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2020 World Junior Hockey Championship: Team Canada preview & roster

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Canada is looking to make it past the quarter-finals this year. With this team, they stand a pretty good chance.

Canada v Slovakia: Exhibition - 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images

They may have breezed through the preliminary round, but Team Canada had a disappointing early exit from the 2019 World Junior Hockey Championship. There were only 47 seconds left in the third period when Finland tied it up and pushed the game to overtime. It was there that Canada lost 2-1 in the knockout stage.

It was a bit of a shock to see Canada booted out so early. They hold the highest number of medals (31) and gold medals (17) in the tournament’s history.

This year, they’ll be in grouped together with long-time rivals the United States and Russia, both of whom made it to the semifinals last year with Russia grabbing bronze and USA taking home silver.

Canada didn’t meet either of those adversaries during last year’s tournament, but this year they’ll be facing USA right out of the gate when the tournament starts on Boxing Day.

Team Canada final roster

# Player Position League Current team (NHL)
# Player Position League Current team (NHL)
1 Nico Daws G OHL Guelph Storm (2020 Draft)
30 Joel Hofer G WHL Portland Winterhawks (STL)
31 Olivier Rodrigue G QMJHL Moncton Wildcats (EDM)
3 Calen Addison D WHL Lethbridge Hurricanes (PIT)
2 Kevin Bahl D OHL Ottawa 67's (ARI)
5 Jacob Bernard-Docker D NCAA Univ. of North Dakota (OTT)
4 Bowen Byram D WHL Vacouver Giants (COL)
6 Jamie Drysdale D OHL Erie Otters (2020 Draft)
14 Jared McIsaac D QMJHL Halifax Mooseheads (DET)
24 Ty Smith D WHL Spokane Chiefs (NJD)
19 Quinton Byfield F OHL Sudbury Wolves (2020 Draft)
22 Dylan Cozens F WHL Lethbridge Hurricanes (BUF)
18 Ty Dellandrea F OHL Flint Firebirds (DAL)
25 Aidan Dudas F OHL Owen Sound Attack (LAK)
29 Nolan Foote F WHL Kelowna Rockets (TBL)
8 Liam Foudy F OHL London Knights (CBJ)
27 Barrett Hayton F NHL Arizona Coyotes
11 Alexis Lafreniere F QMJHL Rimouski Océanic (2020 Draft)
10 Raphael Lavoie F QMJHL Halifax Mooseheads (EDM)
17 Connor McMichael F OHL London Knights (WSH)
20 Dawson Mercer F QMJHL Drummondville Voltigeurs (2020 Draft)
16 Akil Thomas F OHL Niagara IceDogs (LAK)
9 Joe Veleno F AHL Grand Rapids Griffins (DET)

Strengths

This team looks to have every area covered, from down the middle, to the blue line, and all they way to the netminders. But their talented group of forwards has to be their biggest strength. The roster includes 10 first-round selections and the predicted top two 2020 NHL Draft picks — Alexis Lafrenière and Quinton Byfield.

Lafreniere is leading the QMJHL with 70 points in 32 games while Byfield is third on the OHL leaderboard with 57 (22G, 35A) in 30 games. Byfield also took home the silver medal during this year’s Hlinka Gretzky Cup, tallying a point per game during the tournament.

Not to mention Dylan Cozens, who currently has 46 points (20G, 26A) with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and is skilled enough to play both centre and wing. The depth of the forward corps is crazy impressive.

Weaknesses

This team is stacked and are in it to win it, so there aren’t a lot of weaknesses to choose from. The only concern is that it looks like it will be a game-time decision on who the starting goaltender will be. It’s the most important position and will remain a question mark right up until the round-robin games have concluded.

All three goaltenders have impressive records, so the choice shouldn’t make or break the team. Though there are three netminders on the roster, the coin toss will probably be between Joel Hofer, who’s leading WHL goaltenders with his 20-4-2 record, 1.81 goals-against average, .937 save percentage, and four shutouts so far this season, and Nico Daws, who has a 13-3-4 record in the OHL, a 2.06 GAA and .939 save percentage.

During Sunday’s practice, the team was down to just one goalie — and it was neither of these guys. It was up to Oliver Rodrigue to man the net after Hofer was stung by a shot to the glove and Daws left early with an undisclosed injury. What was a small question mark for the team a few days ago, is becoming the biggest one.

X-Factor

Lafrenière is one of five returning players from last year’s roster, but the only returning forward. At 18 years old, he’ll be looked upon to not only provide excellent offence, but also leadership to the team. He’s currently leading the QMJHL in points (70) and assists (47). During his rookie season, he scored 42 goals, the most goals scored by a rookie since some kid named Sidney Crosby in 2004. He’s predicted to be the top prospect eligible for the 2020 NHL Draft, ranked number one by Elite Prospects, Hockey Prospect, McKeens Hockey, and Future Considerations.

Last year, Lafrenière was the youngest on Team Canada’s roster and scored his only goal in Canada’s 5-1 win over the Czech Republic. He’ll be hoping to take the team a little further into the competition so he can make more of an impact this year.