Projecting Canada’s 2012 World Junior Roster

Quinton Howden

Every year around Christmastime, hockey fans across the globe gather in front of their television screens to watch the game they love with a passion. No, they aren’t getting together to watch their favourite professional team. They’re getting together to watch the world’s top junior hockey stars battle it out in a fierce two-week competition as they search for gold.

The list came out on Monday. It’s the list that every young hockey player dreams to be on. For some, dreams were crushed (McKegg, Percy, Subban). For others, this is just the beginning.

Team Canada will only have three returning players this year. Quinton Howden, Jaden Schwartz, and Mark Visentin will be looked at as the veterans of this year’s group. Howden, who currently plays for the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL, is a Florida Panthers prospect. Schwartz is playing at Colorado College right now, and was a Blues first-rounder in 2010. He’s seen as the leading candidate for captain at the moment. You’ll probably remember Visentin from the gold medal game collapse against Russia in last years tournament. The Phoenix Coyotes prospect and current Niagara IceDog is arguably the top goalie in the OHL, and he’ll be seeking revenge in this years tournament. The starting job is his to lose, but he should start the majority of Canada’s games.

Here are some quick stats to consider when looking at Canada’s selection camp roster:

  • There are 16 players from the Western Hockey League (WHL).
  • There are 15 players from the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).
  • 32 of the 41 players have been a part of Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence.
  • In total, 16 players have never played for a national team.
  • Eight players (Bournival, Danault, Gormley, Huberdeau, Jenner, Stone, Murray, Pysyk) are currently captains of their respective teams.
  • Youngest player: Mathew Dumba (07/25/1994).
  • Oldest player: Freddie Hamilton (01/01/1992).
  • 14 of the 32 NHL drafted players were first-round NHL draft picks.
  • The Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens and Phoenix Coyotes have the most prospects at this year’s camp, with three players each.

A lot of the names on the selection camp roster might not be familiar to you, but just because they aren’t household names yet doesn’t mean they won’t be by the end of the tournament. Those who make this team will instantly become national role models, and they’ll be looked up to by nearly all young Canadian hockey players. Many players who were expected to be available for this team aren’t anymore, as they’ve made great impressions in the NHL. It’s very unlikely that more than one player will be released from their pro club to play in this tournament. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins? Not happening. Ryan Johansen? No way. Sean Couturier? Nope. Brett Connolly? Maybe. Two question marks still remain though: Erik Gudbranson and Devante Smith-Pelly. Hockey Canada is hoping that at least one of them will play for them in Alberta, and Smith-Pelly is probably their best bet. The only reason he would be released from the Ducks is likely his stats (two points in 21 games with Anaheim so far), because his game itself has been fine. Devante was a force in the summer camp, and Team Canada would love to have him, but he won’t be included on the projected roster below. It sounds like Gudbranson is likely to stay with the Panthers, but he would immediately become Canada’s top blueliner if he’s released to play in the WJC.

Mark Visentin

At a glance, it’s easy enough to determine which players are legitimate contenders, and which ones are a step below the rest. That makes it easy enough to eliminate a few players. On defence, Brenden Kichton, Joe Morrow, and Alex Petrovic aren’t likely to last very long, so we can cross them off. Up front, Phillip Di Giuseppe, Phillip Danault, and Michael Ferland can also be cancelled out. Choosing the goaltenders will probably be one of the hardest decisions to make in camp. Tyler Bunz, Louis Domingue, Visentin, and Scott Wedgewood are all top of the line goalies, and other than Visentin (he’s a lock), their performances in camp will likely decide their fate. There’s really only one spot available in the crease, and right now, Louis Domingue has the edge.

With all that in mind, here is Team Canada’s projected starting roster for the 2012 World Junior Championships:

Forwards:

                                         Jonathan Huberdeau  Mark Scheifele  Jaden Schwartz

                                                  Quinton Howden  Ryan Strome  Mark Stone

                                                  Tanner Pearson  Zack Phillips  Tyler Toffoli

                                           Freddie Hamilton  Brett Bulmer  Brendan Gallagher

Defence:

                                                        Brandon Gormley  Dougie Hamilton

                                                             Ryan Murray  Nathan Beaulieu

                                                                  Mark Pysyk  Ryan Murphy

Goaltenders:

                   Mark Visentin  Louis Domingue

With the depth of Canadian talent available for this tournament, it doesn’t seem necessary to have more than two draft eligible players on Team Canada. As a result, defencemen Cody Ceci and Mathew Dumba have been left off my projected roster. If Huberdeau’s injury prevents his availability, look for either Boone Jenner or Ryan Spooner to get the call.

Feel free to comment below with your ideas. It should be a great tournament.

David OConnor

David OConnor

David O'Connor is a managing editor with the Sunbelt Hockey Journal. His writing has been on the Los Angeles Times' website, among other places. O'Connor also does some scouting work for the local Junior B hockey club. Please feel free to contact him at davidoconnorhockey@gmail.com.
David OConnor
Wrote on how @AttackOHL's Petrus Palmu is finding a competitive edge up top that translates to the ice: http://t.co/Cjjsu3NE45. #NHLDraft - 2 weeks ago

20 Comments

  1. ryan murphy is a lot like paul coffey…the puck goes in the net when he is on the ice…which net is the only problem

    • Murphy’s an entertaining player to watch in Kitchener. His end-to-end rushes can be really fun to see, and he could really do some damage if he was on Team Canada’s powerplay.

