For those sent home, the final cuts to Team Canada’s world junior roster are brutal. But it’s a very tough team to crack and the brain trust behind the squad made sure the best players were available for competition and the result is a roster forged in fire.
The exciting and sometimes infuriating reality of the draft is how different teams view the same players. It’s common to hear a GM say “we didn’t expect him to be available when we picked,” and sometimes it’s true, but sometimes it’s just bluster. The other side of the coin is that some players are highly coveted by multiple teams, but only one can ultimately select him. One great example came in 2001, when Minnesota was picking right before Montreal.
Sometimes the stuff you hear in the hockey media boggles the mind. Once again, rumors are being propagated that Jack Eichel, the best American draft prospect in a generation, would leave Boston University after the world juniors to join the Quebec League’s Saint John Sea Dogs. I have some problems with this.
The CHL Top Prospects Game will be held Jan. 22 in St. Catharines, Ont., at the new home of the Ontario League’s Niagara IceDogs. Don Cherry and Bobby Orr will serve as coaches and yes, Connor McDavid made the cut. With only 40 roster spots available, not every CHLer up for the 2015 draft could be chosen and while there weren’t any huge omissions this year, some players certainly had strong cases for inclusion. So who are the stars and snubs for the game?
Team USA has won two of the past five world junior championships and based on the talent available to the team, another title soon wouldn’t be surprising. Part of the challenge will be replenishing the roster when the top recruits join the NHL early and it seems like a foregone conclusion that Jack Eichel will be in The Show next season, rather than chasing gold in Finland. Luckily for America, Auston Matthews isn’t eligible for the NHL draft until 2016 – and he may be just as good as Eichel.
The floundering Edmonton Oilers appear the favorites to win the 2015 NHL draft lottery and select OHL scoring sensation Connor McDavid as the first-overall pick. However, they could soon have some competition in the McDavid sweepstakes.
Luke DeCock of the Raleigh News & Observer notes the Carolina Hurricanes, basement dwellers of the Eastern Conference, lack the talent to compete with the league’s better teams. The Hurricanes last made the playoffs in 2009, and DeCock believes it’s time for a major roster overhaul, which includes improving their chances of landing McDavid. Read more
The world junior picture is beginning to clear up as the holiday classic nears. Sweden won’t get Andre Burakovsky from Washington and Canada won’t get Bo Horvat from Vancouver, but the biggest blow may be to the Russians. That’s because Nikita Zadorov has become too integral to the suddenly-hot Buffalo Sabres. The World Jr. A Challenge also has some great talent this year and it’s going on now, so let’s take a look at some of the young players we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.
At 5-foot-8, the deck was always going to be stacked against defenseman Joe Hicketts. But the standout for the Western League’s Victoria Royals is quickly showing the rest of the country what he can do at Team Canada’s world junior camp and the Detroit Red Wings free agent signing is already making the NHL look silly for passing on him at the 2014 draft.