A team composed of 22 Canadian players from the OHL who are
eligible to compete in the World Junior tournament is all set to play two games
against a team from Russia on November 25th and 29th.
Three players who played for Team Canada last year, forwards
Jeff Carter (PHI), Mike Richards (PHI), and Anthony Stewart (FLA)
have been named. All three players were NHL first round picks in the 2003 Entry
Draft and were big contributors to the silver medal performance of Team Canada
This series represents one last opportunity for players to
showcase their talent before invites are issued for Team Canada tryouts for the
World Junior Tournament. The team consists of 15 NHL drafted players, six
players eligible for the 2005 NHL draft and one who is eligible for the 2006
NHL Draft. Here is a look at who is on the team and who may get an invite to
the Team Canada camp.
The goalies for Team Ontario are Ryan Munce (LA) and David
Shantz (FLA). In recent years, the goaltending position has been dominated
by the Province of Quebec, but this year the No. 1 spot may be wide open. Munce
is 19 and has played for Team Canada in the Under 18 program in the past and
took home a gold medal.
Shantz is younger at 18, and plays great under pressure. Two
seasons ago he led Thorold to a Junior B title, before bowing out in seven
games in the Sutherland Cup, which is a tournament between the three champions
of the Junior B leagues in Ontario. Last season he led Mississauga to the OHL
final where they were swept by Guelph.
The defense for Team Canada at the last two Under 18
championships was made up mostly from players from the WHL, so one should
expect that this version of Team Canada will have a heavy Western flavor, but
there are some players from Ontario who may get an invite to camp.
Mississauga Ice Dog defenseman Kyle Quincey (DET) has
a nice blend of size, skating, and hockey sense that should warrant him an
invite to the camp. The left-handed shot plays a strong two-way game and logs a
lot of minutes for Mississauga. He makes a good first pass and can lug the puck
when necessary. He will make life miserable for forwards who want to spend time
around his net as he is more than willing to use his 6’2, 210-pound frame to
move bodies. He played for Team Ontario in the 2001-2002 Under 17 tournament
and took home a bronze medal. Quincey is 19, so this is his last chance to play
in the World Juniors.
A former teammate of Quincey, 19-year-old Danny Syvret has
a good shot at joining him at the camp. Syvret plays huge minutes on a strong
London Knights team and is very effective at moving the puck and plays a smart
game in his own zone. He has spent most
of the season so far at or near the top for plus/minus and points among
defensemen. Syvret played for Team Ontario in the 2001-02 Under 17 tournament.
He attended the 2004 summer evaluation camp for Team Canada. Syvret has had a
stellar season so far; he has 27 points in 21 games and leads the league in
plus/minus at +30.
Marc Staal of the Sudbury Wolves is on Team
Ontario, but the 17-year-old has to be considered a long shot to get invited to
WJC camp this year. Remember the name though, as the younger brother of Eric
Staal he may be on the team next year. He was selected second overall in
the 2003 OHL draft by the Wolves and logged a lot of minutes last year as a
rookie. Staal at 6’2 and 190 pounds has good size and skates well, with no
major flaws in his game. Central Scouting ranked him the seventh best skater in
Ontario in their preliminary rankings for the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.
Ryan Parent of the Guelph Storm is another
17-year-old being groomed for future WJC camps. Parent was broken in slowly
last year on a veteran team that went to the Memorial Cup, but he has really
stepped it up this year on a team that was hit hard by graduation but has
remained competitive. Parent plays a well-rounded game and has a nice package
of physical play, good skating, and decent puck skills. Central Scouting ranked
Parent the fourth best skater in the OHL in their preliminary rankings for the
2005 NHL draft. He currently leads his team in plus/minus.
Nathan McIver (VAN) is the captain of the St.
Michael’s Majors. He is a 19-year-old physical defender who loves to throw big
hits and mix it up in the corners. He skates well enough and has decent poise
with the puck, but is a definitely a defensive banger. Playing in his
undersized home arena allows him to be even more physical as the rink is 20
feet shorter and 5 feet narrower than the standard arena.
