Leafs and the World Juniors: First Thoughts

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Team Canada has effectively named their roster for the World Junior Championships to take place in Malmo Sweden starting on Boxing Day.  Having had a little bit of time to digest their decisions from a Leafs perspective, here are some of my thoughts.

No Matt Finn

The biggest surprise on Team Canada’s roster from a Leafs perspective is Matt Finn’s omission.  Finn is an all-situations defenseman whose biggest weakness in his game is probably his physicality — an element which is considerably less important on International ice.  I’m surprised he didn’t make the team (almost as surprised as I was when I heard Nurse was left at home) but the truth of the matter is, Canada has a deep team and Finn, even in my mind, was probably only 60-40 to make the team.

Gauthier Yes, Brown No

If you look purely at the statistical side of our prospects, the idea of bringing Gauthier over Connor Brown is a little confounding.  Again, I feel that the International ice was at play here.  Brown may have the better hands of the two but Gauthier is a stronger skater and is also better equipped to play a defensive role with the team.  Team Canada rarely takes an All-Star team to these events and instead opts to take players to fill very specific roles.  I’m sure filling the checking role with a youngster with a mature defensive game was a motive here.

Rielly?

Apparently the Leafs have informed Team Canada that Morgan Rielly will be released to play with the National Squad if he isn’t playing regularly with the Leafs at the time of the tournament (December 19 cut off). Trying to predict how Randy Carlyle will deploy his players is a fool’s errand as far as I’m concerned so I won’t even hazard a guess, but it wouldn’t hurt my feelings at all to see Rielly playing 20 minutes a game in this tourney; helping lead the Canadian team while gaining confidence and feeling good about himself after going in and out of the press box with the Leafs wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen.  Rielly’s skating on the big rink would be a thing to behold, and there’s little doubt that he would be one of the primary options on the blueline for the team in the event that he’s released.

2014 Team Canada Roster

NameS/CHt.Wt.BornHometownClub TeamPro Status

Goaltenders

Zachary FucaleL/G6'1"1765/28/1995Rosemre, Que./QcHalifax (QMJHL)MTL '13 (2, 36)
Jake PatersonL/G6'0"1855/3/1994Mississauga, Ont.Saginaw (OHL)DET '12 (3, 80)

Defence

Chris BigrasL/G6'0.5"1892/22/1995Woodland Beach, Ont.Owen Sound (OHL)COL '13 (2, 32)
Mathew DumbaR/D6'0"1837/25/1994Calgary, Alta./Alb.Minnesota (NHL)MIN '12 (1, 7)
Aaron EkbladR/D6'3.5"2162/7/1996Belle River, Ont.Barrie (OHL)2014 Dft/Rep.
Josh MorrisseyL/G6'0"1843/28/1995Calgary, Alta./Alb.Prince Albert (WHL)WPG '13 (1, 13)
Adam PelechÊL/G6'2"2158/16/1994Toronto, Ont.Erie (OHL)NYI '12 (3, 65)
Derrick PouliotL/G6'0"2031/16/1994Weyburn, Sask.Portland (WHL)PIT '12 (1, 8)
Griffin ReinhartL/G6'3.5"2121/24/1994West Vancouver, B.C./C.-B.Edmonton (WHL)NYI '12 (1, 4)
Damon SeversonR/D6'2"1988/7/1994Melville, Sask.Kelowna (WHL)NJ '12 (2, 60)

Forwards

Josh AndersonR/D6'2"1995/7/1994Burlington, Ont.London (OHL)CBJ '12 (4, 95)
Jonathan DrouinL/G5'11"1853/28/1995Huberdeau, Que./QcHalifax (QMJHL)TB '13 (1, 3)
FrŽdŽrik GauthierL/G6'4"2154/26/1995Mascouche, Que./QcRimouski (QMJHL)TOR '13 (1, 21)
FŽlix GirardR/D5'11"1905/9/1994LŽvis, Que./QcBaie-Comeau (QMJHL)NSH '13 (4, 95)
Bo HorvatL/G6'0"2034/5/1995Rodney, Ont.London (OHL)VAN '13 (1, 9)
Charles HudonL/G5'10,5"1756/23/1994Boisbriand, Que./QcChicoutimi (QMJHL)MTL '12 (5, 122)
Scott LaughtonL/G6'1"1905/30/1994Oakville, Ont.Oshawa (OHL)PHI '12 (1, 20)
Curtis LazarR/D6'0"1982/2/1995Vernon, B.C./C.-B.Edmonton (WHL)OTT '13 (1, 17)
Taylor LeierL/G5'11"1772/15/1994Saskatoon, Sask.Portland (WHL)PHI '12 (4, 117)
Anthony ManthaL/G6'5"2049/16/1994Longueuil, Que./QcVal-d'Or (QMJHL)DET '13 (1, 20)
Connor McDavidL/G6'0"1821/13/1997Newmarket, Ont.Erie (OHL)2015 Dft/Rep
Nic PetanL/G5'9"1663/22/1995Delta, B.C./C.-B.Portland (WHL)WPG '13 (2, 43)
Sam ReinhartR/D6'1"18311/6/1995West Vancouver, B.C./C.-B.Kootenay (WHL)2014 Dft/Rep.
Kerby RychelL/G6'1"20510/7/1994Tecumseh, Ont.Windsor (OHL)CBJ '13 (1, 19)
Hunter ShinkarukL/G5'10.5"18110/13/1994Calgary, Alta./Alb.Medicine Hat (WHL)VAN '13 (1, 24)

