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 Wild and Griffin Reinhart (Islanders/Edmonton Oil Kings). With Dumba and Reinhart both come with big question marks. Canada may need to make some last minute changes if an injury strikes the Wild’s lineup and Dumba is called back to help his Minnesota team. As well, Griffin Reinhart will carry over a 3-game suspension from the 2013 WJC and will need to miss the first three games as a result. It will be interesting to see if Canada selects Reinhart even though he will miss half of the round-robin games. He would be eligible to return vs. USA on New Year`s Eve.
Look for Adam Pelech (Islanders/Erie Otters), Chris Bigras (Avalanche/Owen Sound Attack), Aaron Ekblad (2014/Barrie Colts), Damon Severson (Devils/Kelowna Rockets), Josh Morrissey (Jets/Prince Albert Raiders) and Derrick Pouliot (Penguins/Portland Winterhawks) to challenge Dumba and Reinhart for one of the seven defence slots.
Only three players from the 2013 WJC Team Canada Roster are returning with Griffin Reinhart, Jonathan Drouin and Jake Paterson being the key veterans.
Just for fun, using the players listed to the final evaluation camp, my Team Canada would resemble something like this (line combinations aren’t set in stone by any means)…
Drouin – Laughton – Mantha
Hudon – Horvat – Lazar
Petan – McDavid – S. Reinhart
Rychel – Gauthier – Anderson
Bigras – Ekblad
Morrissey – Dumba
G. Reinhart – Severson
Check out this great piece by TSN’s Matt Cade on “The Shift” reflecting on Jonathan Drouin’s amazing shift last season.
Team USA released their 26-player camp roster Wednesday morning and they look especially strong in net and on defence. The camp will commence December 15th in Minneapolis. Notable
With two towers as options in the blue paint, Anthony Stolarz (Flyers/London Knights) and Jon Gillies (Flames/Providence) will make it difficult for opposing nations to break the twice. Draft eligible Thatcher Demko (2014/Boston College) will likely serve as third string.
On defence there will be plenty of competition with Will Butcher (Avalance/University of Denver), Connor Carrick (Capitals/Hershey Bears), Tony DeAngelo (2014/Sarnia Sting), Matt Grzelyck (Bruins/Boston University), Ian McCoshen (Panthers/Boston College), Brett Pesce (Hurricanes/New Hampshire), Steve Santini (Devils/Boston College) and Brady Skjei (Rangers/University of Minnesota) all vying for spots.
Big omission here is …
<blockquote lang=”en”><p>CGY also informed USA Hockey that defenceman Pat Sieloff, currently sidelined on AHL Abbotsford, is not being loaned to Team USA for WJC.</p>— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) <a href=”https://twitter.com/TSNBobMcKenzie/statuses/407978263001067520″>December 3, 2013</a></blockquote>
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Sieloff has been battling injury.
Expert on USA Hockey, Chris Peters weighs in with his quick thoughts:
Anthony DeAngelo is on the roster and that can quash any CHL bias thoughts you had. He’s leading the OHL’s defensemen in scoring. He’ll still have to battle it out for a position, I think, just because they have a few similar guys. DeAngelo has had a bit of a weird past with USA Hockey dating back to some of the summer select teams he played on, but water under the bridge. The way he’s played in Sarnia this year made him impossible to leave off anyway.
The U.S. will have to make one cut on defense as they’ve brought eight with them to camp. Look for the big battle for the last spot to be between Anthony DeAngelo and Will Butcher. Both are good puck-movers and are very similar. Butcher beat DeAngelo out in summer camp as the latter was sent home early. It should be an interesting matchup again.
Forwards at camp include: Riley Barber (Capitals/Miami University), J.T. Compher (Rangers/University of Michigan), Andrew Copp (Jets/University of Michigan),Tommy DiPauli (Capitals/University of Notre Dame), Jack Eichel (2015/USNTDP), Adam Erne (Lightning/Quebec Remparts), Hudson Fasching (Kings/University of Minnesota), Ryan Fitzgerald (Bruins/Boston College), Ryan Hartman (Blackhawks/Plymouth Whalers), Nic Kerdiles (Ducks/University of Wisconsin), Stefan Matteau (Devils/Albany Devils), Tyler Motte (Blackhawks/University of Michigan), Dan O’Regan (Sharks/Boston University), Henrik Samuelsson (Coyotes/Edmonton Oil Kings), Quentin Shore (Senators/University of Denver)
USA’s camp roster looks very strong with both skill and strength in their forward group. It’s early but this squad is going to be difficult to beat as they wear down their opponents. It’s worth noting that Canadiens’ 1st round selection in 2013, Michael McCarron, was left off the invite list. He hasn’t impressed me much with the London Knights this season. McCarron has had a few impact shifts but he still needs to develop that consistency that often takes several years for big power forwards to perfect.
