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SJHN Daily: World Juniors Begin Today for Gaudreau, Bystedt

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Credit: San Jose Sharks

The San Jose Sharks are sending two of the organization’s top prospects to the 2023 World Junior Championships.

Taking place in Halifax, Nova Scotia and Moncton, New Brunswick, the World Junior Hockey Championship showcases the top under-20 talent on an international stage. Last year the San Jose Sharks did not send top prospect William Eklund as a COVID outbreak delayed the tournament until late August, interfering with the normal offseason schedule. American Thomas Bordeleau and Swede Mattias Havelid represented San Jose at the tournament.

This year, the Sharks will send 2022 first-rounder Filip Bystedt along with 2021 third-round pick Benjamin Gaudreau. Recent second-round selections Cameron Lund and Havelid were thought to have a shot at making their teams, but unfortunately missed out. USA dismissed Lund in the late rounds of roster cuts, while Havelid has been out injured since early December.

Bystedt, the 27th-overall selection in the 2022 NHL Draft, has cooled from his hot start to his SHL season. He remains at four goals and 11 points in 26 games so far. For the Swedish junior team, Bystedt is currently a mainstay in the top-six, currently on a line full of physically imposing players. 6-foot-2 Oskar Pettersson is the shortest forward on that line.

Gaudreau, however, does not have a secure spot in the Canadian junior team’s lineup. About a year-and-a-half ago, Canada iced a tandem of Gaudreau and Thomas Milic in the under-18 championships. Gaudreau helped the team to a gold medal, and was drafted 81st by the San Jose Sharks at the following NHL Draft. This season in the Ontario Hockey League, Gaudreau sports a .868 save-percentage on a competitive Sarnia Sting team.

The San Jose Sharks goaltender will start Canada’s opening matchup against Czechia, however the team’s head coach sees the goaltending competition as ongoing.

The Sharks will be looking forward to seeing two of their best prospects compete against the top level of junior competition. The tournament begins today with Sweden facing Austria at 10:30am PST and Canada taking on Czechia at 3:30pm PST as the Sharks-adjacent games. Check out the full round-robin schedule here, elimination games begin on Jan. 2. Games will be broadcast on TSN and NHL Network.

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