CHL Notebook: Canadiens prospects well represented at World Juniors

Future NHL stars are developing in the Canadian Hockey League this season. Each week, will highlight some of the top NHL-affiliated prospects in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League and Western Hockey League.

There were 30 NHL draft prospects who left their CHL teams to play in the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship, topped by four from the Montreal Canadiens.

Among them was the Canada forward Joshua Roywho tied for fourth in the tournament with 11 points (five goals, six assists), including an assist on the gold medal-winning goal in Canada’s 3-2 overtime win against the Czech Republic on Thursday.

Roy has been equally effective with Sherbrooke of the QMJHL, where he is third on the team with 43 points (18 goals, 25 assists) in 26 games.

It’s been a big rise for the 19-year-old, who the Canadiens selected in the fifth round (No. 150) of the 2021 NHL Draft.

“He was the first overall pick in the (2019) Q (draft) and I don’t think he came out of the blocks the way he had hoped or anybody had,” Canadiens director of player development Rob Ramage said. “Ended up changing teams in the middle of the season, went from Saint John to Sherbrooke, where he is now. And it started to turn around for him. We were lucky to get him … discount is not the right word, but really, fifth round pick and here (he is) one of the top scorers … I think we got him at a good time, where his value was going up.”

Vinzenz Rohrera third-round pick (No. 75) in the 2022 NHL Draft, had three points (one goal, two assists) in five games and was Austria’s captain.

“That seems to be his character,” Ramage said. “We saw it in the development camp in July. The kid has a good spirit about him. Very mature for his age.”

Rohrer has 32 points (11 goals, 21 assists) in 26 games with Ottawa in the OHL this season.

“The level of competition is very high,” Ramage said of the 18-year-old forward. “Not a big guy (5-foot-10, 160 pounds). He’s going to have to hit the weight room in the summer like so many of our young guys, because physically he’s not there yet. But hockey sense, skill set, it’s very good . And the competition, he doesn’t shy away. He’s not a big guy and yet he’s right in the fight, he’s in the fight all the time.”

Forward Philip Mesar tied for the Slovakia lead with six points (two goals, four assists), including the game-winning goal in a 6-3 win against the United States in the preliminary round.

Selected by the Canadiens in the first round (No. 26) of the 2022 draft, the 19-year-old has 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists) in 17 games with Kitchener in the OHL.

“He had a really good rookie tournament,” Ramage said. “He stood out, he played like a pro, his habits were very, very good … It’s just the details [in his game]. You see this guy is very responsible for a young guy.”

Owen Beck joined Canada for the medal round after Colton Dach (Chicago Blackhawks) suffered an injury and had one assist and averaged 4:23 of ice time in three games. But Canada coach Dennis Williams spoke positively of Beck’s contributions, especially after his first game, a 4-3 overtime win against Slovakia when he played two shifts totaling 1:41 but drew a penalty on one of them.

“A lot of people can look at that and just say, ‘Oh, he played a minute,”’ Williams said. “Well, it was a big minute. We needed that minute from him.”

The 18-year-old, selected in the second round (No. 33) of the 2022 draft, has 40 points (17 goals, 23 assists) in 30 games for Mississauga in the OHL.

“It’s exciting for the organization and obviously for the fans in Montreal,” Ramage said of the Montreal players at the World Juniors. “They’re getting a taste of it now with the guys that are in [Canadiens]but now they get a better preview on a pretty big stage of what’s to come.”


Pavel MintyukovD, Saginaw (Anaheim Ducks): Mintyukov finished December with 16 points (two goals, 14 assists) in 10 games and became the first player to be named OHL Defensive Player of the Month in three consecutive months. Selected by the Ducks with the No. 10 pick in the 2022 draft, the 19-year-old leads the OHL defensemen and is third among all players with 51 points (14 goals, 37 assists) in 35 games, entering Friday.

Patrik HamrlaG, Rimouski (Carolina Hurricanes): Hamrla had his first shutout of the season, making 18 saves in a 4-0 win against Shawinigan on December 28. The 19-year-old got his second a night later, making 14 saves in a 9-0 win against Victoriaville. Selected by the Hurricanes in the third round (No. 83) of the 2021 draft, Hamrla is 7-0-1 with a 1.54 goals-against average and .936 save percentage in his last eight games before Friday. In 24 games this season, he is 13-8-2 with a 2.64 GAA and .889 save percentage.

Kyle MastersD, Kamloops (Minnesota Wild): Masters had 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) during a seven-game hitting streak that ended Wednesday, and he had at least two points in six of the seven games. Selected by the Wild in the fourth round (No. 118) of the 2021 draft, the 19-year-old has 35 points (six goals, 29 assists) in 33 games entering Friday, more than double his total last season when he had 14 points (three goals, 11 assists) in 65 games.

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