Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Let's Take A Look At The Canadian WJC Team

The 2016 World Junior Ice Hockey Championship starts December 26th. If you aren't familiar, it pits (most of) the best hockey players under age 20 against each other on their national teams. It'll run for about two weeks, and we'll whittle the field down from 10 to 1. The contenders:

  • Group A: Canada, Sweden, United States, Denmark, Switzerland
  • Group B: Russia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Finland, Belarus

The past five years, the tourney was won by Russia, Sweden, the United States, Finland, and Canada. As good as Canada's teams always seem to be, the field is generally wide open. I don't see any odds yet, but that's partially because the squads were just announced. We'll get to Team USA eventually (maybe?), but let's start with America's Hat.

The biggest names from the 2015 draft will all be in attendance, with one major exclusion: Connor McDavid will not suit up for Team Canada, because (1) Brandon Manning killed him and (2) he's probably too good for this tournament. Also too good for this tournament are 2014 picks Aaron Ekblad, Sam Reinhart, Sam Bennett, Jake Virtanen, and Robby Fabbri.

But there is a bunch of young talent on this team (obviously, because it's the Canadian WJC team), and it's going to be especially interesting for Islanders, Coyotes, Panthers, Flyers, Devils, and Leafs fans. Here's the complete roster:

2014 Draft

Forwards (7)
Michael Dal Colle, Winger (Islanders #5 pick)
Brendan Perlini, Wingers (Coyotes #12 pick)
John Quenneville, Center (Devils #30 pick)
Jayce Hawryluk, Winger (Panthers #32 pick)
Brayden Point, Center (Lightning #79 pick)
Rourke Chartier, Center (Sharks #149 pick)
Spencer Watson, Winger (Kings #209 pick)

Haydn Fluery, lefty (Hurricanes #7 pick)
Travis Sanheim, lefty (Flyers #17 pick/Future Stanley Cup Finals MVP)
Roland McKeown, righty (Kings #50 pick)
Brandon Hickey, lefty (Flames #64 pick)
Jake Walman, lefty (Blues #82 pick)
Joe Hicketts, lefty (Undrafted, signed by the Red Wings)

Mason McDonald (Flames #34 pick)

2015 Draft

Forwards (8)
Dylan Strome, Center (Coyotes #3 pick)
Mitch Marner, Center/Winger (Maple Leafs #4 pick)
Lawson Crouse, Winger (Panthers #11 pick)
Mathew Barzal, Center (Islanders #16 pick)
Travis Konecny. Center/Winger (Flyers #24 pick/future Alternate Captain to Sean Couturier)
Anthony Beauvillier, Winger (Islanders #28 pick)
Nick Merkley, Winger (Coyotes #30 pick)
Mitchell Stephens, Center (Lightning #33 pick)

Thomas Chabot, lefty (Senators #17 pick)
Noah Juulsen, righty (Canadiens #26 pick)
Travis Dermott, lefty (Maple Leafs #34 pick)
Vince Dunn, lefty (Blues #56 pick)

Mackenzie Blackwood (Devils #42 pick)

2016 Prospects

Forwards (2)
Pierre-Luc Dubois, Center/Winger
Julien Gauthier, Winger

Jakob Chychrun

And some bullets for the road:

  • I'd be really interested to see a line of Islanders prospects, with Barzal centering Beauvillier and Dal Colle. 
  • Konecny and Crouse have been best friends since they were six years old. Do you think they might have a little bit of chemistry?
  • The team only have two right-handed defensemen, so clearly that's why Ryan Suter won't be lacing up his skates in Helsinki.
  • I think there's a consensus that Canada produces the top hockey talent in the world. But in the context of the World Juniors, that can sometimes be a bad thing - and that's why the last five tournaments have been won by five different countries. The Canadiens are effectively missing a whole starting lineup worth of NHL talent with McDavid, Reinhart, Bennett, Virtanen, Fabbri, and NHL All-Star Aaron Ekblad (born in 1996... puts gun in mouth). That leaves the door wide open for the rest of the world to complete, and it should be an interesting couple weeks of hockey. 

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