Prospects Ramblings World Junior Preliminary Rosters

Dean Youngblood

2015-12-08

It’s all about the World Junior Championships and the recently released rosters, snubs and surprises in today’s ramblings. Controversary around USA Hockey`s announcement, Canada deals with injuries and Sweden gets the Nylander brothers. 


Tuesday, December 8th

December marks one of the busiest prospect news months of the year and the past few days have witnessed the majority of the World Junior Championship participating nations releasing their preliminary rosters stirring all kinds of debate. Lets get at it.

TEAM CANADA

Hockey Canada announced their 30-man camp roster on December 1st and while there were some omissions, none were as news-worthy as in previous years. Headlined by a strong 1997-group featuring forwards Mitch Marner (Maple Leafs), Dylan Strome (Coyotes), Lawson Crouse (Panthers), Travis Konecny (Flyers), Mitchell Stephens (Lightning), Mathew Barzal (Islanders), Anthony Beauvillier (Islanders), Nick Merkley (Coyotes) and defenders Thomas Chabot (Senators), and Noah Juulsen (Canadiens). The team is stacked with 18 year olds which is very rare for a 19-year-old tournament. Canada will lean heavily on Tampa Bay Lightning pick Brayden Point who currently sits second in WHL scoring with 43 points and only 19 games with Moose Jaw.

Toronto Maple Leafs have a lot to smile about as Mitch Marner is absolutely tearing the OHL apart after coming off of back-to-back hattricks en route to being named the OHL and CHL Player of the Week (7 goals and 11 points in three games). He’s gone nutty and is playing as well as I have ever seen him which bodes well for Canada entering the World Juniors. There will be no Connor McDavid so one of these skilled 97s will have to step up so why not bet on the OHL’s leading scorer.

Side Note: Mitch Marner will play in the NHL next year, from Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek

 

Dylan Strome is another key part of Canada’s offense as the red and white travel to Helsinki. He’s proven to be a legitimate scoring threat producing at over two-points-per-game (53 in 25) and looks to have really taken charge of a surging McDavid-less Erie Otters club.

For the second straight year, Ryan Jankowski and company opted to invite only two goaltenders – Mackenzie Blackwood (NJ Devils) and Mason McDonald (Flames). However, after Blackwood – the favourite to start – had a mental lapse and was ejected for a vicious slash (video below), Hockey Canada was forced to add Samuel Montembeault (Panthers) on Tuesday. The OHL announced that Blackwood would be suspended for eight games and as a result, the Devils prospect would miss the opening two games of WJC play.

Notable omissions from Canada’s camp:

Zach Senyshyn (Bruins) – Streaky producer but the Bruins’ 1st round selection from last season is coming off a week where he posted a four goal/five point game followed by a three-goal/four point game.

Josh Ho-Sang (Islanders) – Mentioned as a “surprise” omission but anyone paying attention knows that he was never going to get an invite by Hockey Canada after the last few seasons.

Jake DeBrusk (Bruins) – The second Boston Bruins 2015 1st rounder to make the list isn’t too surprising but he’s worth mentioning. After a 42-goal sophomore WHL season, Debrusk sits with eight goals and 23 points in 19 games.

Jeremy Lauzon (Canadiens) – Initially left off of the roster, Lauzon was added to the roster Tuesday to replace dual-citizen Jake Walman who was unfortunately injured over the weekend.  

Canada’s selection camp is as fascinating as ever and there will be a ton of difficult decisions to be made.

Top 2016 NHL Draft eligible Jakob Chychrun (Sarnia Sting, D), Pierre-Luc Dubois (Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, F) and Julien Gauthier (Val-d’Or Foreurs, F) are all legitimate contenders to make the team. Much like Lawson Crouse last year, Gauthier is a big-bodied forward capable of playing up and down the lineup. All he does is score goals and there aren’t too many weaknesses to his game, which is a reason he’s a near-lock for a Top 10 selection. My bet would be that Gauthier and Chychrun are both named to the squad. Remember, Chychrun also holds dual-citizenship and has yet to skate in an IIHF sanctioned event. If he plays for Canada then he’ll represent them moving forward so that has to be an incentive to adding an underage defender to the squad. Plus, he’s damn good.

Here’s a closer look at the draft eligible who could make the squad.

 

Overall, Canada has a slew of pivots and a surplus of lefties. It will be interesting to see who gets moved to the wing but if I had to pick a roster right now (Line combinations are just thrown together)….

 

Konecny – Strome – Marner

Dal Colle – Point – Barzal

Crouse – Merkley – Watson

Beauvillier – Stephens – Gauthier

Quenneville/Chartier

 

Hicketts Fleury

Sanheim McKeown

Dermott Juulsen

Chychrun

 

 

Several key players are coming back from injury which complicates matters (Chartier/Stephens/Sanheim).  I don’t see any of the invites that I would be confident saying “he’ll be cut for sure”.

