Team Canada has announced its final roster for the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships in Ufa, Russia, including three of the Boston Bruins' top prospects. Dougie Hamilton, Anthony Camara and Malcolm Subban could play a major role in returning gold to Canada.
Canada's selection camp was attended by 37 players in Calgary, Alberta, from Dec. 10 to 13. Only 23 players survived coach Steve Spott's final cut. The final roster is available here, courtesy of HockeyCanada.ca.
Defenseman Dougie Hamilton is among six returnees from the team that won bronze last winter. Hamilton was unanimously considered a lock, based on his dazzling resume. The Bruins' 2011 first-round pick currently leads all OHL defensemen in points for the second straight season with 41 points in 32 games.
Hamilton was a bright spot for Canada on its disappointing third-place run at the 2012 World Juniors, producing six points in six games with a plus-seven rating. Other veterans include big names like Jonathan Huberdeau, Ryan Strome and captain Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Canada faces a potential nightmare considering several members of the dream team could be recalled for NHL training camps if the lockout ends in the immediate future. As of Dec. 12, only four teams have guaranteed that they would not recall their prospects if they were named to the Canadian team, according to McKenzie.
The Bruins have yet to provide assurance that Hamilton will be available to play. The NHL's potential Jan. 1 start date comes directly in the middle of the proceedings in Russia, which could cost Canada Hamilton's services for the entire tournament. Such a loss would severely hurt the team's medal chances.
Boston's 2012 first-round pick, Malcolm Subban, entered camp as the projected starting goaltender, but his stock may have taken a hit in Calgary.
A couple of superb shootout stops, including one against fellow Bruins prospect Anthony Camara, were among the highlights of Subban's camp, but he will leave Calgary with a bad taste in his mouth after a meltdown in an exhibition against the University of Alberta.
Subban gave up three goals on the first seven shots he faced in the scrimmage, which could cost him the starting job. Subban said the following about his lackluster performance (via NHL.com):
I felt I was sleeping a bit in the first [period], I didn't know what to expect and they came out pretty hard. I thought I bounced back pretty well after that. I've had my ups and downs in camp and have to be more consistent.
Subban has been spectacular for the OHL's Belleville Bulls this season. He is 15-7-3 with a 2.17 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage, despite playing behind one of the league's worst offenses. His excellent track record seems to have earned him the benefit of the doubt.
Subban has until Canada's tournament opener against Germany on Dec. 26 to prove that he is Canada's best bet for gold. Jordan Binnington and Jake Paterson will provide stiff competition throughout preparations for the tournament.
Red Line Report's Kirk Luedeke believes Subban is still the favorite to occupy Canada's crease, but he will be walking a tight rope with Binnington on hand to take over at the first sign of trouble.
Of the Bruins contingent invited to camp, Anthony Camara was considered the least likely to accompany the team to Russia. However, a strong camp left no doubt that the power forward deserved a roster spot.
Camara's offensive game has come alive this season. The hard-hitting forward ranks fourth in the OHL with 22 goals after scoring just 16 all of last season.
His camp was highlighted by scoring a goal in Canada's final scrimmage. The winger could be one of the surprise players of the tournament.
Two more Bruins prospects could find their way to Russia for the tournament, which begins on Dec. 26.
2011 second-round pick Alexander Khokhlachev is considered a lock to play for Team Russia, who will seek gold on home ice led by Nail Yakupov.
Boston University freshman Matt Grzelcyk will attend Team USA's selection camp in Tarrytown, N.Y., from December 16 to 18. The offensive defenseman could spark the Americans to some big upsets.
If the NHL lockout continues into the new year, the World Junior Championships will become the highlight of the hockey calendar, and as usual, they will be a major opportunity for top prospects to show off their skills.