NHL Prospect Notebook: Thoughts on Team Canada's WJC roster

Shane Wright, left, and Mason McTavish skate during a practice at the Canadian World Junior Hockey Championships selection camp in Calgary. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)

On Sunday, Hockey Canada announced the 25-man roster that will participate in the world juniors beginning Boxing Day in Edmonton. After a short camp, which included a couple of games against USports stars from Alberta, the final decisions were made.

The team will now head to Banff and continue camp through Dec. 19, before playing in two pre-tournament games on Dec. 19 and 20. The third and final pre-tournament game will take place Dec. 22 in Edmonton against Russia. As a caveat to the current 25-man roster, Team Canada can still accept players from the NHL until Dec. 15. The two NHL players left to consider would be Carolina’s Seth Jarvis, who had an assist on Carolina’s lone goal in a 2-1 loss to Vancouver Sunday night, and Columbus' Cole Sillinger, who played 14:03 in a 5-4 overtime win in Seattle Saturday night. At this point, neither player is expected to be released.

• Under Ottawa 67’s head coach Dave Cameron, expect Team Canada to play an up-tempo and heavy forecheck style that's difficult to play against. The management team of Alan Millar and James Boyd have a long history with Cameron, and were not only particular in terms of camp invites, but even more scrutinized in determining the final roster.

• As expected, the team will carry three goalies, eight defencemen and 14 forwards. As it was last year in the Edmonton bubble, teams will be allowed to dress 22 players for each game.

• It’s interesting that only two right-shot defencemen were invited to camp, but due to COVID protocols Sudbury’s Jack Thompson wasn’t allowed to attend. I think he would’ve been a lock to make the team, but an outbreak with the Wolves in early December didn’t allow enough time for Thompson to meet protocol standards.

• The other right shot invited was Brandon’s Vincent Iorio, and he was released Sunday night. Iorio is a late-2002 birthday and therefore not eligible to play in the 2023 event. So, all of Canada's remaining defencemen shoot left. Exactly half of the forward group shoots right.

• At 16 years old Connor Bedard is the youngest player on this year's team and he joins Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, Jay Bouwmeester, Jason Spezza, Eric Lindros and Wayne Gretzky as the seventh player that age to represent Canada at the WJC. Bedard is also the smallest player on the team at five-foot-noon, 180 pounds.

• Owen Power is the biggest player on the team, at six-foot-five, 214 pounds. The Buffalo Sabres prospect is attempting to become the first player to win a world men’s gold before winning a world junior gold medal.

• Two NCAA players, both from the University of Michigan, made the team. Power, a defenceman and the first overall pick in the 2021 NHL draft, and Kent Johnson, Columbus’ pick, fifth overall from 2021.

• The pandemic effect combined with the cyclical nature of CHL affiliate league prominence have made for some interesting results in terms of roster composition.

Twelve players from the WHL made Team Canada, including two of the three goalies in Rangers prospect Dylan Garand and Detroit first-rounder Sebastian Cossa. Five OHL players made the cut including projected first overall pick in the 2022 draft Shane Wright. Four players from the QMJHL made it, including Shawinigan teammates Xavier Bourgault and Mavrik Bourque. Two AHL players made it, and both are from Ontario: Cole Perfetti (Manitoba Moose) and Donovan Sebrango (Grand Rapids Griffins).

Three players on this year's Team Canada -- Mason McTavish, Jake Neighbours and Perfetti -- have played NHL games.

• Edmonton is the most represented of any of the CHL teams, with four Oil Kings on the final list: Neighbours, Kaiden Guhle, Dylan Guenther and Cossa.

• From an NHL perspective, five teams have two representatives on Team Canada. Minnesota would’ve had three if Moose Jaw’s Daemon Hunt had not been injured during camp. The Wild, Rangers, Red Wings, Stars and Ducks each have two players on this roster.

• Typically, WJC roster spots are reserved for 19-year-old players, but this year’s edition is much younger, with 16-year-old Bedard, 17-year-old Wright and five 18-year-olds, four of whom won gold at the 2021 world U18 tournament in Texas this past May. Five players started last year’s tournament at 18 years old.

• There are 13 first-round NHL picks on Team Canada. The lowest drafted player is Halifax’s Elliot Desnoyers, who was chosen in the fifth round (135th overall) by Philadelphia in 2020.

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