Out of 40 invitations, Hockey Canada and the Canadian Hockey League selected 18 Western Hockey League players to participate in Canada’s National Junior Team selection camp Dec. 12-15 in Toronto, Canada.
Among them, Medicine Hat’s Linden Vey (Los Angeles Kings) leads the WHL in scoring with 49 points, while Vancouver’s Brendan Gallagher’s (Montreal Canadiens) 41 points rank him fifth in the league. Portland Winterhawks forward Ryan Johansen (Columbus Blue Jackets) is the highest drafted player representing the WHL — taken forth-overall last June.
Despite the evident talent from the WHL selections, Hockey Canada head scout Kevin Prendergast doesn’t believe his roster has any “superstars.”
“It’s going to be a blue-collar team,” Prendergast said. “Knowing the way [head coach] Dave [Cameron] coaches it’s a team that’s going to win on working hard and out-working teams.
“There’s no Crosbys or any of those kinds of players on this team.”
Last week, the Kings released 19-year-old center Brayden Schenn back to his old Junior team, the Brandon Wheat Kings, making him eligible to play in the World Juniors.
Schenn recorded two assists in just eight games for the Kings, but head coach Terry Murray believes Schenn still needs work in the defensive end of the ice, while his offense is at NHL level.
“That’s something that Brayden Schenn should not even worry about, the offensive part of it,” Murray said. “That’s ingrained. He has it. He has great skill.” – ESPN
Prendergast called adding Schenn to the roster “an early Christmas present.”
Seattle Thunderbirds goalie Calvin Pickard (Colorado Avalanche) will be one of four tenders in camp. The Winnipeg native boasts a 2.76 GAA and a .927 save percentage in 27 games for Seattle this year.
Edmonton Oil Kings defenseman and camp invitee Mark Pysyk (Buffalo Sabres) took home this week’s WHL Player of the Week. The 18-year-old picked up two goals and four assists in his last two games. Buffalo took him 23rd-overall in the 2010 draft.
“You don’t win this tournament without depth,” Cameron said. “Each year, because of the way the dynamic guys are going to [stay in] the National Hockey League, there’s no surprises. We don’t dwell on that…the strength of our program is depth.”
Canada opens the tournament on Dec. 26 against Russia.