 

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TEAM USA

The Americans announced their preliminary roster and USA Hockey never ceases to make headlines with their national teams. It’s no secret that the committee favours players competing in the National Program and following their dreams by way of the USHL then NCAA. As a result, there always seems to be a handful of top talent playing in outside leagues (CHL for example) that are left off the team. After fleeing the NCAA just a few games in, Maple Leafs prospect Jeremy Bracco – now with the Kitchener Rangers – is one of the most recognizable names. Since arriving with the high flying Rangers, Bracco has transitioned flawlessly tallying five goals and 19 points in 16 games.

Bracco isn’t happy about the snub

"It sucks," said Bracco, adding that he wasn't given any explanation about his omission.

"It doesn't really make sense to me. I thought I deserved to at least go to camp and show myself. I think they were afraid that if they took me to camp like they did last year, that I should make the team."

 

No player in the entire CHL is even close to Conor Garland’s (Coyotes) 69 points this season yet the Massachusetts’ native doesn’t even get a look? He has 50 assists in 28 games.

Kyle Connor (Jets) was also excluded from the invitations. Did his get lost in the mail? What’s the beef here? Major oversight by USA Hockey as the University of Michigan freshman has six goals and 16 points to lead the Big Ten squad in scoring. Yes, leading the team in scoring. Baffled.

Add Ohio (Miami) leading scorer Jack Roslovic (Jets), another freshman with point-per-game numbers, to the list of snubs. Amazing.

Sophomore winger Alex Tuch (Wild) and his five goals and 12 points (15 games) wasn’t good enough for an invite either.

I had a good chuckle at a tweet from Andrew Weiss of Future Considerations, “A team of US that won't be @ WJC (Eichel, Larkin, Hanifin, Connor, Roslovic, Tuch, Bracco, Garland, Fischer) might give actual US team a run”. It’s the truth

The good news is that Team USA did include OHL sniper Alex DeBrincat and his 32 goals in 28 games  to their list of invites. Here’s a good look at the 2016 NHL Draft potential first rounder as he notes Johnny Gaudreau, Tyler Johnson and Brendan Gallagher as players he likes. The kid is very small but few players have his scoring instincts..

Team USA announcement here: {youtube}hb2KAao832Q{/youtube}

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TEAM RUSSIA

The Russian roster can be found here. Ilya Samsonov (Capitals, G), Sergei Boikov (Avalanche, D), Ivan Provorov (Flyers, D), Dmitri Sergeev (Blues, D), Damir Sharipzyanov (Kings, D), Denis Guryanov (Stars, F), Vlad Kamenev (Predators, F), Kirill Kaprizov (Wild, F), Pavel Kraskovsky (Jets, F), Evgeny Svechnikov (Red Wings, F), and Yakov Trenin (Predators, F) are the household names that might ring a bell. Overall, it’s a roster that doesn’t excite me too much – especially compared to previous entries. Guryanov, Svechnikov, Provorov, Kamenev and Samsonov are the players who I’ve liked at one time or another. Sharipzyanov is a sleeper who could launch himself into fantasy keeper consideration.

TEAM SWEDEN

At a quick glance, there’s a lot to like about Sweden’s preliminary roster inclusions starting and ending with Maple Leafs William Nylander, who’ll be joined by his younger brother Alex Nylander – who’s become a personal favourite of mine for the 2016 NHL Draft. The Swedes look very deep at every position with a good amount of talented 19-year-olds which some other countries suffer in. I suspect this team surprises in Helsinki and gives the big nations a run for their money in gold.

Full roster listed here.

 

TEAM FINLAND

Selfishly, I cannot wait to watch the hosts play at the WJC. With top 2016 NHL Draft eligible Jesse Puljujaarvi and Patrik Laine slatted to star for the Finns, I am excited to see how they match up against some of the best prospects in the world. Both are locks to be Top 10 picks. Joining the big youngsters is Maple Leafs prospect Kasper Kapanen, Julius Nattinen (Ducks) – who’s been excellent with Barrie, Sebastian Aho (Hurricanes), Roope Hintz (Stars) and silky defenders Olli Juolevi (2016 NHL Draft top prospect) and Vili Saarijarvi (Red Wings).

Full roster here.

 

TEAM CZECH REPUBLIC

The Czechs will be without Jakub Vrana (Capitals) and David Pastrnak (Bruins) but this team always plays hard and will have the services of Pavel Zacha (NJ Devils, whose rolling hot and looking outstanding), Filip Chlapik (Senators), and David Kase (Flyers).

Full roster here.

 

Other rosters released include: Switzerland, Denmark and Slovakia  

 

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Mitch Marner makes hockey fans happy.

{youtube}aI-jj2BXWQM{/youtube}

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Thanks for reading,

@RossyYoungblood (Brendan Ross)

 

 

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