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Last Year's Result: Bronze
After a devastating failure to win gold in their own backyard a year ago, Team Canada arrives with a dream team full of players made available by the NHL lockout.
During the 2004-05 lockout, Canada went undefeated en route to a gold medal with a squad featuring stars such as Sidney Crosby, Jeff Carter and Patrice Bergeron. This year's team will be led by superstar prospects, including Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jonathan Huberdeau, Ryan Strome and Dougie Hamilton.
Their lineup is stocked from top to bottom with elite talent at every position. The only question mark on the team will likely be the goaltending situation. 2012 first rounder Malcolm Subban was the favorite to start in net for Canada, but a few poor performances in pre-tournament exhibitions may give Jordan Binnington a chance to break through. For some teams, such a controversy would be troublesome, but in this case, both goalies have enough ability to backstop Canada to gold.
Despite being pushed down the depth chart by 2011 first-round picks, potential 2013 top pick Nathan MacKinnon will draw tons of attention. The high-scoring forward could use the tournament as his coming out party.
Despite the presence of Russia in Group B, Canada should advance with ease, and their New Year's Eve battle with the host country could be a preview of the gold-medal game. On paper, Team Canada is likely the best World Junior squad since the last NHL lockout. The question remains whether they translate well from paper to ice.