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:
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.
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.
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.
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.