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Canada unlikely to receive NHL help for world juniors

Boston Bruins Matthew Poitras - The Canadian Press

While Team Canada left a spot open on their world juniors roster as camp ended this week, it appears unlikely the team will receive an NHL player on loan for the tournament.

TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger notes that Buffalo Sabres forward Zach Benson and Boston Bruins centre Matthew Poitras are not expected to be loaned to the team.

"It seems most likely that a CHL player will be added. Hockey Canada wants to fill out their roster by the conclusion of this weekend and have their full team ready to go by Tuesday’s game, so that will likely rule out the two NHL players that Hockey Canada has been keeping an eye on," Dreger said Thursday on Insider Trading. "Zach Benson of the Buffalo Sabres is not going, he’s too important to the Sabres team. He’s on the power play, he’s on the penalty kill, he plays with (Tage) Thompson and (Alex) Tuch, so that’s not happening. There is a bit of hope around Matt Poitras of the Boston Bruins, but he too is a key centre for the Bruins right now. He’s playing good minutes, he’s playing, basically, in the majority of their situations.

"So, less certainty around Poitras than there is around Zach Benson, so I think we can conclude it will likely be a CHL forward that’s added.”

Benson has three goals and eight points in 20 games with the Sabres this season. Selected 13th overall in the 2023 draft, Benson had 36 goals and 98 points in 60 games with the WHL's Winnipeg Ice last season.

Poitras, selected 54th overall in the 2022 draft, has five goals and 12 points in 26 games with the Bruins this season. 

Neither player was a part of Canada's roster last year at the World Juniors. 

Four other NHL players are eligible to play for Canada at the tournament, all of whom won gold last year: Chicago Blackhawks centre Connor Bedard, Columbus Blue Jackets centre Adam Fantilli, Seattle Kraken prospect Shane Wright and Blackhawks defenceman Kevin Korchinski. 

Canada has just one returnee on its 2024 roster as things stand in 19-year-old Owen Beck, who was selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the second round of the 2022 draft.