Washington Capitals prospect Håkon Hanelt has been making a strong comeback after a limited 2021-22 campaign, and his hard work has paid off as he earned an invite to Team Germany’s training camp for the IIHF World Junior Championships in August.
The Berlin native is one of 27 players and one of 15 forwards listed on the preliminary roster. He will join the team in Edmonton for training as it prepares for the World Juniors.
The 2022 IIHF World Juniors were supposed to take place in December in Red Deer. However, a COVID-19 outbreak led to the WJC being cancelled just four days into the tournament. The IIHF then announced that it would take place in August, giving Hanelt, who was hurt in December, the opportunity to make a run for a roster spot.
Hanelt has plenty of pro experience under his belt and has played against men in his young career. In his draft year, he laced ’em up for 22 games in the DEL with the Berlin Polar Bears and dishing one goal.
The 19-year-old then made the transition to North America for his rookie QMJHL season with the Gatineau Olympiques in 2021-22. However, it didn’t go exactly according to plan. Hanelt suffered a shoulder injury and had to undergo surgery. His injury limited him to just 16 regular-season games. Still, he did just fine, registering with two goals, eight assists and a +/- of plus-3. He also had two goals in four playoff games for the Olympiques.
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The 2021 fifth-rounder is a versatile forward who can play center or wing and has even played defense, though he told WHN that he feels most comfortable at the center position. He is coming off a strong performance at Capitals development camp, where he showed off his playmaking and stickhandling, as well as his ability to go hard on the forecheck, battle for pucks, crash the net and create screens.
Hanelt remains without an entry-level contract. However, he was noticeable at camp and finally got to truly show what he can do on the ice (he wasn’t on the ice for the 2021 rookie camp and only skated once at training camp), and if he continues to maintain that level of play, he can certainly earn a deal. And ultimately, he has plenty of time, too.