One of my favourite things to do – period, end of story – is think about who is going to represent Canada at the upcoming World Junior Championship, slated to begin Boxing Day in Edmonton and Calgary.
I spend endless hours projecting, and wondering whom the head scout is going to bring to the team’s respective camps and then who will actually get the unbelievable call to don the Maple Leaf. I love it.
Another step in the process begins a week from Monday in Victoriaville with the start of the Canada Russia Subway Super Series.
Let me say, this is a very important step for the players from the CHL’s three leagues – and in some cases critical. Kevin Prendergast the current head scout’s job is beyond difficult in just trying to pare this group down to the 32 or so that will participate in the final selection camp in Calgary in December.
Here is what you need to think about, and I have had this discussion with many friends over the years. Just because your favourite star player in your own community is having a heck of a year in his respective league does not mean he is destined for the camp and the team.
Hey, I am not going to lie, there are always a few players here and there that get left off a camp list that makes me wonder. I know you have heard this before, the Hockey Canada brass is trying to build the best team for one event for 10 days to win a gold medal.
Here’s what else you need to know. The play at the World Juniors is at least a couple of notches higher than that of major junior. So when the final camp list is announced ask yourself this: In the role that he plays, is the player better than the individuals selected in that slot or position and do you see this player flourishing in a different role?
Canada is always without some of its best players thanks to the NHL. This year will be no exception.
A major concern as I see it is down the middle. It’s very likely there will be no Ryan Johansen, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Sean Couturier. All are performing admirably at the next level. Those players if available would probably be your number 1 2 and 3 centres.
So getting back to the series now the door becomes a little more open for others. In three cases in particular they didn’t even receive an invite to the summer camp. Saint John Sea Dog Zach Phillips, a first round pick of the Minnesota Wild, Jordan Weal of the Regina Pats and Max Reinhart of the defending WHL champion Kootenay Ice.
In my opinion it’s those type of players that truly need to show what they are made of in the upcoming six game set.