Sharks prospect Ivan Chekhovich was left off Russia's roster for the 2019 World Junior Championships due to injury, Russia's coaching staff announced on Christmas.
Roster update: Russia trims it to 25 players. Danil Valitov, Artyom Volkov, Artyom Nikolayev, Ivan Chekhovich and Alexander Yaremchuk travel home, some due to injuries. Two more players will be cut.
All camp rosters: https://t.co/Wj0YL9NgjH— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) December 25, 2018
#sjsharks prospect Ivan Chekhovich is officially out of the WJC due to a back injury, as Team Russia U20 cuts camp roster to 25 players. Apparently two more players will be cut as the tournament is ongoing. #WorldJuniors https://t.co/AJtPaEbkS3— Russian Prospects (@RUSProspects) December 25, 2018
RUS announced a few cuts today, including SJ prospect Chekhovich. They tried waiting for him to recover from an injury but he's still hurting. They have two more cuts to make.— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) December 25, 2018
The winger, who turns 20 on Jan. 4 and is thus in his last year of eligibility for the tournament, told Russa's Sport Express he injured his back lifting weights. Chekhovich did not play in Russia's third and final exhibition game before the tournament on Sunday.
His injury is a big loss for the Russians. Chekhovich entered Wednesday as the QMJHL's seventh-leading scorer (55 points) and second in goals (29). No Russian player in Canada's three major-junior leagues has more points, goals, and assists.
The Sharks drafted Chekhovich in the seventh round in 2017, and signed him to a three-year, entry-level contract in April. He played for the AHL's San Jose Barracuda on an amateur try-out last spring, scoring nine points (three goals, six assists) in six games -- each of which the Barracuda won in order to sneak into the Calder Cup playoffs. Chekhovich was among the Sharks' first training camp cuts this fall, but scored two goals and added an assist in his lone preseason appearance.
With Chekhovich injured, American forward Sasha Chmelevski will be the Sharks' lone representative as the tournament begins Wednesday in Vancouver. Chmelevski, who has 39 points in 30 games for the OHL's Ottawa 67s this season, sparked the Barracuda alongside Chekhovich last spring. The 2017 sixth-round pick played in one preseason game for the Sharks this fall.
Former San Jose prospect Josh Norris, who was among the players traded to the Ottawa Senators in September for superstar defenseman Erik Karlsson, is also on the United States' roster. The Americans face off against Slovakia in their first game of the tournament on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. PT.