There is a lot of pressure on Team Canada to come home with a gold medal this year, as the team had to settle for a silver medal in each of the last 2 World Junior tournaments. This morning, Head Coach Don Hay and his staff have finalized the roster that will represent Canada at the World Junior Championship. With only 3 returning players, there are many new and unfamiliar names on the roster.
In goal, Mark Visentin will be the starting goaltender and will hope to redeem himself from last year’s collapse in the final at the hands of the Russians. New Jersey prospect Scott Wedgewood will back him up.
On defense, there are no returnees, but it is a very solid group nonetheless. Ryan Murray is the only 2012 draft eligible player, and he is projected to be a top 5 pick. Brandon Gormley will be counted on to play big minutes, as will Dougie Hamilton. Aside from Hamilton, the only other right handed D-man who cracked the roster is Mark Pysyk. The towering Jamie Oleksiak will bring a Tyler Myers-like presence to this team; he is a 6’7 giant. Habs prospect Nathan Beaulieu also made the team, he will likely see powerplay time. The surprise out of camp was Scott Harrington, who beat out several former first round picks.
At center, Mark Scheifele will be without a doubt be #1 on this team. Ryan Strome will likely center the second line. It appears as though the third line center will be Freddie Hamilton, who is defenseman Dougie’s brother. The 4th line center and 13th forward will be between Boone Jenner and Michael Bournival. Both made the team, but it is unclear who will be slotted where. Naturally, injuries can occur, so it’s probable that both will see plenty of playing time.
There was really only 1 spot available on left wing going into camp. Jaden Schwartz, the team’s only college player, was a lock as a returning player. Quinton Howden is also a returnee; he and Schwartz will be on the top 2 lines. Howden did get injured in camp, but it appears to not be too serious. Florida Panthers’ prospect Jonathan Huberdeau could be this year’s breakout star, as he locks in as the third line LW. Passed over by 30 NHL teams at the entry draft, Tanner Pearson locks down that last spot on LW for Canada. I don’t think he will be go undrafted in 2012.
There are no returning players on right wing, but there are 2 NHLers for you. Devante Smith-Pelly of the Anaheim Ducks and Brett Connolly of the Tampa Bay Lightning were released from their respective teams and will surely be counted on to play big minutes up front. Coach Hay took one of his own players from the Vancouver Giants in Brendan Gallagher, who was a fan favorite at the Montreal Canadiens training camp this past September. Rounding out the RWs is Ottawa Senators prospect Mark Stone. He has been dominant in the WHL, and could easily step into the top 6 if Connolly or Smith-Pelly don’t produce.
There you have it, your 2012 World Junior squad. The 22-man roster includes 10 players from the OHL, 5 players from the WHL, 4 players from the QMJHL, 1 player from the NCAA and of course 2 players from the NHL. In a nutshell, you can expect to see good goaltending, a team that plays solid defense, and balanced scoring. The team will play their first game on Monday, December 26 against Finland at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta.
About the Author
Written by Corey Krakower
I am the Director of NHL Content & Habs writer for ProSportsBlogging.com; I have spent 8 seasons behind the bench as a minor hockey coach; and I am the future GM of the Montreal Canadiens (according to my mom). I spend my days managing the Harrow Sports brand in my hometown of Montreal and I moonlight as a Hockey Advisor for Pi Athlete Management. Most importantly, I'll throw anyone under the bus for a laugh.