It’s finally here! No, not Christmas! I’m talking about the World Junior Championships – the best annual hockey competition on the planet. The World Juniors offers a time for people at all levels to invest in hope. The hope that their country’s youngsters lead their nation to hockey supremacy. The hope from players that they’ll live their lifelong dream of sending their country mates into a frenzy after winning the WJC title. The hope from NHL organizations that, eventually, these young budding stars will lead their franchises into Stanley Cup contention. It’s a tournament, a short one at that, where every shift matters and that drives up the passion and importance of every single game, every single shift, every single puck touch and of course every single goal. That passion creates an atmosphere that is unmatched in most sports and it’s the sole reason why it’s my personal favourite hockey event of the year.
With that said, let’s take a look at key players participating at the 2016 World Junior Championships in Helsinki, Finland.
Outside of the Michael Dal Colle and Jakob Chychrun cuts, the process of selecting Team Canada’s entry into the 2016 World Junior Championship in Helsinki, Finland was rather quiet. Normally there always seems to be an uproar about “Player X” being released from camp.
Michael Dal Colle, New York Islanders 5th overall selection in 2014, was cut. Not surprising since the big scoring winger hasn’t found his groove after leading his Oshawa Generals to the Mastercard Memorial Cup Championship last season. Look for Dal Colle to be traded to an OHL contender once the Holiday trade freeze is lifted. It will be interesting to see if he gets rejuvenated once he lands on his new team because a change of scenery should do him good.
Jakob Chychrun (2016 NHL Draft) was released from Hockey Canada’s camp prior to the team heading overseas. It was expected that the dual-citizen (USA/Canada) was going to push for a spot on the team but that just didn’t work into Hockey Canada’s plans. Surprising? Yes, for me it was most surprising that they didn’t give the young defender a longer look and allow him to play in some meaningful games in Europe. However, Canada’s blue line is as deep as it’s ever been and it was going to be challenging for Chychrun to push out some veteran talent in the long run anyways. Jakob is a talented high end defender who’s taken huge steps this season in his defensive game and with his professionalism and maturity, he’ll bounce back just fine.
Spencer Watson, a late Los Angeles Kings selection in 2014, was one of the more surprising cuts because he was arguably the most impressive performer from the Canada-Russia Series that took place prior to selection camp. His in-your-face attack and scoring ability would’ve provided good depth scoring potential. He’s the type of player who always seems to be around the puck and opportunistic in the offensive zone.
Nick Merkley (Arizona Coyotes) is likely quite disappointed after not making Team Canada’s final roster and it’s to be expected. Similar to Spencer Watson, Merkley’s game is filled with a good balance of skill and energy but he was likely pushed out by the fact that there were some slightly better options available who could also play that style.
Now, moving onto who actually made the Canada’s roster and what they’ll bring to the team.
Brayden Point (Tampa Bay Lightning) will be Canada’s go-to offensive forward as the oldest player on the team and one of