Photo Copyright David Chan

I decided to take a longer look at the Team Canada selection camp roster and give my thoughts on it prior to the camp this coming weekend. I will take a stab at the cuts that may be made. One note, Canada can wait until December 25th to name it’s roster, so they may choose to cut some players after a few exhibition games overseas.

Goalies:

This is simple enough, they only selected two goalies for camp and I liked the choices. If they had added one more, or if there is an injury, I think I’d go for Winnipeg Jets prospect, Eric Comrie, next.

As for the possible starter, I’d probably go with Paterson but this is a difficult choice. Jake has actually struggled a bit in some recent games. One thing I think I would do regardless of who the starter winds up being, is give the backup the Slovakia game which is the day before the big USA game.

Defence

They selected eight for camp and I think they all make the team. With Griffin Reinhart needing to sit out a few games due to suspension, I don’t think any of the cuts will come from the back-end.  There is plenty of offense amongst the selected players. Derrick Pouliot, Matt Dumba, Josh Morrissey along with 2014 NHL Draft eligible Aaron Ekblad are gifted offensive players.  Good news for the power play this holiday season. I have stated many times before that I’m a big fan of Chris Bigras, he is underrated offensively as well.

The only selection amongst the defencemen that caught me by surprise was the selection that wasn’t made. I thought Florida Panthers prospect, Mike Matheson would be a lock to be at the selection camp at minimum. I wouldn’t have been at all surprised if he held down the #1 role on the blueline for this team. Matheson is listed at 6’2” 190 pounds and was selected 23rd overall in the 2012 NHL Draft. Regardless, he isn’t going to be in camp and other talented players were selected.

Forwards

The big name that was not picked for selection camp and was widely talked about across the twitterverse was Max Domi from the London Knights. I have seen Max have a few off games this season and Hockey Canada Head Scout, Ryan Jankowski, was at one of those games. My .02 cents, which counts for nothing, is that Domi would be at my camp. Max has too much offensive talent to leave at home in my opinion.

Moving on from Domi, there were plenty of great players who were selected for the camp. I’ll start with Bo Horvat who I saw as recently as last night.  Bo actually had a slow start (by his standards) this season but quickly played through it and has been very good since. Bo is a great faceoff man and can play in all situations. I expect him to log plenty of minutes for Brent Sutter. Other players I would include as locks are: Nic Petan, Connor McDavid, Scott Laughton, Sam Reinhart, Jonathan Drouin, (injured but I’ll be shocked if he isn’t ready) Anthony Mantha and Kerby Rychel.

Possible Cuts

There are a lot less cuts needed to be made this year than previous years and as always it’s difficult to pick them. It doesn’t make the cuts any less painful for the players who won’t compete for gold in Sweden. You hear it every holiday season, Team Canada is one of the most difficult teams to make, Period.

My first cut (in no particular order) is a player I have seen a lot of, including this season. It’s Josh Anderson of the London Knights. The recently signed Columbus Blue Jackets 4th round pick has scored 16 goals in 31 games this year. Pretty solid numbers for a kid who will play a much different role once he gets to the NHL. Anderson has impressed me this season doing the things he will need to do to thrive at the NHL level. Anderson has been a relentless fore-checker, a physical presence and a mainstay on the Knights penalty kill. I think Kerby Rychel gets to fill the power forward role at the expense of Anderson.

My next cut is the Toronto Maple Leafs 1st round pick from last June, Frédérik Gauthier. I really liked this player last year. He’s a huge kid, he’s a very smart player and solid defensively. As fate would have it, I actually spoke to one of our Quebec based scouts just recently about Gauthier and he told me he has struggled at times this season. I feel that when I match him up against some of the other players in camp he becomes an odd man out. We shall see.

It was hard enough picking two players to cut, but the third cut is extremely difficult. I picked a third player and I listed a best guess otherwise (lets face it, these are all best guesses).

My third player is the very talented and skilled Vancouver Canucks 1st round pick, Hunter Shinkaruk. I think many people might be of the mind that Shinkaruk was selected rather than Domi. That may be the case, but regardless he is my guess as the 3rd cut. Shinkaruk was scratched December 10th vs Calgary and is coming into Toronto off illness. When push comes to shove I feel like he doesn’t fit the Sutter mold despite the high end skill he possesses. Once again, very talented players get cut from this team.

If not Shinkaruk I’d probably guess Taylor Leier. See below for why I didn’t pick him as one of my initial three cuts.

Just a guess here, but I’m sure if you have read this far, a few of you might think I’m ‘loco’ by now (the latest word my 7 year old is using – she called me ‘loco’ as recently as this morning without reading this article but I digress). I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you expected me to name a Félix Girard or Taylor Leier as possible cuts. Well, I did too until I took a hard look at the roster and gave it a little more thought. My thinking was that those two players in particular were named to this selection camp for a reason. I’m guessing that Sutter has roles in mind for them and they have secured bottom 6 forward spots. I think a Hudon probably beat out a guy like Domi because Max wouldn’t be used as a PK guy in Malmo. I’m thinking Hudon will get PK time.

Great players get cut from this team every December. Ask Tyler Seguin, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and just last year we saw the Calgary Flames rookie, Sean Monahan, as a camp casualty, the list is long.  I feel bad for the cuts each year, but it truly is a feat just to make the selection camp, especially this year with the reduced invites.

My take on this team all begins with whether or not I’m correct about them keeping all eight defencemen. It worked out well for Pat Quinn and Team Canada in 2009 in Ottawa. Canada went with 8 defencemen and 12 forwards that year and won gold with a 5-1 win over Sweden. Unless I’m mistaken, Sweden also had 8 defencemen that year.

If I end up being wrong about Canada taking 8 defencemen, than I will take a stab that Chris Bigras is the D-Man cut and Hunter Shinkaruk would make the team.

It all begins Friday at the camp in Toronto.

 

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