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December 17, 2010
World Junior Hockey Championship
by Corey Pronman
Team Canada has announced its 22-man roster for the upcoming IIHF World Under 20 Championship, commonly known as the World Junior Hockey Championship (WJHC). Here are some brief notes on every player that will take part in the tournament. As you will see below, Canada opted to bring a lot of physical players and will be attempting to win games in the corners and the slot area.
Forwards Name NHL Team Drafted Carter Ashton Tampa Bay 1st round, 29th overall in 2009 Casey Cizikas NY Islanders 4th round, 92nd overall in 2009 Brett Connolly Tampa Bay 1st round, 6th overall in 2010 Sean Couturier N/A Eligible in 2011 Cody Eakin Washington 3rd round, 85th overall in 2009 Marcus Foligno Buffalo 4th round, 104th overall in 2009 Curtis Hamilton Edmonton 2nd round, 48th overall in 2010 Quinton Howden Florida 1st round, 25th overall in 2010 Ryan Johansen Columbus 1st round, 4th overall in 2010 Zach Kassian Buffalo 1st round, 13th overall in 2009 Louis Leblanc Montreal 1st round, 18th overall in 2009 Brayden Schenn Los Angeles 1st round, 5th overall in 2009 Jaden Schwartz St. Louis 1st round, 14th overall in n2010
Ashton is a big guy who plays a power forward game and also is an above average skater. He will likely be a lower line guy for Canada as he doesnt have the greatest offensive ceiling. He can still contribute somewhat though and get goals by going to the net and using his body in the high percentage areas. Ashton is still raw and while he may be able to beat players physically at the Junior level, his hockey sense is a concern both now and especially going forward.
Cizikas has had a difficult Junior career, but he is looking to put an exclamation mark on it as he nears the end. Casey is an energy forward who will kill penalties, go to the physical areas and be a hustler on every play. His skating is still fringe and will hamper him in his pro aspirations, but for Canada he will be a good sparkplug guy.
Connolly was one of the top prospects going into the 2010 Entry Draft, and while he arguably was a top three talent in that draft class, a hip injury lowered his stock to the 6th spot for Tampa. Brett is a very talented goal scorer and if there is one go-to guy offensively for Canada, Connolly may be that guy. His skill set is very well-rounded with above average hockey sense, as well as the ability to carry the puck up-ice and stickhandle in traffic.
Couturier is one of the top 2011 Draft prospects, who has been discussed as a potential top three pick. Sean doesnt have any true plus-plus tool, but hes a very well-rounded prospect who is much more physically gifted than the average prospect in this tournament. He may be draft eligible, but hes not that young compared to the pool of players, as his 18th birthday just passed on December 7th. With the lack of firepower on this team, Couturier should be given prime offensive minutes.
Eakin is a skilled little guy with some sandpaper to his game. He displays above average skating and puck skills. Hes advanced defensively and shows willingness to backcheck and retrieve the puck along the walls. Hes just one of the many scrappy guys in this Canadian forward corps. Due to a good but not great offensive skill set as well as questionable physical tools, his NHL future is hard to project, but he will be a contributor for Canada.
I wasnt a big fan of seeing Foligno staying on. Hes a good grinder but I dont see enough valuable attributes from him as a player to bring to the table. Hes a fringe skater if even that, and his hockey sense isnt that good. Canada has enough grinders that one like Foligno may be pressed for ice time even as a 91 birthdate.
After being sidelined for the majority of last season with a broken collarbone, Hamilton has returned with a vengeance this year in the WHL, putting up much larger offensive numbers than he has in the past. His finesse skills are all fringe-average at best, but he is a smart forward who works hard and utilizes his big body well.
Howden will likely slide into a lower role for Team Canada as a crash and bang type of player. While he has shown proficiency in the WHL as a goal scorer, hes probably a year away from being used in a main scoring role in a U-20 tournament. Hes a good skater who works hard and can be a useful player on the penalty kill.
Ryan was a bit of an overdraft back in June, but theres no doubting his physical and playmaking skills. Hes a good possession player who can protect the puck as well as distribute it. Despite his 4th overall selection, dont expect any sort of electric skill display, but expect a very effective and proficient game from Johansen in Canadas top six.
Zack was much maligned last year after a couple of off-ice incidents, but on the ice he is a feared power forward. While only through 25 games, he has cut down on the excessive penalties this year which is a good sign, as Kassian can contribute as a goal scorer when hes not in the box. His frame is pro-ready and he should dominate the opposition physically. He isnt overly toolsy, but where he is with his physical development, his skills should be enough to suffice.
