2023 World Junior Championships: Canada Camp Roster Breakdown


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And then there were 29.

Canada unveiled its side roster for the 2023 World Junior Championship. The United States did the same earlier on Monday, and I featured that group here. Early on, as most predicted, it looks like both heavyweights will stay that way when the tournament heads to Moncton and Halifax later this month.

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Canada’s training camp will take place in Moncton from December 9-12, followed by a final roster training camp a few days later. Here’s a quick breakdown of Canada ahead of their gold medal defensive effort:

Which NHL players will be there?

For the moment? None.

Shane Wright, Dylan Guenther and Brandt Clarke were not named on the camp’s initial roster, but that could change. We know that Wright, for example, is set to return to Seattle’s roster on Tuesday against Montreal, the team that passed him in the 2022 draft. Wright told reporters earlier today that a decision on the WJC had yet to be taken, so it will be interesting to see if they can crack Seattle’s roster more permanently. He would be better served in the NHL, but only if the occasion makes sense.

Guenther had some solid performances with the Arizona Coyotes, but playing critical minutes for a championship-caliber team can be valuable experience. I would have to assume they would give him a call-up again after the tournament as he seemed to be playing well in a side lacking star talent up front, but his age means they don’t need to rush him. I’m a big believer in mass ice time for young prospects, and he’ll have a great opportunity to do that at the World Junior Championship if added.

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And then there’s Clarke, who didn’t make any iterations of the 2022 team. The Canadian management group said they loved who they had and won gold without him anyway. But after starting the NHL year with Los Angeles, it’s hard to say there are seven top defensemen this time around. He also went to the AHL for a conditioning camp, so maybe LA will eventually let him go.

Currently, Canada will need to eliminate one goaltender, two defensemen and three forwards. But if Wright, Guenther and Clarke are on the team, make them five forwards and three defensemen. Just because they aren’t on the camp roster to start doesn’t mean they won’t be there when games start. So we’ll have to wait and see.

No shortage of high-level talent

Connor Bedard. Logan Stankoven. Olen Zellweger. Brennan Othman. These four were so crucial to Canada’s summer team and will be counted on again as Canada look to repeat. They’re an incredible core group to lean on, and shouldn’t be lacking at 5v5 and man advantage.

But the talent goes far beyond these names. There’s a chance Canada will have the top two players picked in the 2023 draft, with Adam Fantilli likely forcing himself into Canada’s top six after an incredible start to his NCAA career. Speaking of great seasons, Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Jordan Dumais has been one of the best prospects in all of hockey this season, period, and deserves to be in the roster when the games start counting. the day after Christmas. At the same time, if Canada can’t find him a top-nine spot, the team could instead choose to go for more defensive or physical options deeper in the roster.

That’s quite the position to be in, though. You have a QMJHL player who is giving the competition a beating, and he might not even be a lock for this team. It’s a good depth.

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The competition in the middle will be electric

Canada have no shortage of talent in the middle, with Bedard, Stankoven and Fantilli all thriving in the middle. My guess is that Bedard, at the very least, will be transferred to the wing, and Fantill could suffer the same fate. After dominating the face-off spot in the summer tournament, I expect Stankoven to take first place. And then there’s also the Shane Wright factor.

But then, this is where it gets interesting. Owen Beck, Zach Dean, Nathan Gaucher and Riley Kidney are just a few of the others battling for what will likely become a two-seater race. I removed Beck from my original list, not because of his game, but just considering the competition in the last six. Gaucher and Kidney were on the team over the summer and I expect them to return. Dean was fantastic and can play the spot 2C or 3C. I feel like Beck might be the odd man out, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he did well as a fourth-line center either. He is so good.

Either way, Canada’s central depth will be a huge strength.

How does the blue line stack?

Canada’s defensive core may not match that of the United States, but we’re still talking about one of the best cores in the tournament. Zellweger is the No. 1 guy right now, and Clarke would be a terrific inclusion if he’s loaned out.

Apart from Zellweger, Ethan Del Mastro and Carson Lambos will return from the 2022 squad to help solidify the back. Kevin Korchinski and Nolan Allan are both expected to be there, while Jack Matier will be called upon to build on his strong start with the Ottawa 67s.

My first thoughts on this blueline core are that he will move the puck well with good speed and with good save potential. Again, it may not be as structured as the United States, but I’m not concerned about this group.

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Who will be the number 1 goalie?

It’s always a big question mark for Canada’s junior team, and this year is no different. The two favorites for the number one spot are Benjamin Gaudreau and Tyler Brennan, both of whom have experience with Canada’s National Junior Team program. I said in my predictions article last week that I believe they will give Gaudreau the starting point given his success at U-17 and U-18 level, but neither goalkeeper has been spectacular. .

Hockey Canada likes to come back to familiar names, and Gaudreau was solid at the 2021 U-18 World Championship. The San Jose Sharks prospect carried the burden in Sarnia, where he had to make up for an average defensive core. That being said, I don’t think he’ll have much of a leash if given the No. 1 role, and Brennan is no stranger to pulling his punches in the WHL.

I think Thomas Milic will grab the third goalie spot after a strong start to the season, but William Rousseau threw his goalie mask into the ring after his terrific run with Quebec. The third goalie spot will be interesting – and heck, Canada has even chosen to bring an extra player to the roster and go the two goalie route in the past as well.

Bubble Players to Watch

I mentioned Dumais’s name earlier because based on his sheer skill set, I think he should be on the final roster. The problem is his small 5-foot-9 frame and lack of defensive acumen compared to some of the others at camp. If top nine isn’t an option, maybe he’s positioning himself as a quick 13th striker, and I think that would suit him incredibly.

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Reid Schaefer, another Edmonton Oilers prospect to watch. Schaefer had an absolute warm-up to start the season with 10 goals in his first seven games. But since then he has scored just five goals in 14 games, including three in a single outing on November 1. Did he warm up too early? Maybe, but I still love him as a depth shooter.

Other notable omissions include Connor Geekie, Denton Mateychuk, Zachary L’Heureux, and Corson Ceulemans. I thought Matechyuk and Ceuelemans had good shots on the blue line, but, alas. Geekie is another player, like his Winnipeg ICE teammate in Savoie, who was left out as part of a numbers game. L’Heureux is a little less surprising as he has only played five games this year for Haixaf due to injury. Still, he’s been excellent in those outings with five goals.

Notable omissions

One that many fans will wonder about is Logan Mailloux. Given the vast defensive options available, I’m not surprised. Although Mailloux was good, he didn’t do anything too special that would have made him a real contender. Mailloux can be a bit of a defensive liability as he tries to do too much with the puck, and with a defensive group like this he needed more than less than a point per game at 19. Of course, the off-ice stuff from a few years ago is something the team probably wanted to avoid, in terms of PR, given everything that’s going on with Hockey Canada right now, so that didn’t didn’t help his chances either.

I’m a big fan of Matthew Savoie, who could have fit in well on the wing. He’s an incredibly talented forward with a bright future at Buffalo – and a player I had on my roster prediction. In the end, he just wasn’t needed, and it’s a testament to the team’s offensive depth where a guy like Dumais isn’t even a lock.

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Oh, and get ready for Jagger Firkus’ revenge tour in 2024.

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