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World Junior Championship: Canadian delegation likely to be very thin

Guy Boucher, now an assistant with the Maple Leafs, often says that fans see a team’s prospects as their new Christmas presents. We’re so eager to see them land quickly with the big club, that we’re generally prepared to let them skip stages in their development.

I’ll admit it, I’m one of those people. I love hopefuls and I’m always extremely anxious to see them land in the NHL.

In Montreal, I think there are at least two or three of us with this disease.

In a rebuilding process like the one the CH is going through, it’s only natural to pay special attention to the prospects, since they are the ones who bring hope to the fans. As a result, the World Junior Hockey Championship will once again be eagerly awaited by fans this year.

Unfortunately, the Canadiens’ delegation is likely to be a little thin during the holiday season in Gothenburg, Sweden, where this eagerly-awaited competition will take place.

Not being an expert on the subject myself, I’ll turn to those at The Athletic. They have just given us their assessment of the ” 2023 World Junior Summer Showcase “, which just ended in Plymouth, Michigan, with three countries taking part: the USA, Sweden and Finland. Today, the experts at The Athletic offer us their assessment of the youngsters who should populate the rosters of the four major powers (they include Canada, even though it wasn’t at the showcase) in place.

On the Maple Leaf side, there’s only one Canadian representative, and that’s Owen Beck. According to Corey Pronman, he’s expected to pilot the team’s fourth trio. South of the border, it’s much better with Lane Hutson and Jacob Fowler. Hutson could even be named captain, as my colleague Félix Forget mentioned two weeks ago. As for Fowler, he’ll be trying to steal the number-one goaltender title from Trey Augustine. No mean feat.

And that’s it.

Three players in total, none with Finland and Sweden.

Among the teams with a chance of winning gold, it’s very slim indeed. In fact, the only top prospect of the lot will be Lane Hutson.

The question is, is this because the source is drying up, or is it because the best hopefuls are graduating to the pros?

Of course, this list only takes into account the four major powers of the tournament, but the Canadians will have other representatives such as David Reinbacher with Austria, and Filip Mesar and Juraj Slafkovsky for Slovakia. But even with these two names, we’re still not talking about a very impressive delegation.

Two teams seem to be lining up to have a more massive delegation, and they are the Buffalo Sabres and the Chicago Blackhawks, with five players each. You’re going to tell me that five isn’t too far off from three. Theoretically, you’re right. But in reality, the importance of the players in their respective national organizations makes all the difference.

This difference is particularly striking when you look at the Sabres, who should have Sweden’s first center in Noah Ostlund, as well as Canada’s two first-team wingers in Zach Benson and Matthew Savoie.

In any case, I can’t wait to get there and see how the CH hopefuls fare. How about you?

In gusto

– Kyle Dubas has his hopes up right now.

– Yes, dear, Jeff Petry does have a no-trade clause.

– Oops!

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