Mighty Duck WJC preview

By Kevin Forbes

Mighty Ducks fans will again be able to see some of the top prospects for Anaheim
play this winter at the World Junior Championships. There are fewer participating than in previous years, only two forwards, Ryan Getzlaf and Tim Brent.

Ryan Getzlaf, Calgary Hitmen, WHL
Getzlaf already has international experience, putting on the Team Canada
sweater to help lead the U-18 team to gold last year. He also was dominant
in the RE/MAX Canada/Russia Challenge for Team WHL with 2 goals and 2
assists in two games. Getzlaf will be counted on to provide offense and a
physical play for the team. Early projections put him on the first line with
Philadelphia prospect, Jeff Carter and Minnesota Wild forward Brent Burns.
Team Canada coach Mario Durocher has said that line could be starting most
periods and be counted on to set the pace for the game. In 22 games with
Calgary, Getzlaf has 11 goals and 23 assists for 34 points along with 54
penalty minutes.

Tim Brent, St. Michael’s Majors, OHL
Brent was the captain of Team OHL in the RE/MAX Canada/Russia Challenge and
served up a goal and an assist in two games. The St. Mike’s captain was also
named an alternate captain for Team Canada. He will be counted on to provide
leadership as well as play a strong two-way game. Although he excels in the
faceoff circle, he will no doubt play on the wing because of the glut of
centers that have been chosen and also due to his average size. Look for
Brent to play either on the third line or the fourth line. In 30 games for
the Majors, Brent has tallied 15 goals along with 18 assists for 33 points
to go with his 62 penalty minutes.

Corey Perry was expected to make a push to be on Team Canada as well,
but was one of the final cuts. He had 1 assist in two games for Team OHL in
the RE/MAX Challenge and was leading the OHL in scoring before the Team
Canada selection camp with 54 points (19 goals and 35 assists) in 29 games
for the dominant London Knights. However, in the selection camp, Perry’s
faults such as his lack of speed, and his soft play were too great for the
coaching staff to overlook. He showed his offensive talent, but didn’t
display as much of a complete game as was hoped for.

Ville Mantymaa was named a reserve defenseman for Team Finland. He is
one of the only right-handed shots from the blueline that Finland had to
chose from and if he plays due to an injury, expect him to get some powerplay.

Mark Popovic is another Ducks prospect who will be donning the colors
of Team Canada over Christmas. Popovic was loaned to Team Canada for the
Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland. He almost didn’t get the opportunity, as
injuries to Anaheim defensemen Keith Carney and Sandis Ozolinsh caused him
to be called up. Popovic however didn’t play a game with the big team and
was sent back in time to help Canada defend their Spengler Cup championship.
This is the second time that a Cincinnati Mighty Duck was loaned to a national team so far this season. Brian Gornick helped Team USA win the Deutschland Cup in November. In 26 games with Cincinnati, Popovic has a goal, an assist and 18 penalty minutes.

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