Wednesday, December 4th
The annual World Junior Championship season is upon us as countries begin to name their rosters in preparation for next week’s final evaluation camp.
On Monday, Canada announced their 25-player roster and while most inclusions were not a surprise, there were a few missing personalities from the camp list. Drafted 8th and 13th respectively at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Edmonton prospect defenseman Darnell Nurse and Coyotes’ Max Domi were the most recognizable “snubs” from Team Canada. It should be noted that Brent Sutter opted to invite a much smaller number of players to the final evaluation with 25 young talents heading to Toronto starting December 12th rather than the usual 35-40 in prior years.
While mainstream media made a fuss about Max Domi being left off of the camp roster, I was not surprised one bit. Domi has disappointed in every viewing I’ve had of him showing a lackadaisical effort that consists of too many lazy turnovers. Darnell Nurse is a whole different situation as I was very shocked to see him left out considering I felt he was as close to a lock as there was for the final roster. He didn’t show well in the Subway Super Series and Sutter made that known to be one of the reasons for his exclusion but he’s been solid and has speed to burn, an skill that plays well on big international ice. To a lesser extent, Canucks prospect Brendan Gaunce (who was recently traded from Belleville to the Erie Otters in the OHL) was a surprise for many (again, not me). His lack of foot speed is a big issue regardless of how versatile he is as a player. In the end, Gaunce was a victim of Hockey Canada opting to go with a smaller final camp roster as he surely would’ve been invited in the past.
Who were the players invited to the final evaluation camp? Let’s get at it…
Of note, Nathan MacKinnon, Sean Monahan and Morgan Rielly were not loaned by their NHL teams to participate for Canada.
In net, Jake Paterson (Red Wings/Saginaw Spirit) returns from the 2013 squad and will be joined by Zach Fucale (Canadiens/Halifax Moosehead) who is the reigning Memorial Cup winning netminder. The starters position will be up for grabs when camp opens but as of now I (my opinion) would give the nod to Paterson, who should’ve started last year. I found it odd that Canada didn’t name a third goaltender. If one is to be named later, I would expect Eric Comrie (Jets/Tri-City Americans) or Matt Murray (Penguins/Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) to get the call.
Up front, Canada will have plenty of tough decisions when having to narrow down their rosters but I would be shocked if Connor McDavid (2015/Erie Otters), Scott Laughton (Flyers/Oshawa Generals), Bo Horvat (Canucks/London Knights), Anthony Mantha (Red Wings/Val d’or Foreurs), Curtis Lazar (Senators/Edmonton OilKings) and Jonathan Drouin (Lightning/Halifax Mooseheads) aren’t locked in. Yes, Connor McDavid MUST be on this team despite the fact that he would be the first double-underage player make the squad since Sidney Crosby.
Frederik Gauthier (Maple Leafs/Rimouski Oceanic), Charles Hudon (Canadiens/Chicoutimi), Kerby Rychel (Blue Jackets/Guelph Storm) and Nic Petan (Jets/Portland Winterhawks) appear to be pretty safe bets too. Josh Anderson (Blue Jackets/London Knights), Taylor Leier (Flyers/Portland Winterhawks) and Felix Girard (Predators/Baie-Comeau) had impressive showings at the SUBWAY Super Series earning an extended look and I would be surprised if Anderson doesn’t make it. He’s very versatile and brings an energetic physical game that can be trusted. Hunter Shinkaruk (Canucks/Medicine Hat Tigers), who has battled injuries, and Sam Reinhart (2014/Kootenay Ice) round out the forwards and both would add an offensive element to the lineup as well as incredible work ethics.
While the Toronto Maple Leafs decided not to loan Morgan Rielly (a disappointing decision) to Team Canada, the red and white will look to Mathew Dumba (Wild) who was loaned by the Minnesota