After a shoulder injury interrupted his rookie campaign in North America, Washington Capitals prospect Haakon Hanelt is now dealing with another injury in his sophomore season and right before World Juniors that will cause him to miss the tournament.
Per Le Droit's JF Plante, Hanelt suffered a foot injury leading up to World Juniors and will be undergoing an MRI to assess the damage. And because of it, he will not be lacing 'em up for Team Germany, who will now be without one of their top players and No. 1 center.
Hanelt, who was the only German taken in the 2021 NHL Draft (fifth round by Washington), had also been ruled out of the 2022 World Juniors while recovering from shoulder surgery, but he ultimately got to play for his country after a COVID-19 outbreak led to the WJC being rescheduled in August. He had one goal and helped lead Germany to the quarterfinals.
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Over the last two seasons, the Capitals prospect has gotten to show what he can do at development and training camp, and he also made his NHL preseason debut last year. He is still waiting to sign his entry-level contract. To further develop and get used to the North American game, he has spent the last two seasons playing with the QMJHL's Gatineau Olympiques.
In his shortened rookie campaign, he had 10 points in 16 games. And through 28 games this year, the 19-year-old has three goals and 14 assists. He is known for his speed, vision, playmaking ability and quick hands, and he also has an underrated shot.
Hanelt is also considered to be one of the top U20 German players and was likely going to be the No. 1 center at this year's tournament. The Berlin native was one of just two NHL prospects (Julian Lutz, Arizona Coyotes) slated to represent Germany.
Despite the injury, Hanelt has been on a mission: to set himself apart and build his own legacy as another German talent with his sights set on the Capitals.
"I just try to play my own game, make my own statement. That's my biggest goal," Hanelt said. "Of course, it’s an honor if someone compares you to a really good player in the NHL or something. But honestly, I’m just trying to play my own game."
With Hanelt out, Ryan Chesley is the only Washington prospect set to compete in the tournament in Halifax. He will represent Team USA.