There will be a special sort of spotlight on Team Canada at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship this holiday season in Edmonton, and that focus can begin in earnest now.
Forty-six players were named Thursday morning to Canada’s 2021 National Junior Team selection camp roster, including 26 forwards, 15 defenders and five goaltenders. The NHL’s No. 1 overall draft selection, Alexis Lafreniere, was not named to the selection camp, but six returnees from last winter’s gold-medal winning side include NHL lottery selections Quinton Byfield, Bowen Byram, Jamie Drysdale and Dylan Cozens, as well as Connor McMichael and Dawson Mercer.
More than half the roster is made up of first-round NHL draft selections, and 15 of the 25 top picks are from the 2020 draft alone. Also included is the prospective No. 1 overall selection in the 2022 NHL Draft and the youngest invitee of the bunch, Kingston Frontenacs forward Shane Wright.
The Ontario Hockey League leads the way with 18 representatives, with the Western Hockey League contributing 15 prospects. There are also nine from the QMJHL and four players from the U.S. collegiate ranks.
Hockey Canada is sparing no expense in preparation to defend its junior crown. The training camp will last four weeks and include three intra-squad games as well as six matchups against the U Sports’ All-Star team.
Canada’s 2020 world junior championship bid will begin on Boxing Day against Germany, but the tournament will start one day earlier this year with Slovakia and Switzerland kicking off the schedule on Christmas Day.
TSN’s Darren Dreger notes that all players travelling from the United States to Red Deer will take part in the Alberta government’s new COVID-19 rapid-testing pilot project. That means they will receive a test at the airport and quarantine for 48 hours, rather than the normal two weeks.
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