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Why aren’t Mason McTavish, Wyatt Johnston at the 2023 World Juniors? Full list of notable omissions from event

The purpose of the World Juniors is to bring the best U20 kids from around the globe to one location for a week-and-a-half-long tournament. While there is never any shortage of star-studded talent at these games, not every high-profile player that is eligible to participate in the tournament chose to do so. 

The 2023 World Juniors are no different. As teams get set to begin the games in Moncton and Halifax this week, there are a number of names that could have played for their country, but for a variety of reasons, won’t be at the competition. 

Some countries are more affected than others. While Canada has a trio of talented forwards that could have helped out the team, they are still considered one of the favorites to win it all. On the other hand, Sweden is missing out on some key defensemen that could hurt their chances at a medal. 

MORE: 2023 World Juniors schedule, standings, results

Here is a look at the notable names that won’t be at the 2023 World Juniors. 

Notable players not participating at the 2023 World Juniors

Mason McTavish, F, Canada

While McTavish was eligible to return for a third World Juniors in 2023, it was not expected that the Ducks prospect would play this winter. He was somewhat of a surprise participant in the summer games, as most players in McTavish’s situation elected to forego the 2022 tournament and focus on NHL training camp. McTavish wanted to play for Canada and win gold, and he did just that at the 2022 World Juniors. 

The MVP from the 2022 tournament has received consistent playing time with the Ducks, averaging over 14 minutes of time on ice. In 30 contests, McTavish has 14 points for Anaheim. 

Wyatt Johnston, F, Canada

Johnston has never suited up for Canada at the World Juniors and in his last year of eligibility for the tournament, he will not be in attendance for the IIHF games. The Stars forward is staying in the NHL, as the 19-year-old has been enjoying a successful rookie campaign in Dallas with 12 points in 30 contests. 

Like McTavish and the next player on the list, Johnston wasn’t guaranteed to be loaned to Canada, but there was some buzz around him about the possibility of playing at the 2023 tournament. However, he has become a regular in the Stars lineup and with Dallas performing well, the team wanted to keep the forward with the club through the holidays. 

Cole Sillinger, F, Canada

Sillinger rounds out the U20 players in the NHL that won’t be playing for Canada. The Blue Jackets center never played in the World Juniors previously, and won’t get to, as this is the last year he is eligible to play in the tournament. 

The 19-year-old became an everyday player for the Blue Jackets last season, skating in 79 games his rookie season and producing 31 points. The production is down this year, with just five points in 28 games, and some thought he might get loaned to Team Canada to help get him right. However, Sillinger is staying with Columbus. 

MORE: Every NHL draft pick at the 2023 World Juniors

Juraj Slafkovsky, F, Slovakia

Slovakia was hurt more than any other team by their high-profile players skipping the 2022 World Juniors to focus on NHL training camps. Slafkovsky was one of those players, as the 2022 No. 1 pick joined fellow first-round picks Simon Nemec and Filip Mesar as absentees from the summer games. 

While Nemec and Mesar are in the Maritimes for Slovakia at the 2023 tournament, Slafkovsky is not. The Slovak winger has spent the entire season up in the NHL with the Canadiens, skating in 24 games and recording 10 points. His absence is a big one for Slovakia, who miss out on one of their best pure scorers. 

Simon Edvinsson, D, Sweden

Sweden will have to make do without three of their expected top defensemen at the 2023 World Juniors, the biggest omission being Edvinsson. The Red Wings 2021 first-round pick declined the invitation from Sweden to play at the tournament, electing instead to stay in the AHL with the Grand Rapids Griffins. 

Edvinsson is in his first season in North America after playing for years in his home country. The rangy defenseman has nine points in 18 games with Grand Rapids. He was a part of the Swedish team that won bronze at the 2022 World Juniors, serving as an assistant captain for the squad, and his steady presence on the blue line will be missed. 

Mattias Hävelid, D, Sweden 

Another one of Sweden’s defensemen that won’t be in the Maritimes is Hävelid. The 2022 second-round pick by the Sharks has been out most of the season with an injury. The 18-year-old has only played in two games for Linköping HC of the SHL. 

Hävelid popped off for Sweden at the 2022 U18 Worlds with 12 points in just six games but has not represented Sweden at the World Juniors. He was not a part of the 2022 team, however, he is still eligible to play in the 2024 competition. 

MORE: Top 10 NHL prospects at 2023 World Juniors

Elias Salomonsson, D, Sweden

Like Hävelid, Salomonsson is a 2022 draft pick that was anticipated to play a critical role on Sweden’s blue line. However, an injury earlier this month prevented Salomonsson from getting his first crack with the U20 team. 

Salomonsson is a 2022 second-round selection by the Jets. His development has been inconsistent, as his poor 2021-22 season resulted in him sliding out of the first round of the draft. But he’s bounced back this year and has impressed scouts, skating in 18 contests with the SHL’s Skellefteå AIK club before the injury. 

Will Smith, F, USA

There were only four 2023 draft-eligible forwards invited to USA’s selection camp. Smith was one of them and had a good chance to make the team. However, an illness kept him out of the majority of camp, and he was among the first cuts by the United States. 

Smith had an uphill battle to make the team as is, but out of any of the younger invitees, he had one of the strongest cases, as he leads the U18 national team in points and assists. While it would have been great to see the Boston College commit on Team USA, he’ll get two more cracks at the World Juniors. 

Marco Kasper, F, Austria

Austria struggled at the 2022 World Juniors without star forward Marco Kasper, and the team will once again have to navigate without the 2022 first-round pick. The Red Wings 2022 first-round pick won’t be with the team at the 2023 tournament as the Austrian Federation stated, “we want to focus on Marco in the senior national team, even if he would still be eligible to play for the U20 team due to his age.”

MORE: Connor Bedard, Adam Fantilli top 2023 draft prospects at World Juniors

It’s unclear why the country does not want him performing at both, but Austria certainly could have used his services at these World Juniors. Kasper played at the 2021 tournament, and also on Austria’s team when the 2022 tournament initially started and was subsequently canceled. 

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