We are about a month away from evaluation camp so it’s probably time to start talking about the potential roster for this year’s Canadian World Junior team. As with every year there are a handful of eligible players that are in the NHL. For the sake of this exercise I will assume they are going to remain with their teams and not be loaned out for the tournament. That takes Connor McDavid, Aaron Ekblad, Sam Bennett, Rob Fabbri, Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann out of the mix.
|Michael Dal Colle||Brayden Point||Brendan Perlini|
|Anthony Beauvillier||Mathew Barzal||Nick Merkley|
|Lawson Crouse||Dylan Strome||Mitch Marner|
|John Quenneville||Travis Konecny||Jayce Hawryluk|
This has always been a tournament dominated by 19 year olds, as we saw with Max Domi last year. The top forward line reflects that. Brayden Point is a returning player that I have a strong suspicion will be the captain of the team (he wore a letter for Team Canada in both the U17 and U18 tournaments) and could very well be the best forward when the tournament is over. Both Perlini and Dal Colle are mature players and if not for the age limit all three would almost certainly be playing in the AHL this season. This line has the potential to absolutely terrorize younger defenders.
Lines two and three are interchangeable, both offensively talented that will provide the patented Canadian depth. Barzal is a player that has dominated international tournaments in the past, he was Canada’s best forward at last year’s U18 tournament and looks to make an impact at the next level. In past tournaments Beauvillier has played on Barzal’s wing to a lot of success and the hope is that the two can pick up a quick chemistry once again. Nick Merkley can play all three forward positions as is likely to find himself on the team thanks to his versatility and dynamic offensive ability. My third line is Mitch Marner and the giants. Although he has been playing in the middle this season in London, Mitch Marner is likely to slot into this team as a right winger. Marner’s play this season took off when he was put on a line with American Matthew Tkachuk who plays a similar style of game to Dylan Strome. Lawson Crouse may not be the most offensively dynamic player but we saw in last year’s tournament that he doesn’t have to be. Playing a sound two-way game, Crouse has the ability to create a ton of space for his uber-talented linemates.
Travis Konecny is the perfect player for Canada’s 4th line center. He is one of the smartest players in junior hockey who when need be can completely focus on a defensive style of game. He can play the shut down role as he did for chunks of last season in Ottawa but can also fill into an offensive role as the tournament progresses if need be. Jayce Hawryluk is the Brad Marchand of this team. He is a talented offensive player who can play a two way game but has a knack for getting under the skin of opponents. He can play the ‘agitator’ role without being a liability in other aspects of the game. Filling out the line is John Quenneville who is a physical winger that plays very well along the boards. This last wing spot would likely go to Jake DeBrusk is he is healthy. He is currently out indefinitely with an injury but if healthy will likely take a spot on the left wing.
My extra forward is Connor Bleackley, a versatile player who has played well for team Canada in the past at U17 and U18 tournaments. I would have filled this role with Mitchell Stephens but he broke his foot in mid-October and is unlikely to be ready to go when camp opens in December.
Continue here to see who I chose for the back end of the team