Will Colbert (OTT) is a big physical defenseman
out of the Ottawa 67s program. The 67s have been a pumping out professional
defensemen for quite some time and Colbert hopes to keep the tradition going.
Colbert is 18 years old and stands at 6’3 and comes in at 210 pounds. The stay
at home defenseman is up against a lot of tough competition to get an invite
this year, and may have a better shot next season.
Jordan Smith (ANA) of the Sault Ste. Marie
Greyhounds is another defensive defenseman hoping to crack Team Canada. Smith
regularly draws the assignments of shutting down the opposing teams’ top lines
and loves to play physical against his opponents. Smith is 6’2 and 205 pounds
and is no stranger to the penalty box. Smith played on the Team Ontario team
that won the bronze in the Under 17 tournament in 2001-02.
While Ontario may have only a few players invited to WJC
camp in the goaltending and defense spots, they should have several forwards
who get the call. They have several young forwards who will be heard from in
future tournaments and will learn from this valuable international experience.
Mike Richards is a shoo-in to get an invite to the main camp
and is probably in the running to be one of the captains for Team Canada. The
Kitchener Ranger center is a fierce competitor who can fill a number of roles
for the team. The Canadian coaching staff always welcomes players with his
versatility. He can handle the puck, he plays a strong defensive game and he
will finish his checks. Richards had 89 points in 58 games last season. He has
had a slower start to this season, scoring 21 points in his first 18 games.
Jeff Carter is another shoo-in to be invited to the main
camp and will likely be on the top two lines for Team Canada. Many people
consider him as the best NHL prospect in the OHL. Carter has the complete
package: size, skill, skating and the ability to score from long range or in
close. The Flyers took a big gamble in signing neither him nor Richards before
the OHL season began and it may save them money if the collective bargaining
agreement is ever settled, but it could also cost them the rights to these two
elite prospects. Carter had 66 points in 57 games last season on a weak
Greyhound team. This season he has collected 26 points in his first 18 games.
Anthony Stewart showed a lot of skill to the world at the
tournament last year including an eye-popping goal in the gold medal game when
he blazed down the wing outskating the American defender. Stewart is always a
force along the boards and in front of the net but the big man surprised many
at how he could move in the big ice surfaces of Europe. In the smaller ice
surfaces in North Dakota this year, Stewart will be very tough for European
defensemen to handle as he will be on them that much sooner. At 6’2 and 228
pounds, Stewart is virtually unmovable in front of the net and with a good set
of hands to go along with his size, look for him to be a key component of the
Canadian power play. Stewart tallied 58 points in 53 games last season with
Kingston. He has 28 points in his first 21 games this season.
Corey Perry (ANA) had the dubious distinction
of being the last forward cut from WJC camp last season. Perry had some
question marks about his skating and whether he could adapt to the high tempo
short shifts that Canada loves. These factors outweighed a strong camp in which
he had no trouble contributing lots of offense. This season Perry is on fire
and is well on his way to being named the OHL player of the year and perhaps
the CHL player of the year. He has scored a point in every game except once
this season and has a big lead in the OHL scoring race. He is a superb puck
handler, can mesmerize defenders and does a great toe drag. If Perry isn’t good
enough to play on the top two lines for Team Canada this year, then they will
have one extremely strong team. Perry finished second in scoring in the OHL
last season with 113 points in 66 games. He has 51 points in 21 games this
season and with a plus/minus rating of + 24 he is ranked second only to
teammate Syrvet in the league.
Dave Bolland (CHI) could join some of his
Knights teammates at the main camp. Bolland is only 18, but has many attributes
that could give him a look. First he is versatile, he plays mainly center, but
on a team that constantly changes line combinations, he sees time on left wing
and occasionally right wing. Second, the right-handed shot is a strong skater,
always important for international hockey. He isn’t afraid to get his nose
dirty in the corners, so he could be used on either the checking line or the
energy line for Team Canada, or even as the 13th forward who fills
in holes as the tournament progresses. Bolland has a heavy shot and is
developing quite the wicked one timer. Bolland attended the 2004 evaluation
camp for Team Canada in the summer. He is an excellent penalty killer and has
good hockey sense. Bolland had 67 points in 65 games last year. He has 23
points in the first 21 games this season.
