The future stars of the NHL are being developed in the Canadian Hockey League this season. Each week, NHL.com will feature some of the best 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 Youth Championship ahead of four of the Montreal Canadiens.
Canada’s striker was among them Joshua Roywho tied for fourth in the tournament with 11 points (five goals, six assists), including an assist to clinch the gold medal in Canada’s 3-2 overtime win over the Czech Republic on Thursday.
Roy was equally successful against Sherbrooke of the QMJHL where he is third on the team with 43 points (18 goals, 25 assists) in 26 games.
It was a big climb for the 19-year-old, who was drafted by the Canadiens in the fifth round (#150) of the 2021 NHL Draft.
“He was the first pick in the Q (draft) (2019) and I don’t think he’ll come out of the blocks like he or anyone else hoped,” said Rob Ramage, director of player development for the Canadiens. “He finished switching teams mid-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 it at the right moment when its value was rising.
Vinzenz Rohrerdrafted in the third round (#75) of the 2022 NHL Draft, scored three points (one goal, two assists) in five games and captained Austria.
“That seems to be his character,” Ramage said. “We saw it at a development camp in July. This kid has a great spirit. Very mature for his age.”
Rohrer scored 32 points (11 goals, 21 assists) in 26 games with Ottawa in the OHL this season.
“The level of competition is really high,” Ramage said of the 18-year-old striker. “He’s not a big guy (5ft 10, 160 pounds). In the summer he will have to hit the gym like many of our young guys because he is not physically there yet. But the hockey sense, the skill set, is very good. And he does not shy away from competition. He’s not a big guy and yet he’s right in the middle of a fight, in a fight all the time.”
Forward Filip Mezar led Slovakia with six points (two goals, four assists), including the winning goal in a 6-3 win over the United States in the preliminary round.
Picked by the Canadiens in the first round (#26) of the 2022 draft, the 19-year-old has 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists) in 17 games against Kitchener of the OHL.
“He had a really good rookie tournament,” said Ramage. “He stood out, he played like a pro, his habits were really, really good. …these are just details [in his game]. You see, this guy is very responsible for the young guy.”
Owen Beck joined Canada in the medal round after Colton Dach (Chicago Blackhawks) was injured and had one assist and an average ice time of 4:23 over three games. But Canadian coach Dennis Williams was positive about Beck’s contribution, especially after his first game, a 4-3 overtime win over Slovakia, when he played two innings, 1-41 in total, but one of them drew a penalty shoot-out.
“A lot of people can look at it and just say, ‘Oh, he played a minute,'” Williams said. “Well, that was a great minute. We needed that minute from him.”
Selected in the second round (No. 33) of the 2022 draft, the 18-year-old has 40 points (17 goals, 23 assists) in 30 games for Mississauga of the OHL.
“It’s exciting for the organization and of course for the fans in Montreal,” said Ramage of the Montreal players at the World Youth Championships. “Now they try it with guys who are with [Canadiens]but now they have a better view of a pretty big stage of what’s to come.”
OTHER TO WATCH
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. Drafted #10 by the Ducks in the 2022 draft, the 19-year-old leads the OHL defenseman and is third of all players with 51 points (14 goals, 37 assists) in 35 games, coming on Friday.
Patrick HamrlaG, Rimouski (Carolina Hurricanes): Hamrla made his first 18 saves of the season in a 4-0 win over Shawinigan on December 28. The 19-year-old scored his second goal one night later, saving 14 goals in a 9-0 win over Victoriaville. Selected by the Hurricanes in the third round (#83) of the 2021 draft, Hamrla has a 7-0-1 record with a 1.54 goal average and a .936 defense percentage in the last eight games before Friday. In 24 games this season, he has a 13-8-2 record with a 2.64 GAA and 0.889 saving percentage.
Kyle MastersD, Kamloops (Minnesota Wild): The Masters had 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) during the seven-game streak that ended Wednesday, and had at least two points in six of the seven matches. Selected by the Wild in the fourth round (#118) of the 2021 draft, the 19-year-old has 35 points (six goals, 29 assists) in 33 games starting Friday, more than double his 14 points (three goals, 11 assists) in 65 games.