Team Canada has finalized their 25-man roster for the 2021 World Junior Championships on Friday after starting camp with 46 players. This announcement comes just days after the Canadians were released from a 14 day quarantine following positive COVID-19 tests within the camp. They were finally able to finish their intrasquad games in order to make their final selections. The host team is looking to repeat their gold medal win from last year’s tournament where they beat Team Russia on a game winning goal from Akil Thomas.
This year’s tournament was scheduled to be split between Red Deer and Edmonton, Alberta but with COVID-19 cases continuing to rise, they decided on a bubble format similar to the NHL. This will take place solely in Edmonton.
There were seven players eligible to return from last year’s team and with the exception of the 2020 NHL first overall pick, Alexis Lafreniere, they all are back to compete again. This list has Quinton Byfield, Dylan Cozens, Dawson Mercer and Connor McMichael up front as well as Bowen Byram and Jamie Drysdale on defence. It is looking like Bryam and Drysdale will be the top pairing on the back end for Coach Andre Tourigny.
These were the lines at the first team practice on Friday following the cuts:
Some of the cuts from last year’s selection camp have made a comeback and earned themselves a spot on the roster this time around. This includes Thomas Harley, Dylan Holloway, Peyton Krebs, Alex Newhook, Cole Perfetti, Braden Schneider and Connor Zary. They will finally get their chance to compete for Canada at the World Junior Championships.
While there were very few surprises coming out of this year’s section camp, some may argue the release of Goaltender Brett Brochu of the OHL’s London Knights was unwarranted after his showing in camp. Canada’s final goaltending trio of Taylor Gauthier, Dylan Garand, Devon Levi also performed well in the series of intrasquad games throughout the camp. While Brochu went undrafted this past October, it would be shocking if a team didn’t snag him next year. This surely won’t be the last fans see of Brochu as he is eligible to compete at next year’s World Junior Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden.
It is worth mentioning that other than Kaeden Korczak (VGK 2nd RD, 2019) and Jordan Spence (LAK 4th RD, 2019), every skater on this roster is an NHL first round draft pick.
The team’s youngest player is actually a returnee, Byfield, who takes that title for a second straight year. While he had a limited role in last year’s tournament, contributing only a single assist in seven games, he will be relied on to take on more minutes moving forward. Since last year’s tournament, he was drafted second overall in the 2020 NHL draft by the Los Angeles Kings back in October.
As usual, Canada looks like they’ll be a powerhouse in this tournament. Will they be able to defend their gold medal and come out victorious for a second straight year? Canada begins that quest on December 26th against Team Germany.
Here is the full 25-man roster for the tournament.
Quinton Byfield, Dylan Cozens, Kirby Dach, Dylan Holloway, Peyton Krebs, Dawson Mercer, Connor McMichael, Alex Newhook, Jakob Pelletier, Cole Perfetti, Jack Quinn, Ryan Suzuki, Phil Tomasino, Connor Zary
Justin Barron, Bowen Byram, Jamie Drysdale, Kaiden Guhle, Thomas Harley, Kaedan Korczak, Braden Schneider, Jordan Spence
Taylor Gauthier, Dylan Garand, Devon Levi