For fans of Canada’s NHL teams, this year’s World Juniors is a huge opportunity to watch their team’s best prospects play on one of the biggest stages the game has to offer.
Coverage of the 2024 World Juniors will begin on Boxing Day with Slovakia vs. Czech Republic at 6 a.m. ET/3 a.m. PT on TSN3 and streamed on TSN.ca and the TSN app.
The United States and Sweden are gold medal favorites, and there’s a good chance many players from those teams will return from that tournament for a rematch in the 2022 U18 Championship Game.
Here are seven potential Canadian NHL teams to keep an eye on in Gothenburg.
Lane Hutson – USA (Canadian)
Since being drafted 62nd overall by the Montreal Canadiens in 2022, Hutson has done everything he can to prove that the organization was right to take a chance on the diminutive defenseman.
Hutson, currently 5-foot-10, has eight goals and 20 points in 15 games for Boston College this season. This comes after a dominant rookie season in 2022-23 in which he scored 48 points and scored 15 goals in 39 games.
He was named associate captain of Team USA.
“He might end up being the best defenseman in the tournament,” TSN scouting director Craig Button said. “No stage is too big for Lane Hutson. He’s amazing. It goes from his head to his hands to his feet.”
At last year’s tournament, Hutson, 18, had one goal and three assists, helping the U.S. team win the bronze medal. At the spring world championships, he played in nine games for the United States, scoring two goals and providing four assists.
Samuel Honzek – Slovakia (Flames)
Last year, Honzek suffered a cut on his left calf from a skate, forcing him to be out of action for two months, and the World Junior Tournament was canceled midway through.
The Trencin, Slovakia native played in 43 games with the Western Hockey League’s Vancouver Giants in the 2022-23 season, scoring 23 goals and 56 points, before being selected by the Calgary Flames with the 16th overall pick in June’s draft. I couldn’t.
However, injuries struck again during training camp, with Honzek suffering a lower-body injury in an NHL preseason game on October 4, causing him to miss the first two months of the season. He made his season debut with the Giants on December 1, scoring three goals and eight points in five games.
In his third World Junior Tournament, he was selected as the associate captain of the Slovakia national team.
“Samuel is big and strong,” Button said. “He’s a playmaker and a goalscorer as well. His ability to push inside the dot and push it to the net gives him more than just seeing an opening and pushing the puck into the net.
“But if there’s not an opening there, there’s going to be an opening elsewhere. So his playmaking skills and goal-scoring go hand in hand. He’s going to take that opportunity either way. You can take advantage of it.”
Philippe Messard – Slovakia (Canadian)
Like Honzek, Mesar will return to the World Juniors for a third time representing Slovakia and will wear the ‘A’ mark.
Messar, selected 26th overall in the 2022 draft by the Montreal Canadiens, is off to a strong start in his second season in the Ontario Hockey League with the Kitchener Rangers. He has played in 20 games this season, scoring 13 goals and 32 points.
“He’s one of the most skilled players they have,” said Button of Messard. “Philip will be expected to provide attack and he has the ability. This is his third World Junior Championship. To be able to go in there and be a leader and provide attack is really, really It’s important.”
Mesard also appeared in two games with the AHL’s Laval Rocket earlier this season, recording one assist.
Jonathan Reckelimäki – Sweden (Canucks)
Although the team slumped offensively in the 2022-23 season, Lekkerimäki has made a comeback this season.
The 19-year-old was drafted 15th overall in the 2022 draft by the Vancouver Canucks and scored 10 goals and 16 points in 24 games for Orebro of the Swedish Hockey League.
At last year’s World Juniors, he had one goal and four points in seven games as Sweden finished fourth. He helped Sweden win the bronze medal at the 2022 Games.
“Blessed with attacking talent, he has a really powerful and deceptive shot,” said Button of Lekkerimäki. “He’s fast, fast. If you get the shot, he can make the play. He was the top scorer at the U18 tournament in 2022, where Sweden won the gold medal. He’s Sweden’s front-line player. is.”
In 2022 with the U18s, Lekkerimäki scored 5 goals and 15 points in 6 games, helping Sweden win the tournament for the second time.
Tom Wilander – Sweden (Canucks)
Vancouver, who is also a first-round pick of the Canucks, took the defenseman with the 11th overall pick in June’s draft after a strong 2022-23 season with Sweden’s Rogle BK J20.
As a rookie at Boston University this season, Wilander had three goals and eight points in 15 games.
“The way I look at it, he’s like Charlie McAvoy,” Button said. “He’s stubborn. He’s going to play an important role in a lot of different areas. He was solid on defense, he had great minutes on offense in transition. He and Axel Sandin Pelica are great players on that blue line. It will be essential.”
In 2023, in the U18s, he scored 3 goals and 8 points in 7 games, helping Sweden win the silver medal.
Tomas Hamara – Czech Republic (Senator)
Hamara, a third-round pick (87th overall) by the Ottawa Senators in 2022, is skating in his second OHL season.
On November 11, he was traded from the Kitchener Rangers to the Brantford Bulldogs. He has one goal and 11 points in 32 games between both teams.
The Prague native helped his team win silver at last year’s tournament and is representing the Czech Republic at the World Juniors.
“He leans towards the offensive side of the game in terms of jumping into offense. He’s a really good skater,” said Button of Hamara. “He’s bold.”
Rutger McGroarty – USA (Jets)
In mid-November, McGraw-Arty suffered a punctured lung and fractured ribs that threatened to prevent him from playing in the tournament, but he recovered enough to play and was named captain of the U.S. team.
McGroarty, who was selected 14th overall by the Winnipeg Jets in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, has six goals and 18 points in 13 games for the University of Michigan this season.
He helped the U.S. national team win a silver medal in the U18s in 2022, and won a bronze medal at last year’s World Juniors by scoring 7 points in 7 games.
“Simply put, Rutger is the heartbeat of the team,” Button said. “He’s a model of ‘I’m here for one reason and one thing: to win.’ I’m here to teach you how to win. I’m here to lead the way to victory. ”
“He’s a competitor at heart. Some players compete, and some players love to compete. Rutger is that player.”