After a miraculous gold medal victory for Team Canada on the World Junior Hockey Championships in August, the Canadians will look to repeat the feat in Halifax and Moncton this December. With headliners Shane Wright and Connor Bedard on the roster, Canada is in an amazing place to win its twentieth World Junior title.
Hockey Canada released its 22-man roster, which incorporates 10 gamers from the Western Hockey League (WHL), 4 from the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and 4 from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (LHJMQ). There is a participant in US College and three on mortgage from NHL golf equipment.
Canada’s proverbial weapons are loaded for this showcase occasion, as Bedard is the consensus high decide within the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, whereas Wright, who was the fourth-overall decide by the Seattle Kraken in 2022, is on mortgage to Hockey Canada for this match. Two different NHLers have additionally been made accessible by their mother or father golf equipment: the Arizona Coyotes have given the inexperienced gentle to ahead Dylan Guenther, whereas the Los Angeles Kings have loaned out Brandt Clarke to man Canada’s blue line.
Dennis Williams, who serves as head coach and GM of the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League (WHL), was named head coach and can have loads of expertise to thwart any opponent on the way in which to a different championship.
Benjamin Gaudreau, Thomas Milic
Benjamin Gaudreau is a 6-foot-2 attacking netminder who begins for the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). The San Jose Sharks’ third-round decide in 2021 is quick on his toes and unafraid to play on the high of his crease to problem shooters. In 22 video games for the Sting this season, he sports activities a goals-against common (GAA) of three.63 and a save share (SV%) of .868.
He shall be joined by Thomas Milic, a 2023 draft-eligible goalie who’s at the moment guarding the web for the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL. The 6-foot goalie from Coquitlam, BC, has had season main Seattle to a 20-4-1 document behind a GAA of two.35 and an SV% of .919. He is extra conservative than Gaudreau however makes use of his pace and spectacular footwork to take care of positioning and infrequently has to make the flashy save.
Related: 2023 Guide to the World Junior Championship
Latest News & Highlights
The duo was additionally the tandem that led Canada’s U-18 group to a gold medal in Texas in 2021. Gaudreau was the starter in that match, however nobody has been named primary for this occasion but. That will seemingly rely on how every performs in Canada’s pre-tournament video games.
Nolan Allen, Brandt Clarke, Ethan Del Mastro, Tyson Hinds, Kevin Korchinski, Jack Matier, Olen Zellweger
Highlighted by Brandt Clarke, who is on loan from the Kings, together with Ethan Del Mastro and Olen Zellweger, who’re returning for his or her second journey to the WJC, Canada’s defensive corp is a stable group that possesses measurement, power and the power to maneuver the puck.
Del Mastro, the captain of the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL, was chosen by the Chicago Blackhawks within the 2021 NHL Draft. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound left-handed shot brings management to the squad and a stage of engagement that makes it laborious to play towards him. He loves the one-on-one battles and is never out of place, utilizing his lengthy attain and power to his benefit. In 22 video games for the Steelheads, he has 21 factors (two targets and 19 assists), together with 35 minutes in penalties.
“This season in many games you’ll see his team really rely on him to make plays, take on the other teams’ best player, and be the vocal leader. It’s impressive to see, no doubt why Team Canada will have him in an important top 4 role. Moving forward, I expect Del Mastro to graduate from the OHL to the AHL and immediately be one of the IceHogs best players.”
– Kyle Graden, Prospect Update: Ethan Del Mastro
Zellweger, a Calgary native who fits up for the Everett Silvertips of the WHL, is a 5-foot-10 offensive defenseman and shall be a pillar on Canada’s blue line. Coming off final season, when he was the top-scoring defenseman on the 2022 WJC and named the WHL’s Best Defenseman, he’ll quarterback Canada’s power-play unit and can lead the group in transition from defence to offence. He is a youthful model of Winnipeg Jets’ Josh Morrissey (additionally from Calgary), who will be part of the frenzy and produce his offensive contact to any scoring probability. Selected by the Anaheim Ducks within the second spherical of the 2021 NHL Draft, he is usually a difference-maker.
Clarke is 6-foot-2 and desires one thing to occur each time he touches the puck, and isn’t afraid to push the puck. He sees issues that others don’t, is affected person, and permits the play to develop earlier than he makes his determination.
He began this season with the Kings after which was despatched to the Ontario Reign, their AHL affiliate, earlier than being recalled in November when he was a wholesome scratch for a lot of the month. The WJC will give him an opportunity to rejuvenate his sport whereas enjoying towards his friends and exhibit the talents that satisfied the Kings to take him with their first decide (eighth general) within the 2021 Draft.
