With the world juniors fast approaching, there are still some crucial decisions to be made for Hockey Canada before the tournament starts.
From potential NHLers joining to fold to some surprise candidates, the door is still open for a few players to crack the roster.
Wait for Me, or Don’t
The door hasn’t been entirely closed on NHLers Seth Jarvis of Carolina and Cole Sillinger of Columbus in terms of their participation in the world juniors.
Jarvis has played 17 games going into Thursday night. He’s put up four goals and six assists for 10 points, including a current three-game point streak. All told, he is averaging 13:38 of ice time per game. But there is no doubt general manager Don Waddell has a great appreciation for the world junior experience.
As for Sillinger, the numbers are similar. Through 24 games, he’s scored five goals and added five assists. Recently demoted to the third line, Sillinger was moved to centre Gus Nyqvist and Justin Danforth, while averaging 13:58 per game.
Keep in mind, while both have surpassed the 10-game threshold for igniting their entry-level contracts, the more important threshold for teams is the 40-game mark, where, if that is achieved, will move the goal posts towards unrestricted free agency.
The drop-dead date for these players to appear is Dec. 15.
Hockey Canada will name a 25-man roster on Dec. 12 before ascending on to Banff for the rest of camp before entering the world-junior bubble.
Players will be notified that should one or both players be released, one or two players on the existing roster will be cut.
Two relatively unknown players will attempt to make Canada’s world junior team. Halifax’s Elliot Desnoyers, who has 36 points in 23 games, is a tireless worker with a solid all-around game. He’s a fifth-round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers from the 2020 draft. Don’t be surprised if he makes the final 25-man roster.
UConn’s Ryan Tverberg is the other. His game is not pretty, but highly effective. He plays hard, he plays with pace, he plays a simple, mistake-free style of game, and is perfectly suited to play for Dave Cameron down in the lineup. Tverberg was selected with the 213th pick, by Toronto, fifth from last in the 2020 draft.
Perreault was invited to Canada’s summer camp, but declined the invitation in order to play for the U.S. His younger brother Gabe is in his first year in the program and will be in first-round consideration for the 2023 NHL Draft.
In the meantime, due to the pandemic, papers filed to allow Jacob to play for the U.S. could not be approved in-time for his inclusion. Essentially, he went from two suitors to none.
While his game does have a few warts, he can really score, and that one coveted skill would be an asset for any world junior team.
You have to feel sorry for the young man, because I believe he would’ve been a serious top-six contender or power-play specialist for either country.
Unfortunately, he will miss out on the world juniors as he’s in his last year of eligibility.
Perreault has taken it well and continues to put up points in AHL San Diego, where’s he’s tied for the team lead with 15 points.
Sign Me Up
North Bay’s Brandon Coe signed his entry-level contract with the San Jose Sharks on Dec. 6. A fourth-round pick of the Sharks in the 2020 draft, the six-foot-four right winger leads the OHL with 46 points through 24 games played ahead of Thursday night. With the OHL on shutdown last year, Coe had the opportunity to play with the San Jose Barracudas in the AHL, where he put up five points in 17 games played.
Of note, after starting the season 18-1-1-1, the Everett Silvertips have lost back-to-back games. Head coach Dennis Williams will work as an assistant to Dave Cameron for Canada at the world juniors and deserves a boatload of credit for Everett’s success.
He continues to produce top-notch NHL talent, while playing a pro-style system that has the Silvertips as a perennial contender. Not easy to do in the CHL. Williams added the duties of GM to his title this off-season, when Everett’s upper management moved on from longtime WHL executive Garry Davidson.
Already the highest scoring team in the league by a large margin, the Winnipeg Ice acquired Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Jack Finley from the Spokane Chiefs. The six-foot-six, 223-pound right-shot centre will be a huge asset, especially in the faceoff department, where he has won 60 per cent of his draws.
The move comes five days after Eastern Conference foe Edmonton acquired Montreal first-rounder Kaiden Guhle to shore up their back end. It was Guhle’s power-play marker past the midway mark of the third period that gave the Oil Kings a 3-2 win in Winnipeg Wednesday night. Finley did not play for the Ice. World junior goalie and Detroit first-rounder Sebastian Cossa stopped 25 of 27 shots for the win.
Back in September, I ran into Saint John GM Trevor Georgie. The Sea Dogs are hosting the 2022 Memorial Cup and are looking to become the first host team to hoist the coveted trophy since the 2017 Windsor Spitfires. Ironically, that’s also the last time Saint John participated in the Memorial Cup as the QMJHL representative.
The Sea Dogs finished 48-14-5-1 under Danny Flynn and allowed the second-fewest goals (180/2.63) in the league. The D-corps featured NHL draftees Thomas Chabot, Simon Bourque, Jakub Zboril, Luke Green and three others in Chase Stewart, Bailey Webster and Oliver Felixson. The four NHL draftees were known for their production, while the three others were considered stay-at-home types.
The key thread amongst the group was defensive specialist and coach Paul Boutilier. In his days as a player, Boutilier ripped up the QMJHL with 138 points in 151 games over three years. He was named QMJHL Defenceman of the Year in 1982, played with Sherbrooke in the Memorial Cup, won gold at the world juniors and a Stanley Cup with the New York Islanders in 1983. Boutilier was re-hired and is working with and mentoring Saint John’s defencemen once again.
Boutilier worked one year as a development coach in Nashville and two years as an assistant coach in AHL Belleville before returning to the Sea Dogs this year. Currently, Saint John sits 10th in the league for goals allowed at 3.38 per game. The Sea Dogs feature NHL draftees Jeremie Poirier and William Villeneuve who carry the offence from the back. The rest of the group includes Charlie DesRoches, Christopher Inniss, Nathan Drapeau and Vincent Despont.