On Monday, the first of December 2014, the Canadian World Junior selection camp roster was officially announced.
Based on the players announced, it appears that this years Canadian team will have a very strong chance of returning to the glory it enjoyed from 2005 to 2009, in which Canada won five straight World Junior Hockey Championships.
In recent years, Canada has struggled mightily at the annual tournament, placing third in 2012, fourth in 2013 and fourth again in 2014. As a result, it goes without saying that Canada’s program of hockey excellence has been anything but in these past years.
To start, here is this year’s selection camp roster: (NHL Team in BOLD)
Brayden Point (Moose Jaw Warriors) TBL
Connor McDavid (Erie Otters)
Michael Dal Colle (Oshawa Generals) NYI
Robby Fabbri (Guelph Storm) STL
Sam Reinhart (Kootenay Ice) BUF
Jake Virtanen (Calgary Hitmen) VAN
Max Domi (London Nights) ARI
Remi Elie (Belleville Bulls) DAL
Nick Ritchie (Peterborough Petes) ANA
Nic Petan (Portland Winterhawks) WIN
Frederik Gauthier (Rimouski Oceanic) TOR
Nicholas Baptiste (Erie Otters) BUF
Nick Paul (North Bay Battalion) OTT
Morgan Klimchuk (Regina Pats) CAL
Lawson Crouse (Kingston Frontenacs)
Jason Dickinson (Guelph Storm) DAL
Rourke Chartier (Kelowna Rockets) SJS
Once again, New York Islanders prospect Josh Ho-Sang was left off of the Canadian selection camp roster. Ho-Sang, currently playing with the Niagara Ice Dogs, has been plagued by immaturity during his Canadian Hockey League career, a factor which likely played a large role in this decision. He was also left off the roster in 2013.
Many Questions Remain to be Answered
There is a plethora of questions surrounding the forwards for this years team. Most importantly, who will be available to play for the team, as quite a few potential players are either injured or are currently playing in the NHL.
When discussing injuries to forwards, obviously Connor McDavid is the number one concern. Injured in a fight, McDavid is hopeful to return just as the tournament begins. If healthy, McDavid would have the ability significantly improve Canada’s chances at the tournament.
Major forwards could also be added to the team depending on their availability. Curtis Lazar and Anthony Duclair are likely possibilities, while Bo Horvat and Jonathan Drouin are seen as longshots. Lazar is currently playing with the Ottawa Senators on a nightly basis yet could be made available to team Canada. Duclair is also playing a consistent NHL shift with the New York Rangers and has had success due to his size and speed. Horvat has had early success with the Canucks, who may choose to keep him in Vancouver to further his development. Drouin hasn’t had the offensive breakout many (including myself) had predicted, yet he has been a valuable player in Tampa Bay and continues to learn the NHL game.
Darnell Nurse (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) EDM
Josh Morrissey (Prince Albert Raiders) WIN
Haydn Fleury (Red Deer Rebels) CAR
Madison Bowey (Kelowna Rockets) WASH
Chris Bigras (Owen Sound Attack) COL
Shea Theodore (Seattle Thunderbirds) ANA
Samuel Morin (Rimouski Oceanic) PHI
Travis Sanheim (Calgary Hitmen) PHI
Joe Hicketts (Victoria Royals)
Dillon Heatherington (Swift Current Broncos) CBJ
The defense on this years team looks to be one of the strongest in recent memory. The first seven defensemen listed above are incredibly strong and talented players who all deserve a spot on the team. While those others selected have all proven their worth and will make a strong push to make the team out of camp. All in all, the defense looks very strong, and it will have to be as it appears first overall pick Aaron Ekblad will not be released by the Florida Panthers, as he has simply been too good at the NHL level.
Zachary Fucale (Halifax Mooseheads) MON
Eric Comrie (Tri-City Americans) WIN
Zachary Fucale returns to team Canada this year as the starting goalie, however don’t be surprised if Eric Comrie outplays Fucale for the starting role. Canadian goaltending has been anything but reliable in the past few years, meaning that the opportunity for Comrie to takeover will most likely present itself. Fucale hasn’t played well so far this season in Halifax, currently boasting a 3.35 GAA and .886 Save Percentage. The Mooseheads sit at .500 on the season, and haven’t been the same since the departures of Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin. Meanwhile, Eric Comrie has been great for Tri-City this season. The Americans are currently 15-12, largely in part to Comrie, who has a 2.40 GAA and a .924 Save Percentage in 22 games.
As a result, it would be a safe bet to expect a healthy goaltending battle between Fucale and Comrie prior to and during the 2015 World Junior Hockey Championship.