Weegar looks good in red & white
by Andrew Podnieks|18 MAY 2023
Mackenzie Weegar leads the tournament in scoring with 8 points.
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation / Matt Zambonin
When you are drafted 206th overall, you know nothing will come easy and you know not to take anything for granted. Such is the character of Canada's Mackenzie Weegar, the team’s top blueliner so far at the Men’s World Championship.

Now 29, he was drafted in that humbling position ten years ago, by Florida, the team with which he was associated his entire pro career until last summer when he was traded to Calgary in the blockbuster deal that saw Jonathan Huberdeau go to the Flames and Matthew Tkachuk to the Panthers.

The Flames came close as this past regular season drew to its conclusion, but they missed the playoffs, and Weegar became available for the Worlds.

“We were right in the thick of things towards the end in Calgary,” Weegar explained after Canada’s solid 5-1 win over Kazakhstan on Wednesday night. “I didn’t really think much of [being selected] at all, but I’m happy that they called. It was a no-brainer to come here and represent my country.”

In fact, it’s Weegar’s first time in Team Canada threads and first time playing on the big European ice as a pro. “It’s been a long time since I skated on the big ice. It’s definitely different,” he started. “The structure that we play, the 1-1-3, we try to stand up as much as we can. We don’t want guys coming with full speed down the wing. There are definitely times where there’s a lot more room. There are definitely some areas that are a lot further to get to, or longer passes, but it’s been fun, a good experience, nice change, but like I said I’m just happy that we’re 4-0.”

Weegar has been a pro his whole adult life, yet he never got the call at the junior level or, until now, the senior level. In seven NHL seasons, he made the playoffs only three times, so he’s been available. Why this year? 

“I don’t know exactly,” he admitted. “Towards the end of the season in Calgary, I felt like I was at the top of my game. I had a lot of confidence coming here. I've been given a leadership role. It's my first time representing Team Canada, so I just want to do as best I can to help this team win.”

Weegar has been doing that in spades. He started with two, three-point games, and after a quiet outing against Slovakia he had a goal and assist in the first five minutes against the Kazakhs. He later incurred a minor penalty—the only one of the game to either side, as it turned out—but he struggled to give this achievement a name. 

Goal, assist, minor, in an international game. Hmmm. “It’s not a Gordie Howe; I’m not sure what that’s called,” he laughed. No matter. Weegar now leads the entire tournament in assists (five) and scoring (eight points), including three goals. He had four goals in 81 games with Calgary this year, so something is in the Latvian water that’s making him play with more confidence and more purpose on the offense. His 20:24 ice time average is also tops on the team, so clearly coach Andre Tourigny has confidence in the Ottawa native. Oh, and he hasn’t been on ice for an even-strength goal against yet.

It’s still early, but with each game Weegar gets a little more comfortable and gains a little more international experience. Canada is off to the quarter-finals, no doubt, but after that, who knows? The way Weegar is playing, Canada has every right to think medal.