Canada enters the 2020 rendition of the World Junior Hockey Championships after a disappointing sixth-place finish on home soil. The team must now attempt to win their first Gold medal on European soil since 2008. They do so by bringing five returning players and the consensus top two selections in the ultra-exciting 2020 crop. However, their poor finish a year ago has led to them landing in the “Pool of Death” along with Russia, the USA, Czech Republic and Germany. It will a slugfest.
Do they have the horses to take the podium in Ostrava and Třinec?
Upfront, the team can hang with the best of the best at this event. But just as they do every year, Canada finds a way to micro-manage their roster. The left very real offensive talent behind in Colorado first-rounder, Alex Newhook and 2020-eligible, Cole Perfetti. Both players will feature prominently on the 2021 team but will be left watching the games just as we are this year.
The top line
Long considered the top prospect for the upcoming draft, Alexis Lafreniere returns as a second-year member of the team and will skate on the left side of Joe Veleno and Nolan Foote to begin the event. This trio brings speed, skill, and jam to the rink. Lafreniere and Veleno will thrive in a transition game while Foote will bring the meat.
The All-Centre Line
The second line features three centres and they’re all very good. 17-year-old Quinton Byfield will skate on the left side. Barrett Hayton – fresh off of a private jet from the Arizona Coyotes will play the true position, and Buffalo Sabres prospect, Dylan Cozens rounds out the right side.
Call me crazy, but this line has all the ingredients to be the dominant line for the Red and White. All three have size, speed and skill and can beat you in any number of ways. The opposition will have migraines as they attempt to match up with the unique abilities of the unit.
Now to watch the world fall in love with Byfield.