Canada WJC camp roster features six returnees
Monday, 12.03.2012 / 3:29 PM
By Mike G. Morreale
Hockey Canada on Monday announced the 37-player roster of skaters and goalies invited to Canada's National Junior Team selection camp at the Markin MacPhail Centre at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, Dec. 11-13.
The camp has six returning players from last year's bronze-medal winning Canadian team: defensemen Dougie Hamilton, drafted No. 9 by the Boston Bruins in 2011, and Scott Harrington (Pittsburgh Penguins) as well as forwards Mark Scheifele (Winnipeg Jets), Ryan Strome (New York Islanders), Boone Jenner (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Jonathan Huberdeau (Florida Panthers).
"Anytime you get an opportunity to get those type of returning players in this tournament, it's huge for everyone in the dressing room," Hockey Canada head scout Kevin Prendergast said during a conference call to reveal the selection camp participants. "When you come back a second time, you're a better person for it, stronger and a little more mature."
Additionally, 2011-12 Calder Trophy runner-up Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who has never suited up for Team Canada at the WJC, will also be part of the camp.
In December 2010, Nugent-Hopkins, then 17, was cut from Canada's team on the very last day of camp. In December 2011, he was already a key member of the Edmonton Oilers while averaging a point per game, so he was not released by the organization.
According to Scott Salmond, Hockey Canada's senior director of hockey operations for the national team, Nugent-Hopkins is fully expected to join camp on Monday despite reports of an ailing shoulder.
"As of [Monday], Ryan is on our list and we would expect him to be here on Dec. 10," Salmond said. "I've had a number of conversations with [Edmonton general manager] Steve Tambellini and we'll continue to talk [Monday night] with regard to Ryan's exam [on Monday] in Edmonton. We'll check his health status later but I don't anticipate a change to him being here [Dec. 10]."
The team will be coached by Steve Spott, who served as an assistant coach during Canada's silver medal-winning effort at the 2010 WJC.
"We're not basing positions and opportunity on age," Spott told reporters. "It's going to be whether or not they can help us win a gold medal."
The camp roster will have four goalies, 12 defensemen and 21 forwards. There were 18 players taken from the Ontario Hockey League, 11 from the Western Hockey League, seven from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and one from the American Hockey League (Nugent-Hopkins).
"It might be one of the toughest teams in the world to make this time of the year, so we're looking at the best 23 players who give us an opportunity to win, and in a lot of cases it's those players playing the best right now," Prendergast said. "Whereas the NHL might look at players from a development standpoint, we need guys ready to play and ready to help us right now."
The Canadian team will be named Dec. 13 and will depart for pre-competition camp in Finland two days later. The 2013 WJC will be held Dec. 26 through Jan. 5 in Ufa, Russia. All countries are required to submit their WJC rosters to the International Ice Hockey Federation on Dec. 25. There will be 23 players named to the Canadian National Team roster instead of the usual 22 -- a third goaltender will be included as an alternate.
"If something happens to one of our goaltenders, we'd never get a goalie in there in time," Prendergast told The Canadian Press. "[The third goalie] is going to be told going over, 'You're the third goaltender. The only way you're going to get to play is if one of the other two gets hurt.'"
The camp schedule will include one Red-White intrasquad game on Dec. 11, and two games against teams from Canadian Interuniversity Sport, Dec. 12-13. The CIS teams will be comprised of players from the University of Calgary, University of Alberta and Mount Royal University.
The four goalies competing for three spots will be Malcolm Subban (Boston Bruins) of the Belleville Bulls, Jordan Binnington (St. Louis Blues) of the Owen Sound Attack, Jake Paterson of (Detroit Red Wings) of the Saginaw Spirit and Laurent Brossoit (Calgary Flames) of the Edmonton Oil Kings. Etienne Marcoux of the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada in the QMJHL would have also been a camp invite, but suffered an apparent dislocated shoulder on Saturday.
"Goaltending goes through cycles, and over the last couple of years goaltending has been good but hasn't been great, and in a tourney of this magnitude your goalie has to be one of your best players every night," Prendergast said. "We feel we're bringing in four at the top of their game -- Malcolm is an athletic goalie, Jordan has been on fire the last six weeks and is fundamentally sound. Brossoit took his team to a Memorial Cup last year and has played well over the last month. Jake Paterson is playing on a relatively weak team, but is the best player on his team."
In place of the customary summer development and evaluation camp in August, Hockey Canada had 28 players compete in a four-game exhibition series against the Russians. Canada won that series on a thrilling overtime goal by Strome 3:20 into the first extra period.
That Canadian roster for the four-game Canada-Russia Series had seven players who participated at last year's WJC: Hamilton, Harrington, Ryan Murray (Columbus Blue Jackets) of Everett Silvertips, Huberdeau, Jenner, Scheifele and Strome. Unfortunately, Murray's season is over after suffering a season-ending torn labrum in his left shoulder in November.
The camp roster will also have five players eligible for the 2013 NHL Draft in Newark, N.J.: forwards Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin of the Halifax Mooseheads in the QMJHL, Hunter Shinkaruk of the Medicine Hat Tigers in the WHL, Sean Monahan of the Ottawa 67's and J.C. Lipon of the Kamloops Blazers in the WHL.
MacKinnon, the No. 1-rated skater on NHL Central Scouting's preliminary list of players from the QMJHL, will be the captain for Team Cherry at the Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Jan. 16. Drouin, who is MacKinnon's linemate in Halifax, will be an alternate captain for Team Cherry. Monahan, the No. 1-rated skater in the OHL, and Shinkaruk, the No. 2-rated skater in the WHL, will both serve as alternate captains for Team Orr at the Top Prospects Game. Lipon has been passed over at the NHL Draft the previous two years.
With a potential logjam at center, Spott said some players will be asked to play out of position.
"We have a number of players potentially moving over to the wing," Spott said. "During the Subway Super Series, we played Nathan [MacKinnon] a little bit on right wing. Obviously, he's a world class player and could play any position up front.
"I also spoke to Mark Scheifele about potentially moving over to right wing. That's something we'll look at Monday. Players like this are versatile and can move in and out of any position up front."
Canada will play in Group B at the 2013 WJC, along with Russia, the United States, Slovakia and Germany, with preliminary-round games being played at the 7,950-seat Ufa Arena.
Defending gold medalist Sweden, which scored a 1-0 overtime victory against Russia in last year's WJC gold medal game to end 30 years of championship futility, heads Group A with Finland, the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Latvia.