As Christmas soon approaches, two things routinely happen amongst Canadians all across the country. One, you leave all of your Christmas shopping until the very last minute and you enter yourself into a shopping Royal Rumble where your prize is to pick amongst the very best of the gifts nobody else wanted. Secondly, you can't stop thinking of the most wonderful time of the year, the World Junior Championship.
Team Canada's World Junior Roster
As always, Bob McKenzie reported upon the final cuts and the official roster for Team Canada heading into the World Junior Championships. This year's Team Canada certainly lacks the super-prospect it has had in the past, and it also doesn't have a wealth of first rounders as it's total of eight (Bean, Fabbro, Makar, Foote, McLeod, Howden, Thomas, Steel) is down from previous years. Asides from that, what this year's Team Canada has a lot of is players who know how to put the puck in the back of the net. Robert Thomas of the London Knights has recorded 20 goals in 27 games, Tyler Steenbergen of the Swift Current Broncos has recorded 35 goals in 27 games and Boris Katchouk of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds has 27 goals in 30 games. Katchouk and Steenbergen represent a couple of the many second round and later draft picks that will make up much of Team Canada's depth offensively.
On defense, the group will be led by Montreal Canadiens prospect Victor Mete. Mete who was lent to the team from the Canadiens should emerge the same way Senators defenseman Thomas Chabot emerged on last years team. A smooth skater who is responsible in his own zone, Mete will be the backbone of the team's defense. The depth on defense should be dutifully noted, of the seven players, four of them are first-round draft selections. Clague, Fabbro, and Bean are all returning from last years tournament, and it would be no surprise if Clague and Fabbro shaped the top pairing for the duration of the tournament.
Between the pipes, it was a shock when it was announced that Michael DiPietro was cut from the team. A Memorial Cup Champion with the Windsor Spitfires, and a player who has had much experience in big games, DiPietro seemed to be the clear choice to backup Carter Hart with a chance for a couple starts. Canada elected to appoint Colton Point who has played well in the NCAA with Colgate as the backup to Hart. Point who was not invited to the summer training camp has played well sporting a .938SV% in the ECAC division. Out of all the final cuts, the decision to cut DiPietro could emerge to be the most controversial.
The Team Canada which will be taking the ice at this year's World Junior Championship will not be star-studded with the likes of high profile draft-picks such as Dylan Strome and Connor McDavid in the past. The team will rely heavily on its size with 18 of 22 players above 6-foot, goal scoring ability, and defensive depth. Hart will be the true number one and will get his second shot at winning the coveted World Junior Gold medal. Led by Head Coach Dominique Ducharme, Canada opens up tournament play on December 26th against Finland at 4:00 PM in beautiful Western New York.