What to Make of Team Canada

Here is everything you need to know about the 2018-19 Canadian World Junior team who is set to defend their Gold Medal in Vancouver.

Forwards

Max Comtois (ANA), that is your Captain, best two-way Forward and the ONLY returning player on this years World Junior team. Comtois became the only returnee when Alex Formenton (OTT) went down in an exhibition game against the CIS All-Stars. Now there are players who were cut from last years team. Cody Glass (VGK) was one of the final cuts last year and he is Canada’s top centre, think Mark Scheifele. Nick Suzuki (MTL) was also cut and he’s more of a 2 way forward. The top 6 is rounded out with Owen Tippett (FLA) who shoots the puck just as good as anybody else in the tournament. Jaret Anderson-Dolan (LAK) who played NHL games at the start of the year before being returned to Spokane and breaking his wrist, he’s another 200 foot player and will wear an A. Brett Leason (2019) has been passed over twice in the NHL but a point in every game except his final one for the Prince Albert Raiders earned him a spot on this team, he’s a big winger with good straight ahead speed. Morgan Frost (PHI) has dominated the OHL for a year and a half along with Sault Ste Marie teammate Barret Hayton (ARI) have shown good chemistry as a checking line who can provide offence. Jack Studnicka (BOS) is a natural centre but has fit well. The 4th line consists of Joe Veleno (DET) who was on as big of tear in the QMJHL as anybody then Mackenzie Entwistle (CHI) and Shane Bowers (COL) who seem to be the 11th and 12th option up front. The 13th forward is Alexis Lafreniere (2020) who is either in the top 6 or not playing. His time to shine will be next year.

Defense

There is no Thomas Chabot this year which means this will be a get it done by committee. Evan Bouchard (EDM) seems to be the #1 defensemen is as steady as they come, smart and not flash. Noah Dobson (NYI) is a 2000 born and will be thrown into the fire right away, has a Memorial Cup under his belt. Josh Brook (MTL) is a smooth skater who plays big minutes with Head Coach Tim Hunter in Moose Jaw so there is familiarity. Ty Smith (NJD) is an undersized defensemen who controls the play and is a smart player. Ian Mitchell (CHI) is undersized like Smith but is more of a stay at home player. Markus Phillips (LAK) only has 10 points in Owen Sound this year which is a rare stat line to see for a Canadian player, he should be a top penalty killer. Jared McIsaac (DET) is a 7th defensemen on a get it done by committee defense doesn’t mean much. Makes a good first pass and isn’t flashy.

Goalies

Mikey Dipietro (VAN) will be playing in his future backyard and much has been made of him being cut last year. He’s looked quite shaky in pre tournament, also undersized. Ian Scott (TOR) has been the best Goaltender in the CHL by far on the best team, the 6’4 Leafs prospect let in a bad one against Finland but he’s my pick to start.

So there is the team. There is no Hughes, Necas, Zadina, Tolvanen headliner up front for this team. All the other top teams have headliners who play against tougher pro competition in North America or Europe. I believe this tournament is far more entertaining when there is 5 or 6 good teams and Canada isn’t a powerhouse. They’re in tough this year but we’re all looking forward to it.

Photo credit – Chad Hipolito/Canadian Press

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