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  • LeafFan15

    Cant believe they didnt take Finn.

  • Optimustic

    I’d like to see Rielly play in the tourney.  The Leafs have enough D=men and the experience would be very good for the kid.   It would also give us an idea of how good he is compared to his own age group.

  • peterbleafs

    Id also like to see Reilly go, there just seems to be too much confusion at the NHL level with Carlyle, so just get him out of there.

  • Great Dane

    canuckukintoronto 
    39.6 shot against average is not acceptable. 
    What is most concerning is that Carlyle seems totally bewildered and there is no action taken.
    There is something horribly wrong with the team and we are winning because of the magic from Reimer and Bernier

  • Burtonboy

    Leafs have placed Bozak on LTIR

    http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/24-7/leafs-kadri-has-optimistic-road-ahead/

  • Great Dane

    My fear is that Carlyle will run Phaneuf, JVR and Kessel into the ground before using other players. Same for Bernier and Reimer; eventually they cannot withhold the pressure of 50 shots per game.

    What I really don’t get is that Nonis trade Holland, recall D’Amigo, Ashton and Leivo; but Carlyle refuse to give them ice time. 
    WHY??????????

  • MaxwellHowe

    CanuckUKinToronto Absolutely right – RC obviously decided to go all in for the win last nite, and maybe that was the right call, since the Leafs need to break out of their funk before the important interdivisional games this weekend.  But I don’t think playing 3 lines is necessarily the way to win a game, much less build a winning season.  The Leafs looked gassed late in that game.  RC didn’t even play D’Amigo on the PK.  Now with two games on the weekend, RC is going to have to spread out the ice time or the Bruins will destroy them on Sunday.
    Here’s an idea.  If RC is uncomfortable with the third line players – maybe Nonis should call up Liles – who not only would be available to play D – but could be a left winger in the third line.  Just a wild thought.  He seems to be playing the left wing on the Marlie pp.  he could be an offensive threat.

  • Burtonboy

    CanuckUKinToronto The issue I see with Holland was his line mates last night are not exactly offensive dynamos. Given the way Trevor Smith is playing would you have given Holland more ice time ?
    Now that Bozak is on LTIR its we might see another call up. I would like to see this kind of lineup when Lupul is back and really roll 4 lines 

    JVR – Naz – Kessel

    Lupul  – Smith  – Clarkson 

    Raymond – Holland – Leivo

    Ashton/ D’Amigo – McClement – Kulemin 

    On defense its imperative that he gets Fraser at the very least out of the line up for a while . I saw 2 defensemen last night able to move the puck out of the zone effectively . Gardiner and Dion. Dion was more active moving the puck last night then he has been in a while.

    Gunnarson  – Phaneuf

    Gardiner  – Franson 

    Ranger – Rielly

  • MaxwellHowe

    Send Rielly and call up Liles.  Give the kid a chance to learn what it takes to win a championship.   May come in handy in a couple of years.

  • MaxwellHowe

    Burtonboy CanuckUKinToronto Gardiner was borderline dynamic last nite. I know I pump his tires here with some frequency, but as his confidence grows, he will be a large part of lowering the shot diffreentials.  He slowed the game down at will last nite.  Evaded forechaeckers, skated miles, got shots thru on Lehtonen.
    I like your lineup, but I still maintain Lupul should be on the right wing.  The second could be Kulimen – Smith – Lupul.  Then Raymond – Holland  – Clarkson.  Ashton/D’Amigo – McClement -Leivo