More dialogue from Chris Peters…
Eichel has been tearing it up at the NTDP and I would not be surprised to see him in a prominent offensive role. He’s the most skilled center the U.S. has in camp and that may make things tougher for a guy like Danny O’Regan to stay in the mix for a top-six center spot. He’s not eligible until the 2015 draft, but he’s a guy you should definitely keep you eye on.
Eichel is a player that I have not watched a lot of and I certainly look forward to seeing him suit up with the Americans…assuming their coaching staff feels the same way.
Fitzgerald has had a terrific freshman campaign. It helps that BC assistant Greg Brown is on staff for Team USA as well. He obviously knows what the young Bruins prospect can do.
I think Peters is spot on here with Ryan Fitzgerald and feel he could really make his name known with a big showing. He’s a difficult player to play against and brings a ton of energy so I expect Americans (and supporting fans) to fall in love with this Bruins prospect.
Something to watch for here as Coyotes’ prospect Henrik Samuelsson may be playing with a little more jump in his “home” country…
Henrik Samuelsson has had two years of bad summer camps, but he has been very good in WHL play. I like the idea of bringing him to this camp. He could potentially fill in on one of the wings and be a more rugged forward. I don’t know that he’ll make the final roster without playing very well in camp, but they’re giving him a chance. Samuelsson is also a dual U.S.-Swedish citizen, so you know it would mean a lot to play in this tournament in particular.
I was hoping that Sonny Milano (a top 2014 NHL Draft prospect) and Cole Cassels (Canucks prospect) would have earned a tryout at USA’s final evaluation camp but we can’t please everyone.
Lightning prospect goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy and projected 2014 NHL Draft first rounder Ivan Barbashev were two of the Russians invited to Russia’s 29-man World Junior Camp. While Vasilevskiy’s job as starter is probably safe, it’s worth noting that Ivan Nalimov was absolutely amazing throughout the Subway Super Series and provides goaltending depth at the very least. He was brilliant!
Other notable Russian prospects included were: Anton Slepyshev (Oilers), Nikita Zadorov (Sabres/London Knights), Pavel Buchnevich (Rangers), Valentin Zykov (Kings/Baie-Comeau), Bogdan Yakimov (Oilers)
Plenty of controversy surrounding several big name Russians who were excluded from camp including Sergey Tolchinsky (Hurricanes/Soo Greyhounds), Nikolay Goldobin (2014/Sarnia Sting), Daniil Zharkov (Oilers) and Mikhail Grigorenko (Sabres). Specifically, leaving Tolchinsky, Goldobin and Grigorenko off their camp invites is shocking considering their elite level offensive abilities. Furthermore, Vladimir Tkachev was arguably Russia’s top player throughout the Subway Super Series and was snubbed as well. Tkachev is an undersized skilled forward who works his a$$ off and every scout I talked to loved this kid.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>The <a href=”https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Sabres&src=hash”>#Sabres</a> have nothing to announce in regards to Mikhail Grigorenko and the world junior championship.</p>— Bill Hoppe (@BillHoppeNHL) <a href=”https://twitter.com/BillHoppeNHL/statuses/408356897721315328″>December 4, 2013</a></blockquote>
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THURSDAY MORNING UPDATE: Mikhail Grigorenko is expected to be loaned to participate in the World Junior Championships with Russia. This can only be a good thing considering he remains in limbo as to where he will play for the remainder of the season.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p><a href=”https://twitter.com/search?q=%23teamRussia&src=hash”>#teamRussia</a> U20 GM told Rsport that <a href=”https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Sabres&src=hash”>#Sabres</a> released Mikhail Grigorenko to play at <a href=”https://twitter.com/search?q=%23WJC&src=hash”>#WJC</a>. Lafontaine said it would be useful for Grigo</p>— Igor Eronko (@IgorEronko) <a href=”https://twitter.com/IgorEronko/statuses/408576934436540417″>December 5, 201