Yesterday, Team Canada made its final cut from its World Juniors roster, releasing Gabe Vilardi from camp. Vilardi participated in several practices, as well as skating on his own, but it appears that questions about his health and lingering back issues were too great for the Canadian team to overlook.
Vilardi missed the final game in his five-game conditioning stint in Ontario. The hope was that it was a minor setback and that he would be able to participate in World Juniors. He missed the first half of last season in the OHL, as well as last year’s World Juniors tournament, due to injury; Vilardi played his first game of the season for the Kingston Frontenacs on January 5, 2018.
His status with the Kings at this point is unclear. If his injury needs further treatment and rehab, the assumption is that Vilardi will stay on Injured Reserve.
UPDATE: Rob Blake confirmed today that Vilardi will return to the OHL and will not play for the Kings this season. Given that he’s still dealing with injury rehab, it doesn’t look like he’s expected to play any time soon. His OHL team, the Kingston Frontenacs, currently sits in last place in their division. so it’s possible we could see him traded to another team, if there’s a chance he will play again this season.
Per Rob Blake, Vilardi will return to juniors. No timetable. Needs “time to heal up.” Not eligible to return to Kings this season.
— Curtis Zupke (@curtiszupke) December 19, 2018
Meanwhile, Jaret Anderson-Dolan’s chances of making the team seemed slim as he was still working his way back from a broken wrist, sustained in just his second game back with the Spokane Chiefs. Anderson-Dolan, normally a center, has been playing on the wing in practices, which at least lessens his chances of re-injuring himself while taking any faceoffs. He’s been a full participant in practices and while his long layoff in playing may mean that he sees less minutes as he gets back up to speed, he’s still certainly capable of being a difference-maker for the team.
As earlier announced, Markus Phillips will represent Team Canada on the blue line. Goalie Matt Villalta was cut from the squad; while he was dominant last season in the OHL, he missed significant time due to a leg injury after being cut by a linesman’s skate during warmups and has struggled to return to form.
The 2019 World Junior Championships will be held between December 26 and January 5, splitting time between Vancouver and Victoria.
Pulling out a win when you least expect one is real fun. [Jewels from the Crown]
Markus Phillips talks about finding his game and how the Kings development staff have helped him along the way. [TSN]
On and off the ice, the Iafallo siblings are known as class acts all the way around. [Los Angeles Daily News]
Luc Robitaille joins the 31 Thoughts podcast to talk about his experiences as a player and executive. [Sportsnet]
Elsewhere in the World
Which GMs trade the most? When do they like making deals? [The Athletic]
Dave Hakstol’s goalies weren’t good, but that still doesn’t mean he should have kept his job. [Broad Street Hockey]
In her fourth season in the NWHL, Jillian Dempsey continues to lead on and off the ice. [NWHL]
A riveting breakdown of … Connect Four? [The Cannon]
The NWHL still is trying to figure out the best way to hold a draft. [The Ice Garden]
Selected first overall in the draft is Annie Pankowski of the University of Wisconsin:
You might know all about Team USA and Team Canada. What about Team Kazakhstan? [Eyes on the Prize]
Sean Dhooghe is 5’3” and is determined to reach the NHL. He just might do it. [Toronto Sun]
You’ve got two games to choose from tonight. The nationally televised game features the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals, always a fun rivalry to revisit. That one’s on NBCSN at 5:00 PM Pacific. You’ve heard it all from me before, so just imagine several sentences pining for Tanner Pearson here.
The other game’s also an early one for the west coast; the Montreal Canadiens visit the Colorado Avalanche, with the puck set to drop at 5:30 PM Pacific. Colorado boats the number one and two scorers in the league, Mikko Rantanen and Nate MacKinnon, so you’ll at least be sure to see them put up some points. That game can be viewed via the NHL’s streaming service.