  2. who are your 13th forward and 7th d-man?

    • Before the participation of Connolly and Smith-Pelly was confirmed, my thirteenth forward would have been Jenner or Spooner. Now that Spooner has been diagnosed with mono, and the NHLers are back, the 13th forward spot might go to someone like Freddie Hamilton or Zack Phillips.

      On defense, I see Oleksiak potentially being the 7th defenseman. It all depends on how everyone performs in camp though.

  3. What are the realistic chances of the 2 red deer rebel defensemen, Petrovic and Dumba, making it?

    • Their chances aren’t great. Dumba is a great prospect, but isn’t likely to make the team. With one draft-eligible defenseman in Ryan Murray already being considered a lock, Hockey Canada isn’t likely to have two on the team.

      Alex Petrovic doesn’t seem to have a real good chance either. Both Jamie Oleksiak and Jerome Gauthier-Leduc will likely be given more opportunities to make Team Canada than Petrovic will.

  4. Being from Sudbury and watching Sgarbossa play frequently I think he’s really got to be considered. In 62 games since coming to Sudbury hes put up 97Pts with 47 goals. The guys hands are rediculous and he’s got a nack for the net. He’s made Kuchin a PPG player and is a +21 in Sudbury playing on a mediocre at best team. I really think he should get top 6 consideration as I believe he’s more dangerous than Mark Stone who would be great on a 3rd line. And if not, atleast be considered a use as a powerplay specialist. I really like Oleksiak aswell, him and Pysyk are very very close to me. And I agree on Boone Jenner with Andrew aswell!

    • Meant Howden not Stone!

      • Well Howden’s guaranteed a spot, no question there. Sgarbossa has played great in Sudbury, but he wasn’t included on the selection camp roster, meaning his chance to impress Hockey Canada has passed. Oleksiak will really need to prove himself in camp, and if there’s one advantage he has over everyone else, it’s his size. Just ask Keith Aulie. Jenner could very well make this team as a 13th forward, and like I said in the article, if even one guy gets hurt, he’s likely the replacement.

  5. This is a quote from a Finnish poster on DobberHockey (Oct 27th):

    “Granlund’s club HIFK won’t let him go to the World Juniors this season according to Finnish newspaper HBL. They don’t want him to miss any regular season games, since the team is struggling and Granlund is obviously one of the key players in the team. Nothing official yet, but it’s sounds quite reasonable.”

    • I’ve read the article you’re referring to. It’s an article from over a month ago, was and still is just a rumor. I wouldn’t take much from this if I were you. HIFK not letting Granlund play would be ridiculous, and they certainly wouldn’t please Mikael if they didn’t allow him to play. There’s a reason it hasn’t been announced as official, and I think that’s probably because someone from HIFK said a little too much, and the media blew it out of proportion.

      • IFK will let him play. Someone speculated it would be better for Granlund not to go, so he would get some rest (IFK will only play twice during World Juniors), then the media blew it over. Granlund will play and he will most likelt form Finlands first line together with his younger brother Markus (They play on IFKs first line) and Teemu Pulkkinen (who plays on the rival Jokerits first Line).

  6. What about some NHLers like Anaheim’s Devante Smith-Pelly? Do you think there’s any chance the Ducks let him go?

    • As I mentioned above, Smith-Pelly is probably their best bet to come from the NHL. The only reason he would be released from the Ducks is likely his stats (two points in 21 games with Anaheim so far), because his game itself has been fine. Devante was a force in the summer camp, and Team Canada would love to have him. The chances are slim, and I hate to say this, but a lot of Canadian hockey fans will be wishing he plays poorly over the next couple weeks, just so he can play in the WJC.

  7. In general the best player in the tournament will be Mikael Granlund of team Finland.

    • Granlund should be a dominating force this year. I’ll be expecting a lot from him.

      • Last I heard Mikael Granlund will not be allowed to go to the tournament because his team needs him more.

        Also, where the hell is Ty Rattie?

        • Your comment on Granlund isn’t likely to be true. Granlund already has NHL ready talent, and will probably lead Finland’s forwards in Alberta. It would do HIFK no good to restrict Mikael from playing for his country.

          Ty Rattie is having a fantastic year with Portland, but right now I think Hockey Canada is more likely to choose players that are both offensively talented and reliable defensively. Rattie does have 50 points in 27 games, but his plus/minus is only 3. That’ll definetely concern Don Hay and his staff, and there are a lot of players available to Canada that could put up the same amount of points as Rattie could in the tournament.

  8. Good looking selections. The only forward I would have a gripe with would be Bulmer. I think I would rather go with Boone Jenner as the fourth-line center. You gotta think Jamie Oleksiak will be one of the top 6 blue-liners too so it will probably be between Beaulieu, Murphy and Pysyk for a spot. Murphy just might be left off.

    • Thanks Andrew. Putting Bulmer on the roster was the last decision I made, but I think his few games of NHL experience give him a slight advantage over Jenner right now. Oleksiak hasn’t played outstanding in Saginaw this season, so for him to make the team I think he’ll need to have a great camp. The way Kevin Prendergast has been talking about Ryan Murphy, it sounds like he thinks Murphy is already on the team, so he’ll be one to watch. There’s a lot of competition this year, so I’m expecting a pretty intense selection camp.

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