The more this season has gone on, the more I've been posting articles and gifs and videos on Fraser Minten and Easton Cowan. They're two of Toronto's top prospects, so of course I would. And of course, there are many Leafs fans who are keenly interested in them and their development.

And what better way to measure their quality as a prospect than making Team Canada's roster for the World Juniors this winter! I've started getting a lot more questions from people asking if I think they'll make the roster.

My short answer is: I don't know. I think they could, but I'm not Hockey Canada so I cannot say for sure. I'm a biased Leafs fan who knows a lot more about them than I do for prospects of other teams trying to make Canada's roster. But I can think out loud and do some research and state my reasoning for my final guess on each.

What I do know is that there are a lot of potential players who Canada can draw upon. Now, when I say a lot....

Let's Play a Numbers Game

In the summer, Canada hosted a summer camp with large groups invited that were the likely (at the time) options to be on the long-list for this coming World Junior squad.

CORRECTION: When I researched this, I pulled the wrong year's summer camp roster. This is the correct one:

Below is the revised list.

There were 27 forwards who were invited to the camp, including Fraser Minten but NOT including Easton Cowan.

  • Colby Barlow
  • Owen Beck
  • Zach Benson
  • Macklin Celebrini
  • Nate Danielson
  • Jordan Dumais
  • Jonathan Fauchon
  • Jagger Firgus
  • Ethan Gauthier
  • David Goyette
  • Cedrick Guindon
  • Jordan Gustafson
  • Hunter Haight
  • Paul Ludwinski
  • Bryce McConnell-Barker
  • Fraser Minten
  • Matthew Poitras
  • Austin Roest
  • Calum Ritchie
  • Matthew Savoie
  • Samuel Savoie
  • Brady Stonehouse
  • Markus Vidicek
  • Matthew Wood
  • Brayden Yager
  • Koehn Ziemmer
  • Adam Fantilli

There are a few ways we can narrow this list down to the most likely candidates to be seriously considered for the final cut. First, there is Adam Fantilli and Owen Beck who are the only forwards who were part of last year's World Junior team. Beck is still in junior so he seems like a likely choice, and while I'd say Fantilli would be a 100% lock I also don't think he's likely to be sent by Columbus to the tournament when he's playing a regular NHL role. So that's one or two guys who seem like locks or near certainties. I'll also rule out Matthew Poitras, who like Fantilli is on an NHL team playing in a pretty significant role.

Then there's Macklin Celebrini, an uber prospect who is likely to be the first overall pick in this year's draft – he could fill the role that Bedard and Fantilli did at last year's World Junior team. He's off to a great start in the NCAA, just like Fantilli was when he made last year's WJC team. I can't quite put him as a virtual lock because Canada does have a back and forth history taking draft-year players, but since they just took TWO last year in Bedard and Fantilli they are on a recent trend of being willing to do it.

Then there is a series of high draft picks, most of whom have played for Team Canada in other tournaments before. Matthew Savoie (9th overall 2022), Nate Danielson (9th overall 2023), Connor Geekie (11th), Zach Benson (13th), Brayden Yager (14th), Matthew Wood (15th), Colby Barlow (18th), and Calum Ritchie (27th). Combined with Beck and Celebrini, that's 10 forwards I'd say are in the "more likely" group.

Just those high first rounders is another 8 potential players who are in the "more likely" category. Then you have a mix of players taken in the late first round/earlier second round who have been high performers in their respective leagues: Jordan Dumais, David Goyette, Koehn Ziemmer, Jagger Firgus, and Markus Vidicek. So that's another five potential forwards.

Now, there are other things that can narrow and expand this list. Some of the forwards on this could get hurt and be out for the tournament. On the other hand, there could be some younger guys who were not included in the summer camp who have incredible seasons that could steal a spot. That's what Easton Cowan would be doing, if he made the roster.

But there are others like Cowan who would be competing to steal a spot like he is. Take Carson Rehkopf, a 2nd round pick from last year who leads the OHL in goals and points and is neck and neck with Cowan on points per game. If Cowan should be considered, according to us, what about Rehkopf? Or what about any other Canadian player born in the same year who are having huge breakouts in the CHL, NCAA, USHL or wherever they're playing?

What Tiebreakers Would Team Canada Use?

