Brent Sutter and the Hockey Canada staff have chosen a group of individuals that brings a unique collection of skill and sandpaper to the rink on a consistent basis. There's so much depth up front that two of the top scorers in the WHL didn't make the squad. The collection of blue-liners assembled is among the best group ever assembled. And though the two goaltenders selected don't have much international experience, adequate play between the pipes may be enough to propel Canada to its first gold medal since 1997.
"We have a little bit of everything," said Sutter, who has put his stamp on the team in his first go-around as head coach of the world junior team. "We're big, we have good skill and I think we have the right mix of character guys."
All 12 of the returning players from last year's silver medalist entry in Finland secured their spot on the roster.
With three tremendously talented lines and another high-energy unit that should create havoc and opportunities, scoring goals shouldn't be much of a problem for this group.
"It's deep, for sure," said forward Sidney Crosby, who is expected to be among the top contributors in his second world junior experience. "The good thing is that it's not going to take a long time for chemistry. Everyone knows each other and gets along great. When that's out of the way, you can get down to business and worry about your game."
Looking for size? How does an average of 6-foot-1, 205 pounds sound?
Profile? There are 11 first round draft picks and six selected in the second and third rounds, not to mention Crosby, the consensus first overall pick if there is a draft in 2005.
As for experience, the average age on the roster is 19 years, five months and 28 days, which represents the oldest Canadian junior team since the Program of Excellence was created.
Leadership won't be a problem, with 11 current captains and an additional nine alternates on board.
The defence corps will be led by the pairing of Dion Phaneuf and Shea Weber.
On the bubble
Because of a shoulder injury to returnee Brent Seabrook, Sutter opted to keep eight defencemen on the 23-man roster and said he would keep that many around as long as it made sense.
But as long as Seabrook gets healthy, a couple of blue-liners -- Kyle Quincey and Danny Syvret -- remain on the bubble.
Seabrook said the healing process was moving along nicely and that he hoped to appear in next week's exhibition games against Finland and Switzerland.
"We're waiting for precautionary reasons," said Seabrook. "I think I could play tomorrow. Maybe tonight."
Jeff Glass and Winnipeg's Rejean Beauchemin are expected to share the net, but Glass may have a leg up to start the opening game of the tournament against Slovakia on Dec. 25.
"I know he's had a difficult time this year in different parts of the season ... but any big game he needed to play in, (Beauchemin) played well," said Sutter, noting Beauchemin's strong summer evaluation camp. "Coming in here, he had three very good days.
"And Glass, to me, right from the get-go has probably been the best guy. That's right from the start of the regular season right through to this day."
Hockey Canada head scout Blair Mackasey said reducing the roster was tough, but there were few surprises.
"It's pretty much what we thought it was going to be coming out of camp this summer," said Mackasey. "Everybody feels comfortable with what we have. It's going to be a very high-energy team and a team that competes very hard."
MAKING THE CUT
Canada's national junior hockey team roster following nine player cuts yesterday (one more cut remains to be made before the Dec. 25-Jan. 4 tournament; club team and league in parentheses):
* Rejean Beauchemin, Winnipeg (Prince Albert Raiders, WHL); Jeff Glass, Cochrane, Alta. (Kootenay Ice, WHL).
* Cam Barker, Winnipeg (Medicine Hat Tigers, WHL); Shawn Belle, Edmonton (Tri-City Americans, WHL); Braydon Coburn, Shaunavon, Sask. (Portland Winter Hawks, WHL); Dion Phaneuf, Edmonton (Red Deer Rebels, WHL); Kyle Quincey, Kleinburg, Ont. (Mississauga IceDogs, OHL); x-Brent Seabrook, Tsawwassen, B.C. (Lethbridge Hurricanes, WHL); Danny Syvret, Millgrove, Ont. (London Knights, OHL); Shea Weber, Sicamous, B.C., (Kelowna Rockets, WHL).
* Patrice Bergeron, Ancienne-Lorette, Que., (Providence Bruins, AHL); Jeff Carter, London, Ont. (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, OHL); Jeremy Colliton, Blackie, Alta. (Prince Albert Raiders, WHL); Sidney Crosby, Cole Harbour, N.S. (Rimouski Oceanic, QMJHL); Nigel Dawes, Winnipeg (Kootenay Ice, WHL); Stephen Dixon, Halifax (Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, QMJHL); Colin Fraser, Surrey, B.C., (Red Deer Rebels, WHL); Ryan Getzlaf, Regina (Calgary Hitmen, WHL); Andrew Ladd, Maple Ridge, B.C., (Calgary Hitmen, WHL); Clarke MacArthur, Lloydminster, Alta. (Medicine Hat Tigers, WHL); Corey Perry, Peterborough, Ont. (London Knights, OHL); Michael Richards, Kenora, Ont., (Kitchener Rangers, OHL); Anthony Stewart, Toronto (Kingston Frontenacs).
x-denotes decision will be made whether he's fit enough to play