Canadian winger Gabriel Vilardi out of world juniors with back injury

Forward Gabriel Vilardi will not play in the 2019 world juniors because of a back injury. (Dhiren Mahiban/CP)

VICTORIA — A nagging back injury will keep Canadian winger Gabriel Vilardi out of the world junior hockey championship.

Hockey Canada has confirmed the Los Angeles Kings prospect will not play in the tournament, Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Vancouver and Victoria, B.C.

The team had hoped Vilardi would play in one or more of the three exhibition games this week, but the decision to keep the Kingston, Ont., native off the roster was finalized after he met with doctors.

With Vilardi’s status uncertain, Canada was carrying one extra player in advance of the Dec. 25 deadline to set a 22-man roster. Though an NHL team could release a player and change things ahead of Wednesday night’s roster freeze, that possibility is believed to be a long shot.

Canada faces Switzerland in an exhibition game on Wednesday night.

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