William Eklund will not play for Sweden in the World Junior Championships in August.
This is a surprising twist, after Eklund was named to Sweden’s roster in early June. The top San Jose Sharks prospect followed that up at the end of the month by confirming his participation on the Locked On Sharks podcast.
The Sharks’ 2021 first-round pick, however, has changed his tune.
“I made the decision after a meeting with the Sharks. I feel that I need time to prepare in the best way possible before training camp in September. My goal is to take a spot in the NHL,” Eklund told Aftonbladet. “The World Juniors are not at an ideal time and this decision is the best for my development. It’s a very tough and difficult decision to make. It sucks.”
Eklund’s agent Todd Diamond added that this decision was ultimately the player’s, texting San Jose Hockey Now: “After dev camp, William understood that with the month needed for WJC, he wouldn’t be prepared to compete for [an] NHL roster spot.”
2022 Minnesota Wild first-round pick Liam Öhgren will take Eklund’s spot. Sharks’ 2022 second-round pick Mattias Havelid will also represent Sweden.
The 2022 World Junior Championships are set to begin on Aug. 9 in Edmonton. It’s a reboot of the January tournament, which Eklund participated in, that was canceled after four days because of COVID-19 concerns.
We saw Eklund just last week at San Jose Sharks development camp. The 5-foot-10 winger was looking thicker, saying that he had added seven pounds of muscle.
At the time, he didn’t betray any second thoughts about playing for Team Sweden next month.
Eklund returned to Sweden after development camp and is training there. He isn’t the only San Jose Sharks’ possibility for World Juniors though.
Thomas Bordeleau, 2020 second-round pick, and Cam Lund, 2022 second-round pick, are hoping to represent Team USA. Both were invited to USA Hockey’s National Junior Evaluation Camp, beginning on Jul. 24 in Plymouth, MI. Team USA will name its team on Aug. 3 and Bordeleau is expected to be selected.
Ben Gaudreau, 2021 third-round pick, Mason Beaupit, 2022 fourth-round pick, and Gannon Laroque, 2021 fourth-round pick, were invited to Team Canada’s National Junior Team Summer Camp, set to commence on Jul. 23, which will help decide the team. Laroque, however, cannot attend because of injury.
Special thanks to Rasmus Kågström of Hockeysverige for his translation help.
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