Projecting Team Canada’s WJC selection camp roster

Junior hockey insider Sam Cosentino joins Hockey Central to make the case for not only Quinton Byfield, but a couple other guys, leaping over consensus top pick Alex Lafreniere for first overall at next year's NHL Draft.

On December 2, Hockey Canada will announce the National U20 team’s selection camp roster for this year’s World Junior Hockey Championship.

The camp will take place in Oakville, Ont., beginning December 9 and will include two games against USports All-Stars. This year’s group is interesting in that there is no clear-cut No. 1 goalie and the fact that there are four eligible players for the roster who are all playing pro — three of whom are not playing regularly.

At first glance, this looks to be a group where the work ethic will be laid out by the older players, while the high-end skill lies with the younger players. I laid out a blueprint for my projections at the end of the CIBC Canada-Russia series, but a few things have changed since then.

Here’s my latest predictions for the selection camp roster:

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GOALIES (4)

Olivier Rodrigue (Moncton Wildcats): The Edmonton prospect is the son of a goalie coach and is a safe and steady pick. Not likely to steal games, but also not likely to lose many.

Hunter Jones (Peterborough Petes): Has presence in goal because of his size, serious demeanour and athletic ability. There is some trepidation about his shootout performance in the CIBC series (0-3) but in his career he’s won 10 of 17 shootouts (58.8 per cent).

Joel Hofer (Portland Winterhawks): Another big goalie who provides calmness to the group in front of him. Has experienced plenty of shots while with Swift Current, and plenty of of odd-man rushes with Portland. Was resilient losing the game 6 of the CIBC in a shootout, but bouncing back to win the series in shootout right after.

Nico Daws (Guelph Storm): Has led the charge for a surprising Guelph team. Plays regularly against Dale Hunter (Canada’s WJC coach) and the London Knights. Is the wildcard of the group.

DEFENCE (11)

Ty Smith (Spokane Chiefs): A returnee who will wear a letter for Canada come December 26.

Jared McIsaac (Halifax Mooseheads): Another returnee coming off injury, but should be good to go by the time camp rolls around.

Jacob Bernard-Docker (UND): Playing in all situations for one of the best programs in all of the NCAA.

Bowen Byram (Vancouver Giants): A rare blend of world-class talent and bull-like determination.

Justin Barron (Halifax Mooseheads): Will require the simplest of games to be impactful in a world junior setting.

Maxence Guenette (Val d’Or Foreurs): Doesn’t play a heavy game, but is adept at keeping plays alive in the offensive zone and defends well.

Calen Addison (Lethbridge Hurricanes): Can run a power play and his skating will be an asset on the big ice.

Thomas Harley (Mississauga Steelheads): Plays the game like he’s in a rocking chair.

Ryan Merkley (London Knights): Game has matured, all-world talent, but can he conform to the group dynamic?

Braden Schneider (Brandon Wheat Kings): Plays a more mature game than his age (18) would indicate.

Kevin Bahl (Ottawa 67’s): Defends with size and length. Will have to put the offence on the back-burner.

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FORWARDS (18)

Alexis Lafreniere (Rimouski Oceanic): Successful, but bumpy first half. Will use the world stage to prove he should be the first overall pick in June.

Ty Dellandrea (Flint Firebirds): All-around player with a dogged determination, he’ll be leaned on for all the big faceoffs.

Benoit-Olivier Groulx (Halifax Mooseheads): Anaheim prospect who can bang and crash, as well as be effective on the PK.

Aidan Dudas (Owen Sound Attack): Never-ending motor and doesn’t care where he plays or whom he plays with.

Nolan Foote (Kelowna Rockets): Another sniper who plays with some edge.

Connor McMichael (London Knights): Is a pure goal-scorer, and this is a team that’s going to need to capitalize on all its chances.

Dylan Cozens (Lethbridge Hurricanes): Size, speed and production make him a legit top-six candidate.

Liam Foudy (London Knights): His speed will be a huge asset on the big-ice.

Akil Thomas (Niagara IceDogs): Can play centre or wing and that adaptability is necessary in a short tournament.

Jakob Pelletier (Moncton Wildcats): Definition of a player who makes those around him better.

Peyton Krebs (Winnipeg Ice): A difficult injury to come back from. His games prior to the camp will be key for his confidence.

Raphael Lavoie (Halifax Mooseheads): When he plays with passion, the production follows, but he must channel that passion within the tightly-called games in IIHF play. And, he must be better without the puck.

Dawson Mercer (Drummondville Voltigeurs): Opened a lot of eyes at the CIBC Canada-Russia Series.

Alex Newhook (Boston College): Can play with pace and produce, but would likely have to play back-end minutes.

Quinton Byfield (Sudbury Wolves): Dominant in league play and that didn’t change in two games versus older, bigger, tougher Russian competition in the Canada-Russia Series.

Cole Perfetti (Saginaw Spirit): Makes those around him better, and if you get into a shootout, he’s one you want shooting.

Gabriel Fortier (Baie-Comeau Drakkar): A solid 200-foot player whose offensive numbers are down this year after playing on one of the best lines in hockey.

Serron Noel (Oshawa Generals): Can dominate games with the awesome combination of size, speed and skill. A month’s worth of consistency is imperative.

Also Eligible…

Barrett Hayton, F (Arizona Coyotes): In and out of the NHL lineup. That experience would serve him well.

Joe Veleno, F (Grand Rapids Griffins): No reason why he shouldn’t be released and be a contributing member at the WJC.

Kirby Dach, F (Chicago Blackhawks): Not likely to go to the WJC given his recent NHL play.

Noah Dobson, D (NY Islanders): Would be a major bonus for Hockey Canada if he gets released.

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