WJC Notebook: Breaking down Team Canada’s deep, dangerous 2021 roster

Twenty-five players will represent Canada at the 2021 World Junior Hockey Championships in Edmonton, beginning Dec. 25.

The final cuts were made Friday morning with defencemen Donovan Sebrango, Lukas Cormier, and Ryan O’Rourke sent home. Up front, Graeme Clarke, Jamieson Rees, Adam Beckman, Mavrik Bourque, Gage Goncalves, and Samuel Poulin also missed out.

The group is extremely deep up front, with four returnees from last year in Connor McMichael, Quinton Byfield, Dylan Cozens and Dawson Mercer. Bowen Byram and Jamie Drysdale are the two returning defencemen.

An extremely versatile group, several natural centres will have to take up residence on the wing, but that adaptation process has already begun.

The team will use the next two and a half days for team bonding and the implementation of line combinations, systems play and special-teams work. Sunday, Team Canada will check into the hotel in the Edmonton bubble.

For the second straight year, Byfield will be the youngest player on the team, while the elder statesman is McMichael, who will turn 20 on Jan. 15.

Roster Breakdown

NHL: (1) Kirby Dach
NCAA: (3) Dylan Holloway, Devon Levi, Alex Newhook
QMJHL: (4) Justin Barron, Jakob Pelletier, Jordan Spence, Dawson Mercer
OHL: (8) Quinton Byfiled, Philip Tomasino, Ryan Suzuki, Connor McMichael, Jamie Drysdale, Thomas Harley, Cole Perfetti, Jack Quinn
WHL: (9) Dylan Garand, Taylor Gauthier, Bowen Byram, Kaedan Korczak, Connor Zary, Dylan Cozens, Braden Schneider, Kaiden Guhle, Peyton Krebs

By the Numbers

• There are 20 first-round picks on the roster (14 forwards, 6 defencemen)

• 11 players won gold in a controversial finish at the 2018 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup in Edmonton

• There are five right-shot defencemen on the roster (Drysdale, Barron, Schneider, Spence, Korczak)

• A total of seven players cut from last year’s team will play this year (Zary, Holloway, Perfetti, Newhook, Krebs, Harley and Schneider)

• Jack Quinn and Devon Levi are the only two players to make the team that weren’t invited to the virtual summer camp

• Jakob Pelletier was injured last year and was unable to participate

Notes

• According to Head Coach Andre Tourigny, the evaluation process was two-faceted in that there were nine days of camp on-ice, and the history of the player dating back to last season and all previous experiences in the Program of Excellence.

• Tourigny wants a team that plays fast with a ton of skill. Expect a high rate of puck possession, speedy transitioning and the defencemen consistently in the rush.

• All 25 players are eligible to play and are interchangeable on a per-game basis. The teams are allowed to dress 22 players per game and the likely quota is 13 skaters, seven defencemen and two goalies.

• The team will enter the Edmonton bubble Sunday and begin a period of self-isolation for five days before getting back on the ice.

• Cole Perfetti is the leading point-getter from last season (111 points), while Jack Quinn is the leading goal scorer (52).

• Keep an eye on Devon Levi, taken with the 212th pick in the 2020 NHL Draft by the Florida Panthers. The 2019 World Junior A Challenge MVP has been lights out wherever and whenever he’s played.

• Based on what we’ve seen in camp to date, expect Bowen Byram and Jamie Drysdale to make up the top pair, while another pairing includes Kaiden Guhle and Justin Barron. Of the forwards, it looks like the top line will be stacked with Connor McMichael, Dylan Cozens and Kirby Dach. Another trio will likely be Dylan Holloway, Alex Newhook and Jakob Pelletier.

• Shane Wright was already back on the ice in Ontario Friday… OHL beware!