Canada enters the World Juniors again as the heavy favorite, this year even more than usual. No team will benefit as much from the extra talent that would have likely been skating in the NHL regular season if there was no lockout. Players like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jonathan Huberdeau and Dougie Hamilton would almost certainly be with their respective NHL clubs, but now they find themselves on a final roster that should claim the World Junior Championship.
The following are notes on each player on the Canadian roster based on my own observations and talking to scouts and executives. Two of the goalies, Jordan Binnington and Jake Paterson, were omitted due to a lack of information on the players.
Anthony Camara, LW, Boston Bruins (Barrie-OHL): Camara is an interesting prospect due to his scoring surge this season. He's displayed a quality power game, decent speed and -- not a lot but some -- ability with the puck. Still when I asked one scout about him the scout said he's not sold yet and sees Camara as more of an energy line player. He should provide that kind of value for Canada.
Philip Danault, C/W, Chicago Blackhawks (Victoriaville-QMJHL): It's rare you can project a Junior-aged player to be a good -- if not a high-end -- defensive player, but I have no problem saying that about Danault. He's a very aware player in his own end who works his tail off. He's also a high-end skater as well, who can contribute some offense.
Jonathan Drouin, LW, 2013 draft eligible (Halifax-QMJHL): Drouin has worked himself into the lottery pick discussion this season and has alleviated concerns he's riding MacKinnon's coattails. Drouin is a fantastic puck handler and passer who can flash high-end skating as well. He's an exciting offensive player who creates on every shift.
Dougie Hamilton, D, Boston Bruins (Niagara-OHL): The reigning CHL Defenseman of the Year and arguably the top drafted defenseman in the CHL returns to this tournament for the second time. Hamilton is a unique player because of the skating and offensive ability he has relative to his size. He's still working out the kinks in his own end but the upside for him is so, so high.
Scott Harrington, D, Pittsburgh Penguins (London-OHL): Harrington was part of Canada's top shutdown unit last year and should provide similar value this time around. Harrington skates well but his best asset is his high-end hockey sense, particularly in the defensive end.
Jonathan Huberdeau, LW, Florida Panthers (Saint John-QMJHL): Huberdeau's scoring rates are understandably down a bit because Saint John went from unbelievably stacked last season to below-average with a lot of key graduations. There's little doubt that Huberdeau is an elite prospect though, with special puck skills and vision. His frame still needs developing.
Charles Hudon, LW, Montreal Canadiens (Chicoutimi-QMJHL): Hudon has a rich history in international play, leading all forwards in scoring at the Under-17 championship two seasons ago, and leading last season's Ivan Hlinka tournament in scoring. He's a very skilled and smart player who has shown considerable defensive value this season, although he's a small player (5-foot-10). It was somewhat surprising how quickly he became a lock for the Under-20 team and his prospect stock is trending upwards.
Boone Jenner, C, Columbus Blue Jackets (Oshawa-OHL): Jenner has always been seen as a great power forward who can contribute a decent amount of offense, but the latter part of his game has taken off this year somewhat due to his improved skating. Jenner's a returning player at this event who can play a variety of roles be it a top checking one or contributing on offense.
J.C. Lipon, RW, 2013 draft eligible (Kamloops-WHL): Lipon went undrafted last season but this time around he's making a good case to be selected. He's been near the top of the WHL scoring race all season. He's not along the same talent level as Kings first-round pick Tanner Pearson, who went in the first round as a previously undrafted player, but he could go in the top three rounds. He's a good skater and passer with solid defensive value.
Nathan MacKinnon, C, 2013 draft eligible (Halifax-QMJHL): The potential first-overall pick this season is everything you want in a prospect. He's an off the charts skater, a great puck handler, can set up his teammates, is unusually strong for his age and works as hard as any energy line player. He's got it all and he should be an asset for Canada even as a 17-year-old.
Ryan Murphy, D, Carolina Hurricanes (Kitchener-OHL): Murphy is an extremely exciting player to watch, as he's an elite skater with plus hands and can be so threatening with the puck on the rush or from the blue line. His issues have always been his size, his defense and being too much of a gambler. The latter two aspects have started to come around, but it will be interesting to see if Canada uses him as a regular or just as a specialist.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, Edmonton Oilers (Oklahoma City-AHL): Nuge was an above-average NHL player last season and one of the top players in the AHL this season. So, in an event with a bunch of Under-20 players, the expectation for the former No. 1-overall pick is nothing short of domination. He's a unique puck handler with elite vision and good skating ability.
Xaiver Ouellet, D, Detroit Red Wings (Blainville-Boisbriand-QMJHL): Ouellet is a player who has impressed scouts with his ability to make plays with the puck, keep his composure under pressure and log a large amount of tough minutes. He's a little on the small side and not a standout skater, but he gets a lot good things done.
Griffin Reinhart, D, New York Islanders (Edmonton-WHL): The fourth-overall pick in this past draft hasn't had all that good an offensive season, but his value is in his defense as he's a very aware big man who is always in position. With the puck Reinhart doesn't panic, makes a good first pass and will look for his chance to rush up as well.
Ty Rattie, RW, St. Louis Blues (Portland-WHL): Rattie's scoring rates are down somewhat this season, but it's not a real reason to be alarmed as he's without top prospect Sven Baertschi this season. Rattie is a very skilled and imaginative offensive player who can finish. His issues are that his frame is undeveloped and he sometimes tries to do too much.
Morgan Rielly, D, Toronto Maple Leafs (Moose Jaw-WHL): Rielly was seen as a risk/reward pick at the draft because of the knee injury that caused him to miss a good chunk of his draft season, but he's simply looked terrific in 2012-13. He's a high-end skater, puck handler and passer who can control the puck and is exciting to watch. His frame impedes him on defense though. Rielly could play the top pairing for Canada.
Brett Ritchie, RW, Dallas Stars (Niagara-OHL): Ritchie has had a bit of a breakout season. In past seasons he's been known for having great flashes but also having consistency issues. This year he's taken the good times and kept them rolling and what you have is a big power forward with a quality amount of offensive skill.
Mark Scheifele, C, Winnipeg Jets (Barrie-OHL): Scheifele has been high quality this season and while every scout knows about his skill and high-end vision, it's been the improvement to his skating that has notably improved his prospect stock.
Ryan Strome, C, New York Islanders (Niagara-OHL): Strome has been excellent this season, as the former No. 5-overall pick is leading the OHL in scoring and has arguably been the MVP of the league. His great hands and playmaking skills are always on display, but he's worked hard as well to round out his game and displays quality defensive value now too.
Malcolm Subban, G, Boston Bruins (Belleville-OHL): P.K.'s brother is a top-of-the-line goalie prospect who has been sensational the last two seasons. Some scouts thought he should have been on Team Canada last year. He's a very athletic and physically gifted goaltender who has -- over the last year or so -- quieted his game down in the net and refined his technique.
Tyler Wotherspoon, D, Calgary Flames (Portland-WHL): Wotherspoon was called a regular old "steady Eddie" by one scout I talked to, with that scout saying there's not a lot of flash to his game but he's good defensively and displays good character too. Wotherspoon has started to become more confident moving and carrying the puck, but that isn't his strength.
As always, if you have any questions on a player feel free to leave a comment below and I will get back to you.
A version of this story originally appeared at ESPN Insider .
Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
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