Besides Zellweger, the remainder of Canada’s defence has a median peak of 6-foot-3. They are huge, bodily, and essentially sound. The solely query mark on this group is, can they sustain with the pace of the opposition’s forecheckers? They can all transfer the puck and are defensively sound, however the foot pace of this group may be their solely Achilles’ heel. Other than that, search for this group to regulate their finish and dominate their counterparts within the corners and alongside the boards.
Caedan Bankier, Connor Bedard, Colton Dach, Zach Dean, Adam Fantilli, Nathan Gaucher, Dylan Guenther, Zack Ostapchuk, Brennan Othmann, Joshua Roy, Reid Schaefer, Logan Stankoven, Shane Wright
Bedard and Wright will carry the burden of the ahead unit, and with good purpose. Bedard is the lottery decide most bottom-feeding NHL groups are aiming for. He was the projected number-one decide within the upcoming draft earlier than he performed a single WHL sport. Last season, the middle scored 100 factors in 62 video games for the Regina Pats, and this season already, he has 64 factors in 28 video games. Averaging 2.3 factors per sport, he’s at the moment on tempo to document 155 factors this season. He is now 17 factors forward of the subsequent participant within the WHL, and his 175 photographs on aim are precisely 40 away from Zellwegger, who’s second in that class.
For a lot of the 2021-22 season, Wright was projected to be the number-one general choice in final yr’s draft till the second the Montreal Canadiens chosen Juraj Slafkovsky of Czechia. Wright grew to become the fourth-overall decide by the Kraken and was on their opening-night roster. The group despatched him to their American Hockey League affiliate (AHL) after a gradual begin, which noticed him rating one aim in eight video games within the NHL. In solely 5 video games with the Coachella Valley Firebirds, he has 4 targets and an help.
While these two will garner a lot of the media’s consideration, Canada’s deep ahead unit needs to be problematic to play towards, as all of them possess the prerequisite attributes important for right this moment’s sport.
“We got lots of skill, but at the same time, we want to have heaviness throughout our lineup. We want to play fast. We want to play hard. We want to compete and put teams on their heels. From our experience in August and last December, it’s going to make a big difference. Not only the size but the fact our players, who are larger players, they can really move. They can close quickly and play within the boundaries. So, it’s going to be a group where there’s not much room out there.”
– Allan Millar, Canada’s Director of Player Personnel
Adam Fantilli ought to carry his justifiable share of offensive duties. Choosing the NCAA route, the Toronto native is making a reputation for himself on the University of Michigan, the place he’s the Wolverines’ main scorer, with 26 factors (11 targets, 15 assists) in simply 16 video games. He is the quantity two ranked draft-eligible participant within the 2023 NHL Draft and may pose an issue for the opposition.
Coyotes’ ahead Dylan Guenther has an explosive shot that may come into play in the course of the match. The 6-foot-2 right-handed shot, who shall be a key part to the Coyotes’ rebuild, has three targets and 11 assists in 21 NHL video games and is on tempo to document 40 factors in his rookie season.
Canada’s ahead group is laden with pace, talent, and measurement. Caeden Bankier has 20 targets this season for the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers and is second solely to Bedard in that class on the roster. The 6-foot-2 native of Surrey, BC, is on tempo to document 89 factors this season. His WHL teammate, Logan Stankoven, is at the moment tied for third in league scoring, with 44 factors (17 targets, 27 assists) in 21 video games, and brings a wealth of worldwide expertise to the roster. The reigning WHL and CHL Player-of-the-Year was on final yr’s gold medal group, in addition to the U18 group that gained gold in 2021. In August on the 2022 WJC, he had the most effective face-off share, successful 73% of his attracts.
With Canada’s belongings up entrance, it isn’t obscure why they’re favoured to repeat as champions. Their pace and talent, mixed with their bodily presence all through the lineup, shall be troublesome for different groups to compete towards. Besides Bedard and Stankoven, each ahead is over six toes tall and can use their pace to be a power within the offensive zone whereas additionally being accountable within the defensive finish.
Canada’s World Junior expertise and quest for back-to-back titles begins on Boxing Day after they tackle Czechia at Scotiabank Centre in Halifax. Canada will even tackle Germany, Austria and Sweden to cap off the preliminary spherical earlier than the match concludes with the gold medal sport on Jan. 5
Keith Forsyth is a contract author and sports activities junkie from rural Manitoba who’s masking the Winnipeg Jets for The Hockey Writers. Keith loves all sports activities and is a large fan of the NFL (Skol Vikings… if you already know, you already know) and the Montreal Expos (they’re coming again… you watch!). He just lately retired from the training world instructing highschool, the place his best ardour was teaching younger athletes. He brings that very same logical, behind the bench sort of method to you as he delivers an insightful look into the NHL and particularly the Jets. For interview requests or content material information, observe Keith on Twitter or his social media accounts. They seem below his photograph on articles like this one.