will be loaned out for the tournament and will play a starring role for the Slovak team, given his experience against men and well-equipped toolbox of offensive skill.
After Mesar, all eyes will be on Juraj Slafkovsky. If he is playing in Laval closer to the holiday season, it may be an experience the Montreal Canadiens would want him to partake in for the purposes of boosting his confidence and testing his development against players in his age group. The thought of reuniting the deadly Ivan Hlinka line of Slafkovsky, Mesar and 2023-eligible forward Dalibor Dvorsky would be very exciting for Slovak and Canadiens fans alike, as those three have made magic together on multiple occasions on the international stage.
FILIP MEŠÁR ARE YOU KIDDING ME? 🥶🥶
— OntarioHockeyLeague (@OHLHockey) October 23, 2022
Vinzenz Rohrer would be a shoo-in to make Team Austria, alongside 2022 8th overall pick Marco Kasper. Rohrer plays a gritty and intense game that becomes even more valuable in elimination situations. So far this season, he’s been a very reliable and clutch player for the Ottawa 67s, putting up ten points in nine games, all while taking important defensive missions for his young club.
Rohrer was initially invited to partake in the 2022 World Juniors, but opted out in order to spend his summer focused on training and getting ready for a very important season. Now that he’s hit the ground running on his sophomore season in the OHL, he’ll be an important piece for Team Austria as they look to stay in the top division in hockey.
The @CanadiensMTL prospect hit second gear and never looked back 💨🚨
It was a record setting day for the @Ottawa67sHockey starting a season 6-0 for the first time in franchise history, and Vinzenz Rohrer used his #BestOfOHL boots to help get it done! 🎥 pic.twitter.com/1dFMgltQyx
— OntarioHockeyLeague (@OHLHockey) October 16, 2022
Adam Engstrom had a shot at being considered for Team Sweden during the 2023 edition of the tournament, but his recent play for Rögle in the Swedish Hockey League has now put his name firmly in the conversation for a roster spot on the team. Drafted in the 3rd round of the 2022 NHL Draft, Engstrom has jumped out in a big way this season, performing exceedingly well at the J-20 level, which has earned him 11 games with the main team so far this season.
He’s shown good hockey IQ during his time with Rögle and the ability to play varying styles on the ice whenever needed. He’s certainly caught the eye of many in Sweden and could be a legitimate option for Sweden come decision time in December if he continues to trend in the direction he is now.
— Patrik Bexell (@Zeb_Habs) October 15, 2022
Oliver Kapanen has looked like a player transformed this season in the Finnish Liiga for KalPa. Often seen as a responsible and feisty centre capable of playing in multiple situations, the Montreal Canadiens’ 2021 2nd round pick has seemingly taken his offensive game up a notch and is playing with much more confidence than last season.
That will serve him well as a returning member of Team Finland for this tournament. His experience and ability to play sound, two-way hockey will be valuable to the club that will be undergoing some significant turnover from their 2022 edition. It will be interesting to see if he’s place in a more offensive situation this time around.
Oliver Kapanen, with a nice push, steal and goal here. His third of the season and second point of the game.
He is wearing the blue helmet as he leads the juniors of his team in points. #Habs #GoHabsGo pic.twitter.com/wwaGQHHdj8
— Patrik Bexell (@Zeb_Habs) October 15, 2022