According to CBC Radio, Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin confirmed that the team plans to invite Alex Galchenyuk to its abbreviated training camp when (if) the lockout ends, which could impact Team USA for the World Juniors.
Here’s what Bergevin said while visiting hospitals in Montreal (Translated through Google):
Bergevin had already indicated that he would like to see Galchenyuk camp, but this time added that he intends to invite even if it means him to miss the World Junior Championships.
“I think with his start to the season, the caliber of player he is, there is a possibility he could stay in Montreal and I’d like to see and evaluate his game,” said [Bergevin].
Many NHL GMs have suggested the same about NHL prospects on World Junior rosters, even if it means pulling players out during the tournament.
Final rosters for the World Junior Championship need to be submitted to the IIHF by 11:59 p.m. local on Christmas Day. So… this is a bit of an awkward situation that will certainly impact Canada, Russia, possibly Sweden and now the U.S., should the lockout be resolved before or during the tournament.
Now of course, the lockout has to end for any of this to matter at all. The NHL is scheduled to meet with the NHLPA and federal mediators on Wednesday and for the umpteenth time, there’s some optimism a deal may get done.
Canada has already opened its selection camp, while the U.S. is set to open its own on Dec. 16 in New York.
Should the deal be completed by the NHL and NHLPA, the U.S. would lose the most likely choice for its No. 1 center and a key component of its offensive attack in Galchenyuk.
The New York Rangers have not made any statement one way or another about their plans for J.T. Miller if a deal is reached, so it is unclear if he would have been invited to training camp or not. If the U.S. lost either or both, it would be potentially crippling. There’s no way to replace that offense.
The lone NHL GM who has said he will allow his prospects compete in the World Juniors regardless of a deal between the NHL and NHLPA is Toronto’s Brian Burke, meaning Canada’s Morgan Rielly and Team USA’s Tyler Biggs will stay put no matter what.
This puts Team USA in a precarious position and may affect its decisions for the final roster. USA Hockey has invited five players to compete for four spots at center, while J.T. Miller who is likely to slot in on the wing, can play the position if need be as that is where he’s playing in the AHL (assuming he’s not recalled).
It makes sense for the Habs to recall their first pick from last year’s draft. He’s played out of his mind over the last few months in the OHL and may be ready for the challenge of the NHL. The lockout may have actually helped Galchenyuk, who probably would have been much harder pressed to make the Canadiens’ roster at the beginning of the season when he was still regaining his top shape after knee surgery last year.
You hate to see this happen, creating a huge distraction, potentially crippling teams and putting players in a tough spot, but the NHL is the pinnacle of hockey. Everything else just kind of fades to the background if this lockout ends.
The U.S. may have to plan for a just-in-case scenario where they lose Galchenyuk after the roster is submitted and being forced to go with 12 forwards. That could mean keeping a player who can play center as the 13th forward or moving guys to unnatural positions.
Needless to say, this is tricky. It’s also still hypothetical. There’s a lot to get done between now and dropping the puck on an NHL season, but it seems like this Wednesday meeting could be make or break.
Like the rest of us, World Junior GMs will be waiting on pins and needles… only sharper ones.