Leafs prospect Nazem Kadri has successfully passed the first hurdle en route to a possible World Juniors roster spot, by earning an invite to the final selection camp earlier today. The roster currently encompasses 36 invitees in total, a number which Team Canada Head Coach Willie Desjardins will have to narrow down to 22 by the end of camp.
Returning players from last year’s team include: Ryan Ellis, Alex Pietrangelo, Colton Teubert, Patrice Cormier, Jordan Eberle, Stefan Della Rovere and Cody Hodgson. All seven of these players were very effective in their last go around with the World Junior team, winning gold medals back at 2009 tournament, and are likely locks to make the team this time around.
Among the new players vying for a roster spot is the Canadien’s power forward Louis Leblanc, the Kings’ 2009 5th overall pick Brayden Schenn, as well as a pair of very talented behemoth blueliners out of the Senators’ farm system in Spokane’s Jared Cowen and Denver’s Patrick Weircioch. Cowen was a surprise cut to last year’s team, but would certainly bringÂ the size and defensive presence now missing from the Canadian blueline with the departure of Tyler Myers to the NHL. The Los Angeles Kings always seem to be well presented at these events, and will once again be sending five prospects to Team Canada’s selection camp.
What are Kadri’s chances?
They actually look pretty good, but it’s hardly a lock. There are a handful of talented forwards from the 2010 draft crop highlighted by Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin, but Team Canada has tended to steer away from the young draft eligible prospects in recent years. However, the team is not headed by Pat Quinn this time around, so it’s tough to say whether the current coaching staff will lean as heavily towards veteran players.
Despite a slow start statistically to the season, Kadri has certainly shown that he can be a valuable special teams player and can inject a little edge and nastiness into the lineup. He impressed many Hockey Canada personnel with a fantastic showing against the Russians during the Subway Series two weeks ago, by displaying a ton of poise and assertiveness while running the OHL’s top powerplay unit. He also added a beautiful shorthanded marker by showing sheer strength and determination as he overpoweredÂ a Russian defender to the net to beat the goaltender.Â As hockey executives such as NACS chief scout Mark Seidel have noted, Kadri is the type of player whom seems to elevate his game to another level when placed alongside skilled teammates, and likes to become that “go-to” guy. There’s a good chance that Hockey Canada could look to the key contributions of Thrashers’ prospect Angelo Esposito at last year’s tournament, killing penalties and bringing energy to every shift, as a guideline of what Nazem could offer them in Regina later on this month.
Update: Team USA’s camp roster has been announced at 29 invitees. Winger Jerry D’Amigo out of RPI was issued an invite after a near point-a-game start to his NCAA career. Unfortunately, Windsor Spitres’ power forward Kenny Ryan did not earn an invite due to a slow start to his OHL career after leaving Boston College.
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