This morning Hockey Canada announced the mini-camp roster for the players auditioning to play in the 2016 IIHF Men's U20 World Championships -- best known as The World Juniors. The camp will be held at the MasterCard Centre for Hockey Excellence in Toronto, from December 10th to 13th.
The Maple Leafs have a few players who could make the team, but will they?
Mitch Marner has been too good for the OHL all season. His NHLe points, 15, rank him higher than every Maple Leaf other than JvR, who hit 16 points last night. He has 15 goals, and 32 assists for 47 points in 22 games. He can play centre or wing, which is a plus for anyone wanting to join a national team. He's also won gold with Canada at the Hlinka Memorial tournament last year, and is captain of the London Knights. Marner is an NHL player on a Junior team, and there's little chance he misses out on this years world juniors team.
Two of the bigger platforms the Hockey Canada brass use for evaluating players in their Summer Development Camp and the CHL Canada Russia Series. At both events, Hockey Canada hasn't been shy about showering Marner with compliments. He's a lock, and should play a huge role, barring injury. - Scott Wheeler
Travis Dermott is having an excellent year for the Erie Otters. An almost PPG defenceman (1G, 21A in 23 games) is playing a smart, slow game, taking his time to avoid mistakes. He's playing with Team Canada lock Dylan Strome, so maybe Strome can add few good words to HC management. Dermott hasn't represented Canada yet in his career, and isn't a lock to get in this time around.
Dermott is in tough to make the team with Canada's depth on the backend, but he was good in his lone game in the CHL Canada Russia Series with an assist and he's among the OHL leaders in most advanced offensive metrics. Canada announced today that dual citizen Jake Walman will be invited to December's camp, so that makes things more difficult on Dermott. - Scott Wheeler
Andrew Nielsen was a player PPP was hesitant to get behind at the draft, but being proven wrong on these things is always welcome. Another defenceman who is scoring at a PPG pace (7G, 15A in 20 games), Nielsen could help Canada's special teams with his smart passing and booming shot. He plays a more physical game than Dermott, and his skating could be better, especially with this year's tournament on international ice where you want skill and speed. Nielsen could be Canada's stay at home defenceman this year, or he could just stay at home as he was not invited to the selection camp.
Despite Nielsen's recent play, he was still a long shot for real Team Canada consideration. There are better offensive options and better defensive options, all with more experience with Team Canada. - Scott Wheeler
Here are the players invited to tryouts:
Anthony Beauvillier, Rourke Chartier, Lawson Crouse, Michael Dal Colle, Pierre-Luc Dubois (2016), Julien Gauthier (2016), Jayce Hawryluk, Travis Konecny, Mitch Marner, Nick Merkley, Brendan Pelini, Brayden Point, John Quenneville, Mitchell Stephens, Dylan Strome, Spencer Watson, Mathew Barzal.
Thomas Chabot, Jakob Chychrun (2016), Travis Dermott, Vince Dunn, Haydn Fleury, Joe Hicketts, Brandon Hickey, Noah Juulsen, Roland McKeown, Travis Sanheim, Jake Walman.
Mackenzie Blackwood and Mason McDonald.
The selection camp roster consists two goalies, 11 defensemen, and 17 forwards and needs to be trimmed down to six defensemen and 12 forwards in time for the tournament.
The Maple Leafs also have several other prospects who could be named to their national teams. The question of William Nylander and Kasperi Kapanen have been covered already, but could we see QMJHL star Dmytro Timashov join Sweden? Will JJ Piccinich or Jeremy Bracco be on Team USA after shunning the NCAA for greener pastures? We'll find out as the rosters are announced soon.
The 2016 World Juniors kick off at 7AM EST on Saturday, December 26th with Russia taking on the Czech Republic. Team Canada's first game is later that day at 1PM EST versus Team USA.