Canadiens: Filip Mesar Ready For Big Tournament at World Juniors

The Habs Prospect will be Looking to Lead Slovaks to a Medal

Ottawa Senators v Montreal Canadiens
Ottawa Senators v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

On Sunday, I went to see Filip Mešár and the Kitchener Rangers play in Guelph. I just missed him, as he and Team Canada hopeful Carson Rehkopf were out of the lineup, presumably on their way to their respective camps. That’s two years in a row I’ve gone to see Mešár play, and both times he was out of the lineup. I’ll be there in Sweden at the World Juniors. I’m hoping to catch him there.

And how could I not want to see Mešár play, as he’s been tearing up the OHL so far this season after a somewhat disappointing first year. The Canadiens prospect has 32 points in 20 games, a points per game of 1.60 which is seventh in the OHL. And the Rangers sit in first in the entire league with a record of 23-7-2. Mešár is hoping to bring some of that magic to Sweden.

Slovakia, a long-time participant of the tournament, has only medaled a couple of times. This year’s squad looks to be much stronger, even without NHLers Juraj Slafkovsky and Simon Nemec. Mešár is amongst several NHL prospects on a very talented Slovakia team that can definitely make some noise at this year’s tournament.

Last year, Mešár had six points in five games where his team lost to Canada in the quarter-finals. But make no mistake, that Slovakia team came dangerously close to knocking off the Canadians, falling 4-3 in overtime. And they won’t be a pushover this year, either.

Even just watching the highlights of that game –perhaps one of the best games we’ve seen at the WJC, and we’ve seen a lot of good games – Mešár makes several incredible plays, including a nifty assist on the game-tying goal. Mešár looks primed to play that way again this year for Slovakia, which would be a welcome sight for Canadiens fans – so long as he doesn’t do it against Canada.

Mešár had an excellent tournament for Slovakia last year despite having a very difficult time in the OHL. He had 51 points in 52 games and just never quite looked like the first-round pick the Canadiens drafted. This year, he’s found his game and exploded offensively. Hopefully, he takes that confidence and puts it to good use in Sweden.

At last year’s tournament, Mešár had a big role on the team, wearing an A and playing in all situations. With Nemec unlikely to be there this year, it wouldn’t be that surprising to see Mešár named captain of team Slovakia. And his role will likely be bigger as well, called upon to lead his team in any way he can. The opportunity to have a massive tournament is there for Mešár, and I'm willing to be bet he takes full advantage of it.

The World Juniors have gotten more competitive every year, it seems, even without Russia being there, which still feels a little strange (a debate for a different day). Slovakia has really pushed teams to the brink. Czechia was an overtime winner away from winning the whole thing last year, and even Switzerland has been a tough out the last few years. So, let’s hope we get more of the same this year. Especially if we get more Canadiens prospects leading the way.