Team Canada has announced their initial roster for the 2023 World Championship as they look to win gold for the second time in the last three years. This year’s roster is filled with exciting young talent that should have no problem scoring, combined with solid NHL veterans who know how to win. Here is a breakdown of the 22-man roster.
(Sammy Blais, Lawson Crouse, Adam Fantilli, Cody Glass, Peyton Krebs, Scott Laughton, Milan Lucic, Jack McBain, Jake Neighbours, Jack Quinn, Tyler Toffoli, Joe Veleno)
When looking at this Canadian forward group, one trend stands out, and that is size. No forward is shorter than 6-foot while only five of the 12 are listed below 200 pounds. Expect the Canadians to play a physical game with players like Lawson Crouse, Sammy Blais, Jack McBain and Scott Laughton, who all eclipsed 150 hits this season.
Speaking of physicality, Canada is also bringing Milan Lucic, who is one of the toughest players in the NHL. The selection is surprising as the 34-year-old has never played for Team Canada at the World Championship and is closing in on retirement, but there is no question he knows how to play physically as he sits fifth all-time in hits with 3,263 in his 1,173 career NHL games. Watch for the former Stanley Cup champion to be part of the teams’ leadership group throughout the tournament.
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As for which players will be looked upon to provide offence, look no further than Tyler Toffoli, who set a new career high with 34 goals this season. Other players that will be expected to contribute offensively include Cody Glass, Jake Neighbours, Peyton Krebs, Jack Quinn and Joe Veleno, who were all first-round picks in their respective draft years. Lastly, the projected second overall pick for the upcoming NHL Draft, Adam Fantilli, will look to solidify his draft ranking with a strong, offensively driven tournament. This year’s Hobey Baker winner recorded 65 points in 36 games at the University of Michigan this year and was part of Canada’s World Junior gold medal team this past January.
Overall, Canada has a good mix of skill and grit that should be able to match up with any other team in the tournament. While there are questions about the group’s overall speed, it should not be a major issue as long as head coach André Tourigny balances his lines properly. If they can find chemistry quickly and play as a unit, they will be hard to stop and will be one of the favourites to win gold at the tournament.
(Justin Barron, Ethan Bear, Pierre-Olivier Joseph, Jacob Middleton, Tyler Myers, Jake Walman, Mackenzie Weegar)
Canada’s defensive group is a good mixture of shutdown, physical defenders and defencemen who can transition the puck well and produce offensively. Expect MacKenzie Weegar to be the team leader in ice time, as he will be used in all situations throughout the tournament. Not far behind him should be Tyler Myers, who should see plenty of time on the penalty kill for Canada. Ethan Bear should also provide solid minutes throughout the tournament, with Justin Barron either playing as the seventh defenceman or on the left side.
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Speaking of the left side, how Canada manages their left-shot defencemen will be interesting. They don’t have a player there that can play upwards of 20 minutes a game which could force Tourigny to play someone like Bear or Barron on their opposite side. Pierre-Olivier Joseph looks like the favourite to be the Canadians’ top left-shot defenceman, but he only averaged 15:15 of ice time this season. As for Jake Walman and Jacob Middleton, both can provide strong depth minutes but may taper off if asked to play above 18 minutes per game. This will arguably be Canada’s biggest question mark heading into the tournament, as someone will need to step up and play big minutes on the left side.
(Joel Hofer, Devon Levi, Samuel Montembeault)
The goaltending position is Devon Levi’s to lose at this tournament. While Samuel Montembeault and Joel Hofer are decent, young goaltenders with bright futures, the Buffalo Sabres keeper is by far the best goaltender on the roster. He is the future when it comes to Canada’s goaltending at international competitions and will be looking to cap off a successful campaign in which he was named the NCAA’s top goaltender.
Canada Set To Once Again Capture A Medal
Based on this roster, Team Canada should be leaving Finland and Latvia with a medal. It won’t be an easy tournament as they are in a grouping with Czechia, Switzerland and Slovakia, but the expectation should be another trip to the Gold Medal Game for the fourth year in a row. The Canadians will kick off their World Championship schedule on May 12, 2023, as they face tournament hosts Latvia in what is sure to be an exciting game.