Earlier Monday, Hockey Canada announced the long awaited selection camp roster of 41 Canadian hockey prospects under the age of twenty that will compete for the 22 man Team Canada roster for the upcoming 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship. From the players’ perspective, being named to the selection camp roster is just one of many steps in the long path to earning that coveted roster spot on Team Canada. Last summer, Hockey Canada invited 49 of Canada’s top prospects to participate in the annual evaluation camp that is used as a precursor for assessing potential team members. As mentioned in “Looking Inside Team Canada“, those competing in the August evaluation camp included twenty-three OHL players, thirteen QMJHL players, nine WHL players and two NCAA players. Hockey Canada has narrowed down their choices by nominating forty-one of Canada’s top prospects to the final selection camp before the tough decision is made on Team Canada’s final 2012 roster.
Hockey Canada’s latest announcement is bitter sweet for many potential players as it marked a time where dreams ended for many but also a time of excitement who received news that their journey to make Team Canada continues for another few weeks. The Ontario Hockey League has the largest representation at the selection camp as fifteen players will head to Calgary including two goaltenders, six defensemen and nine forwards. The Western Hockey League will send fourteen players featuring one goaltender, five defensemen and eight forwards. Out east, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is proud to have eight players donning the red and white in the upcoming weeks at selection camp with one goaltender, three defenders and four all-star forwards. Lastly, College Hockey is not without their representatives as two forwards compete to earn their name on a Team Canada sweater.
The 2012 World Junior Team Canada squad will certainly have its share of fresh faces as only three players return. Jaden Schwartz (Colorado College), who broke his ankle in last year’s tournament, will become a vital piece to Canada’s offense as he teams up the other returnees Quinton Howden (Moose Jaw) and Mark Visentin (Niagara) in their goal of making this team again. Unfortunately, Erik Gudbranson (Florida), Sean Couturier (Philadelphia), Ryan Johansen (Columbus), and Brett Connolly (Tampa Bay) will not be returning to the tournament as they continue on their path to become established NHL players. The Edmonton Oilers Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Anaheim’s Devante Smith-Pelly will also remain with their NHL clubs and were not named to the selection camp roster making them two players who have yet to compete in the World Junior tournament. Tyler Seguin (Boston) and Jeff Skinner (Carolina) are both eligible to play as well but have become NHL stars for their teams and will be forced to cheer on their country from the comfort of their own home.
As mentioned above, several players’ hopes and dreams were crushed this morning when they glanced through the listed names and notice their omissions. Forwards Patrick Holland (Tri-City), Greg McKegg (Erie), Lucas Lessio (Oshawa), Matt Puempel (Peterborough), Brett Ritchie (Sarnia) and Michael Sgarbossa (Sudbury) were participants at the Evaluation camp this past summer but will not make it to the selection camp. Martin Lefebvre (Quebec), Matt Petgrave (Owen Sound), Duncan Siemens (Saskatoon), Dillon Simpson (University of North Dakota) and Stuart Percy (Mississauga St.Michael’s) were among the defensive cuts.
The selection camp features a few 2012 NHL eligible prospects that have impressed early on this season and they have earned a longer look. Three ’12 defensemen in Ryan Murray (Everett), Matt Dumba (Red Deer) and Cody Ceci (Ottawa) will compete for roster spots in Calgary and the Ontario Hockey League’s leading scorer Tanner Pearson (Barrie) will continue to showcase his skills in hopes of competing against ten other nations later next month as he enters his draft year as well. Michigan’s Phil Di Guiseppe is also eligible for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
Team Canada has a wealth of talent that will be competing for rosters spots including the WHL and OHL leading scorers in Mark Stone and Tanner Pearson respectively. Team Canada’s selection camp roster will feature fourteen NHL first round picks including: Brandon Gormley (’10 PHX 13th), Quinton Howden (’10 FLA 25th), Mark Visentin (‘10, PHX 27th),Jonathan Huberdeau (’11 FLA 3rd), Ryan Strome (’11 NYI 5th), Mark Schiefele (’11 WPG 7th),Dougie Hamilton (’11 BOS 9th), Ryan Murphy (’11 CAR 12th), Jamie Oleksiak (’11 DAL 14th), Nathan Beaulieu (’11 MTL 17th), Mark McNeil (’11 CHI 18th), Joe Morrow (’11 PIT 23rd), Phillip Danault (’11 CHI 26th) and Zack Phillips (’11 MIN 28th).
One of the main storylines to follow will be the progress of the injured Jonathan Huberdeau as the Saint John Sea Dog continues to heal. Huberdeau, Florida Panthers 1st round selection in 2011 (3rd overall), was named to the selection camp roster but will not compete as his return is estimated for late December leaving his status unknown at this point in time. If Huberdeau can physically play and is receives medical clearance it’s expected that Hockey Canada will welcome the high scoring Q star.
Good luck to all those players competing in Team Canada’s Selection Camp. Full selection camp roster below:
Goaltenders: Tyler Bunz (Medicine Hat), Louis Domingue (Quebec), Mark Visentin (Niagara), Scott Wedgewood (Plymouth)
Defensemen: Nathan Beaulieu (Saint John), Cody Ceci (Ottawa), Matt Dumba (Red Deer), Jerome Gauthier-Leduc (Rimouski), Brandon Gormley (Moncton), Dougie Hamilton (Niagara), Scott Harrington (London), Brendan Kichton (Spokane), Joe Morrow (Portland), Ryan Murphy (Kitchener), Ryan Murray (Everett), Jamie Oleksiak (Saginaw), Alex Petrovic (Red Deer), Mark Pysyk (Edmonton)
Forwards: Michael Bournival (Shawinigan), Brett Bulmer (Kelowna), Phillip Danault (Victoriaville), Phillip Di Guiseppe (Michigan), Michael Ferland (Brandon), Brendan Gallagher (Vancouver), Freddie Hamilton (Niagara), Quinton Howden (Moose Jaw), Jonathan Huberdeau (Saint John), Booner Jenner (Oshawa), Mark McNeil (Prince Albert), Tanner Pearson (Barrie), Zack Phillips (Saint John), Ty Rattie (Portland), Max Reinhart (Kootenay), Brad Ross (Portland), Mark Schiefele (Barrie), Jaden Schwartz (Colorado College), Ryan Spooner (Kingston), Mark Stone (Brandon), Ryan Strome (Niagara), Christian Thomas (Oshawa), Tyler Toffoli (Ottawa)