Canadian junior team takes smaller approach to camp

Aaron Ekblad, left, and Connor McDavid are two of the young guns invited to the Canadian junior...

Aaron Ekblad, left, and Connor McDavid are two of the young guns invited to the Canadian junior team's selection camp. (QMI Agency file photo)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:51 PM ET

Brent Sutter liked what he saw in Lake Placid last August.

In fact, the head coach of Canada’s junior team liked what he saw so much there was a drastic decrease in the number of players who will be at Canada’s selection camp next week.

Hockey Canada on Monday announced a selection camp roster of 25 players, down from the usual list of 35-plus invitees.

For the first time, Canada participated in USA Hockey’s exhibition tournament this past summer, and that event helped put a foundation in place for the WJC in Malmo, Sweden.

“It’s a change,” Sutter said. “It’s certainly different than in the past where we have had mid-30s or over, but it’s good. This would not have been done this way if there was not a really clear direction or path when we left Lake Placid. You can get things implemented and get going with your team.”

Canada has not won world junior gold since 2009, and had a 14-year streak of finishing with a medal snapped last winter when the team finished fourth in Russia.

Canada opens the 2014 world junior Dec. 26 against Germany.

The Minnesota Wild has agreed to loan defenceman Mathew Dumba to Canada. That leaves four eligible players in the NHL — forwards Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado), Sean Monahan (Calgary) and Tom Wilson (Washington) and defenceman Morgan Rielly (Toronto).

Rielly, the Leafs have said, will not be playing in the world junior. Canada does not expect to get Wilson, while MacKinnon is a long shot. Monahan’s status is unclear because he is dealing with a hairline fracture in his foot.

Canada’s camp starts Dec. 12 with player arrivals in Toronto. Canada will practise on Dec. 13, play a CIS select team on Dec. 14, and practise on Dec. 15 before heading to Europe. All on-ice activities will be at the MasterCard Centre.

There are just three returning players from last year’s team — goalie Jake Paterson, defenceman Griffin Reinhart and forward Jonathan Drouin. Reinhart will miss the first three games of the tournament to finish serving a suspension that was levied during the tournament last winter.

Also invited to the selection camp is forward Charles Hudon, who made the team last year but was hurt in an exhibition game and did not play in the tournament.

Sutter said he was not sure when he would make final cuts — he has to trim one defenceman and two forwards. The final roster has to be submitted to the International Ice Hockey Federation by Dec. 25.

“There is no question that pressure is out there all the time,” Sutter said. “It’s just the way it is in our country, in any major hockey event. But we’re not concerned about a gold medal right now. Our concentration is focusing on Day 1, which would be Dec. 12, when the kids get in.

“You know they are going to come in and throw everything into it, and that is all you can ask from them. We’ll try to put everybody on the right path and let’s take it and run with it and see where it takes us to.”

Canada’s selection camp roster (with club team and NHL rights):

GOALIES

Zachary Fucale, Halifax (QMJHL), Montreal; Jake Paterson, Saginaw (OHL), Detroit

DEFENCE

Chris Bigras, Owen Sound (OHL), Colorado; Mathew Dumba, Minnesota (NHL); Aaron Ekblad, Barrie (OHL), Eligible 2014; Josh Morrissey, Prince Albert (WHL), Winnipeg; Adam Pelech, Erie (OHL), N.Y. Islanders; Derrick Pouliot, Portland (WHL), Pittsburgh; Griffin Reinhart, Edmonton (WHL), N.Y. Islanders; Damon Severson, Kelowna (WHL), New Jersey

FORWARDS

Josh Anderson, London (OHL), Columbus; Jonathan Drouin, Halifax (QMJHL), Tampa Bay; Frederik Gauthier, Rimouski (QMJHL), Toronto; Félix Girard, Baie-Comeau (QMJHL), Nashville; Bo Horvat, London (OHL), Vancouver; Charles Hudon, Chicoutimi (QMJHL), Montreal; Scott Laughton, Oshawa (OHL), Philadelphia; Curtis Lazar, Edmonton (WHL), Ottawa; Taylor Leier, Portland (WHL); Philadelphia; Anthony Mantha, Val-d’Or (QMJHL), Detroit; Connor McDavid, Erie (OHL), Eligible 2015; Nic Petan, Portland (WHL), Winnipeg; Sam Reinhart, Kootenay (WHL), Eligible 2014; Kerby Rychel, Windsor (OHL), Columbus; Hunter Shinkaruk, Medicine Hat (WHL), Vancouver

terry.koshan@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/koshtorontosun


Videos

Photos