Dylan Hunter (BUF) is the fourth London Knight
on Team Ontario. Hunter played center and left wing last season but is mostly
playing center this year. In even strength situations, he has played the
majority of his time with Perry and the two players have developed quite the
chemistry. Hunter excels on the power play and is one of the quarterbacks of
the Knights feared half board offense that has led the league in power play
efficiency for the last two seasons. Hunter is a highly skilled passer and is a
good stick handler but his choppy skating will likely prevent him from
receiving an invite to the main camp. Hunter had 79 points in 64 games last
season and has 37 points in 21 games so far this season.
Michael Blunden of the Erie Otters is a big right
winger who will be looking to audition for the energy line for Team Canada.
Central Scouting ranked the 18-year-old as the 12th best skater in
Ontario for the 2005 NHL Draft. Blunden would have to be considered a long shot
for getting an invite to WJC camp for this season, but could be in the mix next
year. He scored 39 points in 52 games last season and has 14 points in 20 games
Wojtek Wolski (COL) is making his second
appearance in the Canada/Russia challenge series and the 18-year-old left
winger has a good chance of getting an invite to the main camp this season. If
he does get invited to the main camp, Wolski may face the same challenge that
Perry did last season; he has to show that he can play on the top two lines
because he is considered an offensive player. Wolski is a good skater and puck
handler who creates a lot of offensive chances but is not very physical along
the boards. Wolski had 70 points in 66 games last season and in 22 games this
season he has collected 25 points.
B.J. Crombeen (DAL) of the Barrie Colts will be
looking to earn a spot on the checking or energy lines for Team Canada if he
gets an invite to the main camp. The right winger has decent size at 6’2 and
210 pounds and has played for Team Canada at the Under 18 tournament. Crombeen
had 50 points in 62 games last season and 12 points in his first 18 games this
Benoit Pouliot of the Sudbury Wolves is having a
fantastic rookie season in the OHL after playing only 4 games and scoring 4
points last year. Central Scouting ranked him the best skater in the OHL in
their preliminary rankings for the 2005 NHL Draft. Given his age, it would be a
long shot to see him invited to the main camp but he should be in the mix over
the next two seasons. The rookie has tallied 22 points in 20 games this season.
Cody Bass of the Mississauga IceDogs is a
smallish center who will be vying to show off his defensive skills against the
Russians in the hopes to earn the right to audition for the checking center
role with Team Canada. He was the fifth pick overall in the 2003 OHL draft and
the 17-year-old was ranked 14th in the OHL in the preliminary
rankings by Central Scouting for the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Bass had 10 points
in 61 games last year. He has basically matched his production from last season
with 9 points in 20 games.
Bryan Little of the Barrie Colts is another
speedy smallish center who at 17, has to be considered a long shot for Team
Canada this season. Little posted a very impressive 58 points in 64 games as a
rookie last year. Born on November 12, 1987, Little is eligible for the 2006
NHL Draft. He played a huge role in leading Team Ontario to a gold medal
performance last year at the Under 17 Tournament, with his line scoring 10
goals in just five games. Little is averaging a point a game this season in 21
Brad Richardson (COL) is a hard-working shifty center
with the Owen Sound Attack who spent the majority of last season on the
sidelines with an injury. Richardson is very creative with the puck, but has an
uphill battle ahead of him to make Team Canada on a roster that will be loaded
with centers. Richardson is 19, so this is his last chance to earn a spot with
Team Canada and a good performance in this series may earn him a tryout.
Richardson had 16 points in 15 games last season and has 22 points in 21 games
this season so far.
Copyright 2004 Hockey’s Future. Do not duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.