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Sending Star Prospects To World Juniors; Teams Aren’t, But They Should

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Like most things in the world nowadays, this year’s World Junior Championship is unique. Because there’s no NHL season currently taking place, many countries have access to players they would otherwise not be able to have on their rosters. Names like Alexis Lafreniere, Kaapo Kakko, Kirby Dach, Jack Hughes, and others are all eligible to play but teams are starting to hold them back.

The Golden Knights have multiple players who are expected to take part in the competition. Peyton Krebs and Kaedan Korczak seem like locks for Canada, Brendan Brisson will be on Team USA, and Marcus Kallionkieli and Lukas Cormier each could be there as well.

For Vegas, none of these players are expected to make major impacts at the NHL level, well, at least not to the level of a Hughes or Lafreniere.

But what if they did? Where would we stand?

It’s a tough decision for any NHL club, especially with the uncertainty of the upcoming season. However, with the schedule of the tournament, there’s no reason to hold these guys back from a once in a lifetime opportunity.

The World Junior tournament is slated to end on January 6th. Even those most optimistic NHL fan knows the regular season isn’t starting before then. So, these key young players would be missing the beginning of training camp and at the very least one preseason game.

In exchange, they’d be playing in competitive games on an international stage with massive expectations on their shoulders. For me, this is exactly what you want for your upcoming stars.

Personally, the benefits seem to far outweigh the drawbacks. Missing camp means very little, especially this year when many of the meetings will be conducted virtually. I’ve seen COVID used as an excuse not to send a player when really it should be an excuse to send the player. There will be no safer place than the World Junior bubble.¬†Finally, injury fears have to be put aside considering we are expecting these guys to play 60 games in four months. If we are afraid of 10 games at the junior level, how can you expect a player to survive the rigors of an NHL season?

Highly competitive games are hard to find, especially in 2020. For guys like Lafreniere and Hughes, they may not see a game as important as the ones the kids at World Juniors will see for years.

It’s an enviable situation to be in and unfortunately, the Golden Knights are not in it. If they were, I’d be strongly in favor of sending anyone eligible, even if that player was expected to have a massive impact in the NHL.

Luckily, this poor decision by the Rangers and Devils will actually benefit the Golden Knights. Krebs and Brisson will find themselves higher up the depth chart and get more minutes.

VGK And The 2021 World Junior Championships

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the NHL’s next season, there is meaningful hockey on the horizon. The 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship starts on Christmas Day and multiple Golden Knights prospects will be there participating.

The tournament is scheduled to be played inside the Edmonton bubble from December 25th to January 5th.

The Golden Knights have five players with a chance at participating.

Peyton Krebs
Canada

Krebs participated in camp with Team Canada ahead of last year’s World Juniors. Having just returned from his Achilles injury Krebs was left off the final roster that ultimately went on to win the gold medal.¬†This year, Krebs will be a focal point to the Canadian roster, likely centering one of its top two lines.

Team Canada will be stacked this year with a host of 1st round picks that will include the 2nd overall pick in this past Draft, Quinton Byfield, and may even include the #1 selection, Alexis Lafreniere as well.

No matter how it all shakes out though, this will be Golden Knights fans first chance to see the most important prospect in the VGK system play meaningful high-level competition.

Kaedan Korczak
Canada

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It would be a surprise if Korczak misses out on the final roster but his role on the team is very much in question. There are six 1st round pick defensemen that have been selected to the initial 46-man Team Canada roster. But, only two, Bowen Byram and Thomas Harley, were selected in the 2019 Draft with Korczak.

Being older and right-handed will likely give Korczak a leg up but these are still tough waters to navigate to get significant playing time on a roster brimming with talent.

Hopefully, for the Golden Knights sake, he has a strong camp in November and the claims a spot for the important group stage games in late December.

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