It's going to be a fun 2024 World Junior Championship for Nashville Predators fans to watch after the announcement that both of the team's 2023 1st Round picks have made Canada's roster.
Matthew Wood (15h overall pick) and Tanner Molendyk (24th overall pick) made the final cut to represent Canada.
Wood was pretty certain to make the final cut for Canada, but there was some doubt about Molendyk only because he wasn't a full participant at the camp due to a nagging injury that sidelined him. It speaks to the talent level of Molendyk that he still managed to be one of Canada's seven defensemen chosen.
Canada is usually the heavy favorites at every World Junior Championship, but maybe not as big of a front-runner this year, according to Cam Robinson of Elite Prospects:
This tells me that both Wood and Molendyk have a chance to really make an impact on a Canada roster that has a lot of unknowns.
Molendyk is currently in his third season in the WHL playing for the Saskatoon Blades and has 28 points, which has him primed to blaze past his previous season high.
We're going to get to see Molendyk's impressive skating and speed on the big international stage. The draft pick that allowed the Predators to select Molendyk came via the Mattias Ekholm trade.
As for Wood, he also has a lot of offensive upside thanks to an accurate and heavy shot. He's playing in his second season collegiatly with the University of Connecticut and has 12 points in 17 games. We'll likely see him somewhere in Canada's bottom six of the lineup.
Leading the way for Canada's roster will be Connor Geekie, 20222 11th overall pick by the Arizona Coyotes. Geekie is ripping apart the WHL this season with 49 points in 26 games for the Weatchee Wild of the WHL, same league as Molendyk.
There's still an outside possibility that Zach Benson, who is already playing the NHL, could be released temporarily from NHL duty and play for Canada. That would certainly be quite the development and boost Canada's chances of winning it all.
The United States and Sweden are considered the other top contenders in the tournament. It will all start on December 26 when Canada takes on Finland for their opening matchup. They are in a grouping with Finland, Sweden, Germany an Latvia.