Team previews for the 2018 World Juniors continue in Group A with Team Canada next on the docket. This is a team coming off of a shootout loss to the United States in the gold medal game of the 2017 World Junior Championship.
While the roster from 2017 does have many similarities to the roster of this year’s Team Canada, there are certain differences that could help the Canadians as well as absences that could cause problems.
But before diving into that, let’s take a look at the roster altogether.
First, we start with the goaltenders. Carter Hart was with Team Canada last year and is expected to be the starter for Canada. The Philadelphia Flyers draft pick and current Everett Silvertip split games with Connor Ingram last year. He will be joined by Colton Point.
Point has been dynamite with Colgate University this season. 16 games into the collegiate season he has a .938 SVS% and 2 shutouts while also lending a helping hand to Colgate’s 80% success rate on the penalty kill.
On defense, speed, puck movement, and offensive zone pressure come to mind when glancing over the names registered to Team Canada’s blueline.
While obviously great at transitioning the puck, the group of Jake Bean, Conor Timmins, Cal Foote, Cale Makar, Dante Fabbro, Kale Clague, and Victor Mete all bring hands and decent skating ability that will try to force the opposition to play a tighter game.
"I think we're pretty deep everywhere but for sure we're happy with the guys we have on the backend," said Ducharme. "The guys that are possibly coming back and Mete and all seven or eight other guys that are here are all deserving. They're in the mix of making the team." - Hockey Canada U20 Head Coach Dominique Ducharme to CTV News.
Finishing off with the forwards, Canada is once again looking to attack with smart, skilled players that will create beautiful plays in the offensive zone.
Michael McLeod stands out as the name to watch for on this Canadian group of forwards and is a name that could boom or bust at the World Juniors. He has a special hockey mind and can find places to put the puck that most would not think of, shooting or passing. The thing that could bring him down is lack of skill and chemistry with his wingers.
There are big named on the squad but some notable ones left off as well. Nick Suzuki, Jonathan Ang, and Cody Class were three big-”ish” names cut from Hockey Canada camp. A special shooter like Nick Suzuki could have done some great things with a power-playmaker like Michael McLeod.
Canada plays in consecutive days to open the tournament, one with Finland on Tuesday and another with Slovakia on Wednesday. On Friday Canada will face USA at New Era Field for the first outdoor World Junior Championship game and then they will close their preliminary round with a game against Denmark right after on Saturday. That game could be a potential upset with a tired Team Canada coming off of what is likely to be a physically demanding game against the Americans.
It is likely that Team Canada will be a threat and be successful this year at the 2018 World Junior Championship, but the question that they face is how much of a threat will be and how successful can the team be this year with their offensive lineup.