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Lafreniere, Hughes won't be released from NHL teams for world juniors

Minas Panagiotakis / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The NHL's two most recent first overall picks will not be released from their respective clubs for the upcoming world juniors.

Hockey Canada confirmed New York Rangers prospect Alexis Lafreniere will not be available, while New Jersey Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald said it's in 2019 No. 1 pick Jack Hughes' best interest to focus on his second NHL season.

"We need Jack to concentrate on the Devils," Fitzgerald told's Mike Morreale. "The silver lining for Jack (and all of our young players) during this pandemic was a lengthy opportunity to gain strength and weight to compete in the NHL when we start."

Prior to Thursday's announcement, senior vice president of Canada's national teams Scott Salmond said Lafreniere joining the club is "not out of the question."

Lafreniere dominated the event in 2020, leading Canada to a gold medal and winning tournament MVP after posting 10 points in five games. His showing helped solidify his status as the NHL's top prospect, and the Rangers won the right to select him first overall in August.

Hughes won a silver medal with the Americans in 2019. He posted 21 points over 61 games in his rookie campaign with the Devils this past season.

This year's tournament is scheduled to begin Christmas Day in Edmonton.

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