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Hockey Canada announced the 41 players who have been invited to this year’s Sport Chek Selection Camp for the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship on Monday afternoon.
Of the 41 players invited, three are returning members of last year’s Team Canada squad that won silver in Buffalo after a monumental collapse in the Gold Medal Game. Those three players are Jaden Schwartz of Colorado College, Quinton Howden of the Moose Jaw Warriors and Mark Visentin of the Niagara IceDogs.
No one was surprised by those invitations, but what many were surprised at was that no invitation was extended towards Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Stuart Percy.
Percy, 18, was drafted in the first round, 25th overall by the Maple Leafs during the summer of 2011. He has just three goals in 21 games with the OHL’s Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors, but there is no reason to worry based on his 15 assists and plus-11 rating.
Many thought that Percy was a lock to be at the selection camp and some even believed that he had a solid chance at making the team.
Brian Huddle, an OHL scout for Future Considerations hockey, describes the 175-pound defenceman:
Percy’s biggest asset is a solid head on his shoulders. A calm and poised defender, Percy very rarely makes mistakes on either side of the puck. He likes to take care of his own zone first, but has crisp and accurate passes, as well as good vision offensively. He can play the role of a quarter back on the power play and has mobility as well. He shows a willingness to engage physically, but uses his positioning and active stick to break up plays.
Huddle was also quick to point out that there are things Percy must work on in order to become an every day NHLer and what may have cost him a spot on the selection camp roster:
While mobile, Percy lacks the initial explosiveness in his first strides to really take off and add that dimension to his offensive game. While he shows a lot of good things offensively, it’s never expected that he’ll be a big point producer in the NHL, either. Another solid blueliner to add to an already young and deep defence core, Percy will have to really push his way into Toronto’s top-six over the next few years. This will afford him plenty of development time, and make sure he isn’t rushed.
While prospects Gardiner and Blacker add the flash and dash and Aulie and Schenn add some boom to the back end defensively, Percy is a different type of rearguard, who should find himself useful at the NHL level.
One Leaf prospect who was invited, though, is Brad Ross.
Ross, also 18, has been tearing it up with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL this season. In 28 games, Ross has scored 16 goals and 18 assists for a total of 34 points. Making those numbers that much more impressive is that fact that he has spent 73 minutes in the penalty box.
If he does make the team, it will likely be in more of an energy role and could be a nice piece to Team Canada’s penalty killing unit if he makes the team.
Huddle also gave a scouting report on Ross:
A fierce competitor who is all too willing to rough it up. He’s a prototypical pest, who gets under opponents skin and doesn’t stop doing so. He’s mobile enough to contribute and has a wide balanced stride, which he exploits in his big hits. Dedicated to a team game; two-way play while blocking shots, throwing the body are normal and required parts of a winning team. Opens up time and space and can compliment two skilled players well.
Huddle continued on to say that Ross does need to learn to settle down a little on the ice:
Needs a lot of filling out to do to play his rough ‘N tumble hockey. Has earned a reputation for talking smack and being a somewhat ‘dirty’ player. Needs to keep emotions in check at times.
He is also very versatile in terms of where he plays in the lineup:
His offensive upside is rather limited and he’ll need to stick to the basics to compliment skilled players should he be implemented in a top line role. More of a bottom-six winger than anything, his aggressive nature will have teams mixing it up by throwing him into top-six roles at various times to add that bite. He’ll protect his teammates, which is always a great thing to have for big minutes. Expect numbers similar to that of a Steve Ott.
The 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship tournament will run from Boxing Day of this year until January 5, 2012 and will be held in Calgary and Edmonton.
Team Canada will play in a group which also consists of the United States, Finland, the Czech Republic and Denmark.
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