So like I said, it's a numbers game at the end. Canada is a hard roster to crack because of how many top prospects they have to choose from, even if their absolute best players stay in the NHL.

While we as Leafs fans think Minten and Cowan are great, there are other great prospects they're competing with for only a few roster spots. It's sort of like applying for prestige universities that are highly competitive – having straight A's isn't enough, you need a lot of extra curriculars and volunteering or anything that can give your application an edge.

When it comes to Team Canada, they usually have a particular way of making these decisions. This can vary depending on who is involved in the decision making process, but there are a few specific things that are usually consistent:

  • Prior Team Canada experience—playing for them in big international tournaments before is something they like to reward.
  • Flexible play—being a centre that can move to the wing and back, being able to play a defensive role in the bottom six, being able to kill penalties or be an elite PP specialist, things like that. Being one dimensional does help as a tiebreaker.
  • Age—Canada doesn't care how good you'll be, they care about how good you are right now. If they think two players are roughly equal but born in different years, they'll usually pick the player that's in the older age group.
  • Track record—A final tiebreaker can often be the track record of the two players. If one of them is more established as a long-time top prospect and the other only just had their breakout for a few months leading up to a tournament, they'll pick the guy with the track record.

One way to sum up all of the above points is "safe". If they consider two players to be very close to each other, they'll look for things that make them seem like a safer player to choose. Being older, having a longer track record, being someone they can use in multiple situations, and having experience playing for Team Canada in big tournaments are all factors that may seem like they're safer bets to rely on.

So What Are Their Chances?

So how do Fraser Minten and Easton Cowan stack up against this list? Based on the tiebreakers I mentioned, I'll breakdown what they have going for and against them by each player.


  • Pros—He's a big, a natural centre that can be relied on to take and win a ton of faceoffs, and is a reliable two-way player. He can play in all situations, and has a bit of NHL experience. He could easily be used and thrive in a bottom six, shut down/defensive role, and is in the older age group for eligible players. All things Hockey Canada usually love, and very comparable as a player type to the kind of depth, bottom six guys they took to the tournament last year (Zach Ostapchuk, Colton Dach, Owen Beck, and Reid Schaefer).
  • Cons—He's never played in any major tournaments for Canada, doesn't have a very long track record of being a top prospect and still hasn't really had a breakout as a top offensive producer.


  • Pros—Very flexible player, can fill in as a centre though he's not great at faceoffs. Can be used on the powerplay and is a superb penalty killer. Plays the kind of game coaches love, and I think he could also thrive in a bottom six role that contributes at both ends.
  • Cons—His age will not help, neither will the fact that he hasn't really been considered a top prospect until his breakout to start this season. You may say what about his late surge last season that led Toronto to take him in the first round? To that I say, Team Canada also had that information and still didn't invite him to their summer camp.

So how do their chances look compared to all of the others I've mentioned? In my inexpert opinion there is a group of 10 or 11 players who have the history, hype, draft position, and performances to make them virtual locks or very high chances of making the final cut. There's also Adam Fantilli, who is not yet playing that huge a role and he's on a team who is tied for last in their division. If they decide to release him for the tournament, that is a guaranteed spot taken.

So Minten and Cowan would be competing with several others for those final 2 regular spots plus any bench spots. And the other players they would be competing with are older, have history with Team Canada, and/or are top draft picks.

For what it's worth, I think Minten has a better chance than most others competing for those final spots. He has the age factor, and would make for a perfect bottom six centre who can kill penalties, win big faceoffs and all those lovely 'intangible' things coaches love. But I don't think he is a lock to make that final cut, and his chances are not as good as we Leafs fans may assume. Like I said, it's a numbers game. This year's potential roster has a lot of players who could be used in a similar role. So it would come down to who the specific people selecting the final roster like better.

Cowan is the real long shot to me. Even if he may be the better player in the long run, he doesn't have a lot of those tiebreakers. He likely hasn't really been on Team Canada's radar until very recently, and that's just because of his point production in only 11 games. I think there's a good chance his name gets included in the initial long-list of players they consider, and the fact that he could do that so soon is remarkable on its own. But the numbers game is a hard nut to crack for an 18 year old. There are too many other players who are also top producers but also older, bigger, with a longer track record and previous Team Canada experience.

On the other hand, I think he's laying the foundation to be one of their top considerations for next year's tournament like Fraser Minten might be this year.

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