Canadiens: Final Thoughts on Filip Mešár's Dominant Performance at World Juniors

Canada v Slovakia: Quarterfinals - 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship
Canada v Slovakia: Quarterfinals - 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

Montreal Canadiens prospect Filip Mešár and Team Slovakia had big hopes for a successful run at the 2024 World Junior Championships. The team was coming off an overtime loss to Canada in the quarterfinals at the 2023 World Juniors and wanted to build on that this year. Unfortunately for them, they suffered the same fate, this time losing in overtime to Finland in the quarterfinals.

But it wasn’t all bad news for Mešár, as the 26th overall pick from the 2022 NHL draft definitely turned some heads with his performance. Mešár had nine points in just five games at the tournament, including some critical points in big moments for the Slovaks. As of writing this, he currently sits in 6th place in tournament scoring, with many of the players ahead of him playing in an extra game.

I got to watch Mešár’s game against the Americans on December 31st, in what was ultimately a 10-2 blowout loss. You would think that would be a disappointing game, and in some ways it was, but Mešár still impressed me. I had attempted to see Mešár play twice before, both times in Kitchener and in both instances, he was out of the lineup. So, it was nice to finally see him play. And he did play well, specifically through 40 minutes when it was just a 5-2 game. Slovakia completely fell apart in the third period.

In that game, Mešár showed what he brings at both ends of the ice, making some nice defensive plays that transitioned into offence. This included stripping Lane Hutson of the puck before setting up his teammate for a quality scoring chance. Mešár also scored his first of the tournament in this game, a nice shot on the powerplay to cut the US lead to 3-2 before things fell off the rails. For his efforts, Mešár was named player of the game for Slovakia.

And it was more of the same for Mešár the entire tournament, playing great hockey and leading his team to the quarters, where they ultimately lost. But it seemed like good things were happening whenever he was on the ice for Slovakia. Somehow, Mešár was not named one of Slovakia’s three best players for the tournament, which feels like an oversight. He was tied for the team lead in points and played a solid 200-foot game. Not having him amongst the three best players defeats the entire purpose of naming them.

Perhaps the most significant play of the tournament came in Slovakia’s last, when in the dying seconds of regulation, Mešár scored an equalizer to send the game to overtime. Of course, it was all for not, but it was still a huge moment. Not only did Mešár produce, but he did so in the biggest moments, against the best teams. There was no stat padding. He earned his points against good competition.

Mešár is a crafty player, and it’ll be interesting to see how it translates to the NHL. Obviously, in this tournament, the ice is a little bigger, so there is more space to maneuver, but he’s produced well in the OHL thus far. He’s looking like an excellent pick for the Canadiens, who need all the help they can get up front.