Tavares gunning for Jr. Nats invite

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:27 AM ET

OSHAWA -- John Tavares wants to become part of a small and elite group of Canadian hockey players.

Whether the young Oshawa Generals star will have a chance to become the sixth 16-year-old to play for Canada at the world junior will be known in days.

"My confidence is fine," Tavares said last night. "I believe I can make this team and be a part of it.

"I think it shows what the great players are made of when they meet the challenges they are up against and how they perform."

ANNOUNCEMENT COMING

Hockey Canada will announce the roster for the selection camp, Dec. 10-15 in Calgary, on Monday. If Tavares gets the call and eventually cracks the 22-player roster, he will do what only Wayne Gretzky, Eric Lindros, Jason Spezza, Jay Bouwmeester and Sidney Crosby have done before.

Hockey Canada head scout Jim Hammett likes Tavares. But Hammett, who took over from Blair Mackasey this season, refused to tip his hand.

"I have not seen a guy move that well laterally and undress a defenceman when he is not really going that fast," Hammett said. "Do we need to go with another skilled guy or do we go with a guy who has a little more toughness and some wall work? We're still deciding."

Tavares had an assist last night as Canada beat Russia 4-3 at General Motors Centre in the fourth game of the Canada-Russia Challenge. Ryan O'Marra, Patrick McNeill, Steve Downie and Bryan Little scored for Canada.

Eleven players in junior or college, including six forwards, are eligible to return from the club that won gold last winter and all will be invited to camp. Four goalies and 12 defencemen will be invited, and expect at least 18 forwards to be tabbed.

Gilbert Brule of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who chose not to attend the evaluation camp in the summer, won't be invited.

The status of three eligible NHLers -- forwards Jordan Staal of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Guillaume Latendresse of the Montreal Canadiens and defenceman Marc-Andre Vlasic of the San Jose Sharks -- remains unclear.


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