Christopher Ralph is a hockey writer with a focus on prospects and the entry draft, as well as the Leafs’ correspondent here at THW.
As I relayed on my new blog Paint It Blackhawks,
“Team Canada’s Men’s Red and White scrimmage game was an unbelievably surreal experience. I was admittedly excitingly anticipating a game featuring an intriguing blend of youth and experience – the absolute best of the best Canada has to offer. Okay, maybe I was a little disappointed Marc “The Catalyst” Savard failed to receive an invite, but otherwise an extremely impressive collection of superstars and elite support players.
What I was not prepared for was a packed house Saddledome complete with a playoff-like atmosphere. Of course, the fans were not really cheering for or booing one squad over the other (other than the jeering of Dany Heatley and Chris Pronger whenever they were in close proximity to the puck), leading to a more relaxed environment. Those in attendance were simply applauding in appreciation of the many fantastic displays of skill shown on the ice.
Goalies stole the show in the 2-2 draw in the electric atmosphere of the Saddledome, with the Red squad taking the shootout 6-2. Each team had 12 shooters in the shootout, with all but Team Red’s Brent Burns being full-time forwards.”
I could go on and on about the various plays of the game, but I think it’s about time I zero in on how the lone Toronto Maple Leaf involved in the game performed. Of the Canadian teams, the Flames had four participants, the Sens sent two, the Canucks just one, with both the Oilers and Habs sending a combined how many players? Unbelievably – nil! The Leafs sent a grand total of one player to the Team Canada orientation camp, and he has yet to play a game for the blue and white.
Francois Beauchemin was to many a surprise invitee to the camp. Suffering a season ending ACL tear last season, it should not be forgotten the important part Beauchemin played in the Ducks Cup-winning performance in 2007. Beauchemin was the perfect complement to Scott Niedermayer that year, contributing solidly in all three zones of the rink. If he stays healthy, Leafs Nation will be quick to applaud Brian Burke’s offseason free agent signing.
During the Red and White scrimmage game, Beauchemin skated with a couple different defensive partners, including Blackhawk Duncan Keith. Beauchemin performed solidly and was definitely not out of place amongst the game’s elite. He did not stand out with any spectacular plays, but made several very good defensive plays. I would have thought, honestly, that Francois would be a fairly easy decision to leave off the finalized December roster. However, his play likely translates into yet another difficult decision for Steve Yzerman and Hockey Canada brass.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below if you’d like information on other Red and White scrimmage game performances.
Chris is THW’s senior draft/prospect analyst and a Managing Editor. Watch for “The Next Ones” Prospect Profile series, exclusive rankings, mock drafts, as well as the annual THW NHL Entry Draft Guide. Follow @ChrisRalphYQ on Twitter as he infiltrates, dissects and analyzes all happenings of hockey prospects and the NHL entry draft. Email: cralph[at]thehockeywriters[dot]com