After a cancellation in December amid COVID-19, the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championships are returning to Edmonton in August, and the Washington Capitals will be represented.
The Capitals will see two prospects take the ice at Rogers Place, with Haakon Hanelt lacing ’em up for Germany and Oskar Magnusson playing for Sweden.
Hanelt has worked hard over the last few months to put himself on Washington’s radar. The 2021 fifth-round selection made his QMJHL debut this season with the Gatineau Olympiques as he transitioned from Europe to the North American game. However, he suffered a shoulder injury early on in the season, which kept him off the ice for nearly five months. That also meant that he couldn’t play in the WJC the first time around.
“It was kind of rough because of the surgery… but during that time I did a lot of skating work on it, did a lot of endurance stuff,” Hanelt said.
The German came back stronger, though, and ended up dishing two goals and eight assists in 16 regular-season games before adding two goals in the playoffs. He then took the ice for Capitals development camp in mid-July. He was among the camp’s standouts, as he showed off quick hands, offensive awareness, strength and smooth skating. That caught Team Germany’s attention, and after a small training camp, the forward made the nation’s World Juniors team.
“Feels awesome because I finally can prove what I’m capable of. Last year was tough, but I mean, it’s part of hockey,” Hanelt added.
Magnusson, meanwhile, was already on Sweden’s World Juniors roster back in December. He was even named player of the game early on in the tournament.
This past season, Magnusson made the jump to HockeyAllsvenskan, the second-highest pro hockey league in Sweden. In 41 games with AIK, he picked up five goals and six assists. The 2020 seventh-round selection also came down to Arlington, V.A. for the team’s development camp and impressed with his strong passing and playmaking ability.
When it comes to Magnusson, his biggest asset is his vision. He can read the ice well, spot passing lanes and come up with plays on the fly, all while getting to the high-danger areas. He can also win 1-on-1 battles, play with poise and help defend in his own end.
Both Hanelt, 19, and Magnusson, 20, are looking for entry-level deals. They are the only two Washington skaters playing in World Juniors. Hendrix Lapierre and Vincent Iorio were both at Team Canada’s camp back in December but didn’t make the final cut.
Germany and Sweden are both in Group B and kick off their runs on Aug. 9, with Germany taking on the United States and Sweden facing Switzerland.