The first step in Team Canada’s World Junior journey began today, with Hockey Canada announcing their 30 player selection camp roster. The roster features 13 players from the OHL, 10 from the WHL, 6 from the OMJHL and 2 from the NCAA.
Kingston’s Lawson Crouse will be leading the charge as one of three returning players for the boys in red and white. Crouse had 3 points in 7 games for last year’s squad in a complementary role as a draft eligible player, but will now be asked to lead the offence after being picked 11th overall by the Florida Panthers in this past NHL draft. Don’t be surprised if he ends up being named captain.
Crouse will be joined by Kingston teammate Roland McKeown, who will hope to make what at first appears to be a weaker defence corps, at least compared to past years. Along with Niagara’s Vince Dunn and Erie’s Travis Dermott, Canada will feature the top three scoring defencemen in the OHL. Joining them on the back end is Sarnia’s Jakob Chychrun, one of three draft-eligible players to receive an invite (the others being Julien Gauthier and Pierre-Luc Dubois from the QMJHL). While Chychrun’s odds are slim, it isn’t unheard of for Canada to bring a draft eligible defenceman, with Aaron Ekblad having made the team in 2014 as a 17-year old.
Odds are London’s Mitch Marner will be a key figure for the team. Marner has been tearing up the OHL again, to the tune of 47 points in 22 games. The Leafs first rounder will look to take on a good chunk of the scoring for this year’s squad.
Another player who looks to be a key figure is Erie’s Dylan Strome. The Coyotes top prospect has been just as prolific as Marner, with a nearly identical stat-line of 47 points in 22 games for an Erie team that has been dominant.
Oshawa’s Michael Dal Colle will be motivated to make the cut. As one of the final players to be released from camp, the Islanders prospect will look to remind Hockey Canada exactly why he was a top 5 pick in the 2014 NHL draft.
Rounding out the OHL forwards at camp is Saginaw’s Mitch Stephens, Ottawa’s Travis Konecny, Kingston’s Spencer Watson and Niagara’s Brendan Perlini. Stephens and Konecny have impressed Hockey Canada in past tournaments, and both have a mix of grit and skill that can fit anywhere on the roster. Watson and Perlini are gifted scorers who can really fill the net. Perlini’s size could boost his chances, as Canada seems to be looking for a bigger team than in past years.
Manning the net for Canada will be Barrie’s Mackenzie Blackwood. The Devils prospect has been incredible this season, with a 2.39 GAA and .930 save percentage. His roster spot is assured, barring an injury, and he will compete with Mason MacDonald of the QMJHL for starting duties.
The selection camp will take place in Etobicoke, Ontario, and will include two games against teams of CIS players. The final roster will include 22 of the players brought to camp. The World Juniors begin on Boxing Day (Dec. 26) in Helsinki, Finland, with Canada taking on the United States to start the tournament.
For the full Selection Camp roster, click here