Leblanc is another solid two-way forward amongst this group who has NHL top six potential and should be used in a scoring role in the tournament. Leblanc displays solid skating, puck skills and shot tools with a willingness to grind and play defense. Leblanc doesnt have any sort of glaring flaw in his game, but isnt really a game breaker either.
After a long stint playing professional hockey between the NHL and AHL, Brayden is ready to be one of Canadas key players. Without any major hole in his game other than his skating, Brayden can contribute in just about every aspect of the game. There is a reason he was a lottery pickhe is very skilled, advanced, and a relentless worker.
A prospect I believe is still underrated, even after torching the USHL in his draft season, Jaden is lighting up the NCAA. Hes a smaller forward with fringe skating ability, but his other tools are plus across the board. Hes a dangerous puck handler who always seems to be in the right place at the right time, and despite his frame, is a fearless battler.
Defense Name NHL Team Drafted Tyson Barrie Colorado 3rd round, 64th overall in 2009 Jared Cowen Ottawa 1st round, 9th overall in 2009 Calvin de Haan NY Islanders 1st round, 12th overall in 2009 Simon Depres Pittsburgh 1st round, 30th overall in 2009 Ryan Ellis Nashville 1st round, 11th overall in 2009 Erik Gudbranson Florida 1st round, 3rd overall in 2010 Dylan Olsen Chicago 1st round, 28th overall in 2009
The only non-first round pick amongst this defense corps, Barrie makes his living by being a very smart player on the ice. One pro scout Ive talked to described his hockey sense as plus-plus. He has logged sometimes up to 30 minutes a night for Kelowna while putting up big scoring numbers. His skating used to be fringe, but hes improved to the point where its around pro level.
The physically-gifted Cowen was held back last year recovering from a knee injury, but this year he has returned to his previous form, and with his improved skating, he is starting to become a significant contributor on offense. Cowen should log big minutes for Canada and could be used on the second power play unit.
Calvin de Haan
A plus puck mover and thinker, Calvin enters his second go-around in this tournament as a player who should be a mainstay on the top four and on the first power play unit. De Haan is very calm with the puck and can consistently create plays. But while his acceleration is fringe and while he doesnt have a good shot to be a multiple weapon threat from the point, hes such a good thinker on the ice that he is always able to find and create passing lanes.
Despres has the pure skill set that once made him considered a top 15 talent in the 2009 Draft. He fell off that projection a bit due to inconsistency in his play and in the defensive zone. Despres, though, has great natural tools with a plus frame and plus skating ability. His puck skills have also shown improvement over the last few seasons. Hes the kind of player who when hes on can be a force, but hes not always on.
A three-time member of this team, people should be quite familiar with the smallish defender. Ellis has a true plus-plus shot from the point, maybe one of the best shots not in the NHL. Ellis has proven time and time again at the Junior level that he can be an offensive force, even if he isnt an above average skater. He still has holes in his defensive and physical game, but hes such a dangerous power play contributor that youre willing to live with it.
While Gudbranson didnt have the best camp for Team Canada, there is no denying the natural tools the 3rd overall pick in the 2010 draft possesses. He has a plus physical game already at the age of 18 and while he may never be a first pairing point producer, he has a very hard slapper combined with solid puck skills making him at least a partial contributor offensively.
Olsen is a steady defender who isnt a standout on this squad but who can hold his own somewhere on the third pairing for Canada. Hes got good hands, and while his skating is below pro-average, hes shown the offensive sense to be able to contribute in that area while logging significant defensive minutes in the NCAA.
Goaltenders Name NHL Team Drafted Olivier Roy Edmonton 5th round, 113th overall in 2009 Mark Visentin Phoenix 1st round, 27th overall in 2010
My favorite to be Canadas starting goalie, Roy is one of the more underrated goalie prospects in the league. He is an athletic goalie with fine lateral movement and great reflexes. The main knocks on Roy have been his size and that his technique has not always been the sharpest, but thats to be expected of a 19 year old goalie who has only played Major Junior. The save percentage numbers hes posted in the QMJHL arent that great, but if Canada wants a game-changer, Roy gives them that chance more so than Visentin.
In a draft that saw Ryan Johansen go fourth, Dylan McIlrath 10th and Cam Fowler 13th, Mark Visentin going 27th overall in the 2010 Entry Draft may have been the most surprising pick of that first round. Mark has justified the pick so far, as he has a .921 save percentage in the OHL through 21 games this season. His game is very stagnantVisentin tries not to move around and instead relies on proper positioning to keep the puck out. His lack of plus athletic tools makes his ceiling projection not that favorable, but he can be a steady guy between the pipes for Canada.
Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus. You can contact Corey by clicking here or click here to see Corey's other articles.
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