Brossard, QC, Canada (4E Sports) – Canada’s national junior hockey team may see action in the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship without some of its marquee players, putting its chances of ending a five-year gold medal drought in jeopardy.
Canada has some blue-chip prospects to help boost its chances but some of them may be tabbed by their respective NHL teams next season.
Among them are 2014 NHL Draft top pick Aaron Ekblad, Sam Reinhart, Curtis Lazar, Max Domi and Bo Horvat and Darnell Nurse.
“I don’t think it’s tough, but sometimes when you look at your lineup, you see guys like Reinhart and Ekblad and the other guys you realize when you’re on the ice with them how good they are,” coach Benoit Groulx said.
“We’re not the only team who might miss players at Christmas. Other teams are in the same boat. We have to deal with that. I still feel we have a good team without those guys if they’re not back with us,” he added.
The Canadians have great potential depth at the center position with Will Reinhart and Horvat but they simply don’t know what they’ll have come Christmas.
“I think that’s a Canadian problem that we have at any level,” said Canada head scout Ryan Jankowski. “Whether it’s the Olympics, the under-18s we just went through this week or under-20s.”
One of the players Canada should be able to count on is center Connor McDavid, the favorite to be the top pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. He played for Canada last year as a 16-year-old and will be playing for the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League this season.
Recently, Hockey Canada started a summer development camp in preparation for the event, which begins Dec. 26 in Montreal and Toronto. Around 41 players will join the camp in the hope of making the team that will represent the county in the WJC.
Canada has not won a medal at the WJC since winning bronze in 2012, which was the last time it hosted the tournament.