Connor McDavid has a target return date as Canada’s world junior camp opens

Jared Clinton
Connor McDavid (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

That sound you hear is an entire nation exhaling, as it appears Connor McDavid could be back in time to start the World Junior Championship.

The potential return date for McDavid is Dec. 21, when Canada faces off against Sweden in a pre-tournament game in Ottawa. Scott Salmond, Hockey Canada’s vice-president of hockey operations, told the Toronto Sun that the 17-year-old phenom is actually ahead of schedule.

McDavid had his cast removed this week and, for the first time since breaking his hand on Nov. 11, has been cleared to take part in non-contact practices. Arguably the brightest star in junior hockey, McDavid’s return gives the Canadian squad one of the most legitimate scoring threats in the tournament. Read more

The Lethbridge Hurricanes are a mess. Can Kris Versteeg save them?

Ryan Kennedy
Times are tough for Lethbridge (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

The Western League’s Lethbridge Hurricanes haven’t made the playoffs since 2009, when future NHLers Zach Boychuk, Dwight King, Luca Sbisa and Carter Ashton propelled the Alberta squad to the second round. Since that cohort, only two players have even been drafted by NHL teams – and the latest one now plays for Brandon after a trade request.

But Minnesota pick Reid Duke wasn’t the first to ask out of Lethbridge and the exodus away from the Hurricanes lately has been stunning. Unfortunately, hope for the franchise may still be almost a year away.

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Behemoth 2015 prospect Jordan Greenway leads off The Hot List

Jordan Greenway (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

World junior camps are approaching and some teams are getting excellent news already. Most recently, Canada found out that New York Rangers rookie Anthony Duclair will be loaned out, giving the host nation another speedy and dangerous offensive weapon in its arsenal. Finland must be happy that Dallas gave its blessing for Julius Honka to return, while Washington’s Andre Burakovsky is still a wait-and-see for Sweden. In the meantime, here are some of the other top prospects making noise in the hockey world.

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Calgary Hitmen fans threw more than 25,000 teddy bears on the ice Sunday

Ryan Kennedy
Calgary's Radel Fazleev (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

It’s an annual tradition that brings out the best in hockey fans and they’re particularly good at it in Calgary. The Western League’s Hitmen held their 20th teddy bear toss on Sunday and the result was 25,214 stuffed animals being launched onto the ice, all of which were to be donated to charity. Philadelphia Flyers prospect Radel Fazleev scored 98 seconds into the game to begin the barrage; here’s the aftermath:

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Junior goalie Storm Phaneuf suspended nine games for kicking player with skate

Jared Clinton
Storm Phaneuf featured

The Quebec League announced yesterday that Chicoutimi Sagueneens goaltender Storm Phaneuf has been suspended for a total of nine games after kicking an opponent in the chest.

Phaneuf – no relation to Dion, if you were wondering – kicked an opponent during a Nov. 30 contest against the Drummondville Voltigeurs. The kick struck the felled Voltigeur in the chest: Read more

Jack Eichel headlines USA world junior selection camp roster

Jack Eichel (No. 9) makes Team USA an instant contender at the 2015 world juniors.(Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

It was no surprise when Connor McDavid cracked Canada’s World Junior Championship selection camp roster, announced yesterday. It was even less surprising when Jack Eichel made the U.S. camp roster. Both are viewed as neck-and-neck to go first overall in the 2015 NHL draft, and if McDavid could make his nation’s squad with a broken hand, a healthy Eichel was a lock. Especially with the way he’s torn up the NCAA ranks as a freshman with Boston University.

Fuelled by the U.S. National Team Development Program’s perpetual harvest of great prospects, the Yankees are borderline co-favorites in this year’s tournament. Their 30-man camp roster includes 24 players drafted to NHL teams. The complete list:

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Team Canada hopes to get it ‘right’ in 2015 with some NHL help

Ken Campbell
Anthony Duclair (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

Unless Canada’s team for the World Junior Championship gets a couple of big assists from the NHL it is going to be very short on two things – Quebec-born players and right wingers. Both of those could get a boost if Anthony Duclair is released to play by the New York Rangers, but it likely means players will be moving around.

One player who is invited and is expected to play is Ho-Sang’s midget hockey linemate, Connor McDavid, who has been out with a broken hand. McDavid has his next evaluation on Dec. 9 and the Canadian team will know better then about his availability. He’s expected to be ready to play when Canada opens the tournament Dec. 26, but even if he’s not, the team can carry one extra player and put him on the roster anytime before the semifinal, which it intends to do.

It also means that those who evaluate players for Team Canada, for whatever reason, don’t want anything to do with Josh Ho-Sang of the Niagara IceDogs, a first-round pick of the New York Islanders last June. Despite the fact that Ho-Sang has 26 points in 18 games in the Ontario League this season and that only two natural right wingers – Jake Virtanen and Nick Baptiste – were invited to the final camp, Ho-Sang was not invited.

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Ontario League player accidentally runs kid over during pregame warmups

Jared Clinton
Kid Clotheslined Featured

On Friday night, during the pregame skate of an Ontario League contest, a minor hockey player had been chosen to rip around the ice with the Oshawa Generals. All was going well until he found the arm of the Generals players.

The video, which we first saw on Yahoo!’s Buzzing The Net, shows that the poor kid didn’t even stand a chance. Read more