After missing three consecutive international tournaments due to injuries and a Covid outbreak, Washington Capitals forward prospect Haakon Hanelt finally got his shot at the rescheduled 2022 World Junior Championship. And at age 19 (he turns 20 on June 1), Hanelt should be in the mix for the upcoming 2023 World Junior Championship in December as well.
Hanelt saw action in all five games played by Team Germany in the 2022 World Junior Championship before being eliminated by Finland in the quarterfinals on Wednesday. With Hanelt’s tournament now over, it’s time to break down his play in the 46th World Junior Championship.
Hanelt, a 5’-11”, left-handed forward from Berlin, Germany, was selected by the Capitals in the fifth round (#151 overall) of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. Hanelt remains unsigned by the Capitals.
All-in-all, Hanelt had a decent tournament. He recorded a goal and an assist in five games played, and was a -2. However, it was specific parts of his game that were the most encouraging to me.
Hanelt’s skating, both speed and agility, were excellent at times in the tournament. He also demonstrated good puck awareness and puck-moving abilities, which is probably his second best attribute behind his skating. He has a good shot as well, although I didn’t see it as much in the tournament was I did last season in “The Q”.
Time and time again Hanelt demonstrated the ability to enter the zone with the puck, create space and find the open trailing man. He also seemed to navigate narrow passing lanes really well, finding ways to feed the open man. Summing all of these strengths and weaknesses, it left me wondering if maybe he would be better suited at center.
Hanelt’s skating and puck and stick work continue to be his strongest attributes. However, he still has work to do in his board battles, as he was simply blown of the puck along the boards on a number of occasions. It’s getting better, but still needs significant work.
GERMANY VS. USA (Game 1)
Hanelt and Team Germany opened the tournament against defending champion Team USA on the tournament’s first night. Hanelt started the game at left wing on the third line.
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) August 10, 2022
Team USA was much heavier, stronger and faster than Team Germany, and recorded the first 16 shots on goal before Germany would finally record their first shot on goal with five minutes remaining in the first period. USA would lead in shots 25-4 after 20 minutes.
Hanelt’s linemate center Bennett Rossmy received a five-minute game misconduct for a very questionable hit in the corner late in the first frame, which resulted in a shuffling of linemates for Hanelt, and in the end, loss of continuity for Hanelt on the third line.
Hanelt was outsized and pushed off the puck on a couple of plays along the boards, but he also demonstrated his ability to move the puck around in tight spaces, remaining calm in the middle of chaos, something I saw last season with Gatineau. If he can corral the puck, he can escape.
Hanelt would record one of Germany’s 11 shots in the game. He was a -2 in 17 shifts and 13:46 of ice time in Germany’s 5-1 loss.
GERMANY VS AUSTRIA (Game 2)
Hanelt and Team Germany were right back at it on day 2 of the tournament with the night cap game once again. Hanelt remained at left wing on the third line for their second game. He also remained on the first power play unit, half-wall (Backstrom spot) for Germany in Game 2.
Hanelt would take an illegal hit to the left knee with 14 minutes remaining in the third period and left the ice hobbling, but was able to return to the game.
Hanelt had a much better game against Austria, at least as far as creating plays and potential scoring chances, although he was held off the scoresheet in the second game.
GERMANY VS. SWITZERLAND (Game 3)
Hanelt once again start on the third line for Germany and was also on the second power play unit for Germany.
Hanelt was very prominent throughout the first two periods of the contest and just missed on a lob-pass breakaway earlier in the second period. The pass was a bit too far ahead for Hanelt to collect the puck and setup a decent shot, but the play was a great demonstration of his blazing-fast speed.
Hanelt would score his first goal of the tournament at 16:43 of the second period in Germany’s 3-2 victory over Switzerland, giving Germany a 3-1 lead heading in the second intermission.
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) August 14, 2022
Hanelt’s tally not only demonstrated his speed and shot, but also gave a glimpse at his puck handling skills and ability to move the puck up the ice. He essentially froze a Swiss defender with a hesitation move at mid-ice and skated right by.
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) August 14, 2022
This was Hanelt’s best game of the tournament. I thought his level of play was improving in each and every game to this point. (More on his game here.)
GERMANY VS. SWEDEN (Game 4)
Probably Hanelt’s least impressive game in the preliminary round, and really not a surprise, as Sweden was their toughest opponent to date. He recorded no points on two shots and 14:23 of ice time.
Hanelt still showed glimpses of his ice awareness and ability to create plays in this one, although they were fewer and further between instances.
GERMANY VS. FINLAND (QUARTERFINAL)
Hanelt had a much better showing in Germany’s quarterfinal game with Finland than he did in the final game of the preliminary round against Sweden. Unfortunately Germany would lose a tight one and be eliminated from the tournament.
Hanelt would record the primary assist in Germany’s second goal.
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) August 17, 2022
For the game, he had an assist on two shots.
Hanelt will likely take a little time off before ramping up his 2022-23 season. It hasn’t been confirmed but he will likely participate in the Capitals rookie camp coming up in September and possibly see a day or two in the Capitals main training camp.
It’s uncertain at this point where he will go from there, but at this point it’s most likely he will return to the Gatineau Olympiques for the 2022-23 season. Also, as previously mentioned, Hanelt could be a member of Team Germany for the 2023 World Juniors Tournament in December, and could see more of a leadership role (Assistant Captain).
By Jon Sorensen