As it is every year, there are always some tough decisions and surprises when it comes to naming the final roster for Team Canada's World Junior squad.
This morning was no different.
John Tavares highlights the list of forwards who will don the Red and White for Canada at the tournament to be held this Christmas in Ottawa. Also making the team at forward are Jamie Benn, Zach Boychuk, Patrice Cormier, Stefan Della Rovere, Chris DiDomenico, Jordan Eberle, Tyler Ennis, Angelo Esposito, Cody Hodgson, Brett Sonne, John Tavares, and Dana Tyrell.
Going against tradition, head coach Pat Quinn named eight defensemen to the team this year, instead of the usual seven.
While the defense is expected to struggle in the absence of Luke Schenn and Drew Doughty, it is still shaping up to be a strong, talented squad with great two-way abilities.
Starring on the blue line for Team Canada will be Colten Teubert, P.K. Subban, Alex Pietrangelo, Tyler Myers, and Thomas Hickey. While that figures to be a strong starting five, Ryan Ellis, Cody Goloubef and Keith Aulie will be battle for the final spot throughout the tournament.
Chet Pickard, a Nashville first rounder, and Spokane Cheifs' Dustin Tokarski will battle in pre-tournament action to determine who will be the starting goalie for Canada.
While Pickard is having a solid year since being drafted by the Predators, the brass of the team like how Tokarski, a Memorial Cup winner last spring, was able to handle a short, intense tournament.
Defenseman and L.A. Kings draft pick Thomas Hickey has been chosen to captain the team, while John Tavares, P.K. Subban, Zach Boychuk, and Cody Hodgson will server as alternates.
Some of the cuts were also shocking today, as some of the top rated prospects were sent home.
Among them were goaltenders Tyson Sexsmith, a former Memorial Cup winner. Jake Allen was also the other goaltender cut from camp.
More surprising were the cuts to Braydon Schenn, Nazem Kadri, Taylor Hall, and Matt Duchene. Defenseman Brenden Smith, a Detroit Red Wings draft choice, and Tyler Cuma were also cut.
Kadri was battling a broken jaw going into the camp, while Cuma suffered a knee injury in the intrasquad games. It is believed, had he stayed healthy, Cuma would have made the team.
The World Junior Hockey Championship kicks off Boxing Day with Canada battling Czech Republic.
Let's also all send out our thoughts and prayers to Don Sanderson and his family. Sanderson is a defenseman with the Whitby Dunlops of a Canadian junior league, and he is in a coma fighting for his life this afternoon after his head struck the ice during a fight in a game on Friday.
The team updated its website this morning saying there was some optimism, as there was detection of movement in one of Sanderson's arms.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Don and his family during this time.
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