16 returning, nine joining: Examining the new players on Team Canada's WJC roster

Saint John Sea Dogs' William Dufour reacts after scoring his third goal of the game during the second period of Memorial Cup hockey action against the Shawinigan Cataractes in Saint John, N.B. (Darren Calabrese/CP)

The 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship was originally scheduled to take place this past December and January, however the event was postponed due to COVID-19, and a tournament restart was scheduled for the second week of August.

There are 16 returning members of the initial Team Canada roster but nine skaters had to be replaced either because of injuries or players focussing on upcoming NHL training camps.

Absences for Canada include Shane Wright, Cole Perfetti, Dylan Guenther, Xavier Bourgault, Jake Neighbours, Maverik Bourque, Justin Sourdiff, 2021 first-overall pick Owen Power and Team Canada’s captain Kaiden Guhle.

With the tournament beginning this week and with Canada’s tournament opener set for Wednesday against Latvia, here’s a look at the nine new members of Team Canada.

Ethan Del Mastro, D, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL): Del Mastro was added to the roster on Sunday as a late replacement for Minnesota Wild prospect Daemon Hunt who is now unable to compete due to an injury he sustained blocking a shot while practising. Del Mastro was selected in the fourth round of the 2021 NHL Draft by Chicago and had seven goals, 41 assists in 68 games with the Mississauga Steelheads in 2021-22. At 6-foot-4 and north of 200 pounds, Del Mastro is the biggest blueliner on Canada’s roster.

William Dufour, F, Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL): The New York Islanders drafted Dufour with a fifth-round pick two years ago and right-shot winger’s stock has since risen rather significantly. Following a season-and-a-half with the Drummondville Voltigeurs, Dufour was an offensive juggernaut with the Sea Dogs in 2021-22, scoring a whopping 116 points in 66 games. He led the QMJHL with 56 goals and was named the league’s MVP. The Sea Dogs captured the Memorial Cup in June and Dufour was named that tournament’s MVP after notching a tourney-best seven goals.

Tyson Foerster, F, Barrie Colts (OHL): Foerster, a 2020 first-round pick of the Flyers, has spent much of the past two seasons competing with Philadelphia’s AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley Phantoms but his 2021-22 campaign was interrupted after he underwent surgery to repair an injured shoulder. He is back to full health and should be one of Canada’s more physically intimidating forwards. Indications from Flyers development camp earlier this summer suggested the team was impressed with Foerster’s improved conditioning.

“It's a pro body now,” Mike O'Connnell, a Player Development advisor in the Flyers organization, told Bill Meltzer. “You can tell he's gained some weight. He looks stronger, he's leaned out for me. He was never heavy, but you can look at a player over the last three or four months, I see a huge difference in his physique and the way he carries himself. He's eating properly. It's very noticeable.”

Nathan Gaucher, F, Quebec Remparts (QMJHL): Gaucher joins forward Mason McTavish and defenceman Olen Zellweger as Anaheim Ducks prospects representing Canada at this year’s tournament. Gaucher was taken 22nd overall in July’s draft and at 6-foot-3 and 207 pounds he can be utilized as an effective net-front presence and should also benefit Canada’s forecheck.

Riley Kidney, F, Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL): Kidney is from Enfield and is Nova Scotia’s lone representative on this roster. Kidney could begin the tournament as one of Canada’s scratches but the 2021 second-round pick of the Canadiens is dangerous whenever the puck is on his stick.

Zack Ostapchuk, F, Vancouver Giants (WHL): Ostapchuk is another player with proven leadership skills as the captain of his junior club. His Giants coach Michael Dyck is an assistant with Canada and Giants trainer Mike Burnstein is also on staff. Ostapchuk can use his 6-foot-3 frame to shield the puck and provide some supplemental scoring. He was selected 39th overall by the Ottawa Senators in 2021 and led the Giants with 26 goals in 60 games this past season.

“Zack’s game has continuously trended up since he started with the Giants,” Giants GM Barclay Parneta told the Aldergrove Star. “He has a great sense and feel for the game. He is a tremendous skater that has established himself as a premier forward in the WHL and will be a great addition to Team Canada.”

Brennan Othmann, F, Flint Firebirds (OHL): A top prospect in the New York Rangers system, Othmann was the 16th-overall selection in the 2021 draft and has experienced success at the international level with Canada. Othmann was a member of gold-winning roster at the 2021 U18 world championships, scoring the go-ahead goal in the gold-medal game against Russia. He skated on a line with Ridly Greig and William Dufour on Sunday.

Joshua Roy, F, Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL): The fifth-round selection of the Montreal Canadiens from 2021 enjoyed a productive season in Quebec’s junior league. The skilled forward, who can play centre or wing, led the league with 119 points (51 goals, 68 assists) in 66 regular-season games and added a team-high 23 points in 11 playoff outings. He was also awarded the Paul Dumont Trophy as the QMJHL Personality of the Year, which could have a positive impact on the atmosphere around the team. Roy has been skating on Canada’s top line with Mason McTavish and Connor Bedard.

Jack Thompson, D, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL): The third-round pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning from 2020 was initially invited to December’s selection camp but was unable to participate because he was quarantined due to COVID-19. Thompson, 20, was captain of the Sudbury Wolves when he was traded to the Greyhounds earlier this year. He also has some experience playing in Sweden and at the AHL level with the Syracuse Crunch, so he can be another source of leadership both on the ice and in the room.

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