December 26 2016 01:26PM
It's the most wonderful time of year! The World Juniors are back, and with them, we can all unite in arguing with each other about which teenagers carry the best passports. For Canada, the land that occupies most of our hearts, that two-week journey begins with their game against the Russians at Toronto's Air Canada Centre.
|Carter Hart||Everett (WHL)||G||L||18||6'1"||170||Phi 2016|
|Connor Ingram||Kamloops (WHL)||G||L||19||6'1"||195||Tam 2016|
|Jake Bean||Calgary (WHL)||D||L||18||6'1"||170||Car 2016|
|Thomas Chabot||Saint John (QMJHL)||D||L||19||6'2"||188||Ott 2015|
|Kale Clague||Brandon (WHL)||D||L||18||6'0"||177||LA 2016|
|Dante Fabbro||Boston University (NCAA)||D||R||18||6'1"||190||Nsh 2016|
|Noah Juulsen||Everett (WHL)||D||R||19||6'2"||185||Mtl 2015|
|Jeremy Lauzon||Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL)||D||L||19||6'2"||207||Bos 2015|
|Philippe Myers||Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL)||D||L||19||6'4"||206||Phi 2015|
|Mathew Barzal||Seattle (WHL)||F||R||19||6'0"||187||NYI 2015|
|Anthony Cirelli||Oshawa (OHL)||F||L||19||6'0"||165||Tam 2015|
|Dillon Dube||Kelowna (WHL)||F||L||18||5'10"||180||Cgy 2016|
|Pierre-Luc Dubois||Cape Breton (QMJHL)||F||L||18||6'3"||202||Clb 2016|
|Julien Gauthier||Val d'Or (QMJHL)||F||R||19||6'4"||224||Car 2016|
|Mathieu Joseph||Saint John (QMJHL)||F||L||19||6'1"||171||Tam 2015|
|Tyson Jost||North Dakota (NCAA)||F||L||18||6'0"||190||Col 2016|
|Michael McLeod||Mississauga (OHL)||F||R||18||6'2"||187||NJ 2016|
|Taylor Raddysh||Erie (OHL)||F||R||18||6'2"||209||Tam 2016|
|Nicolas Roy||Chicoutimi (QMJHL)||F||R||19||6'4"||202||Car 2015|
|Blake Speers||Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)||F||R||19||6'0"||184||NJ 2015|
|Mitchell Stephens||Saginaw (OHL)||F||R||19||6'0"||195||Tam 2015|
|Dylan Strome||Erie (OHL)||F||L||19||6'3"||194||Ari 2015|
Roster courtesy of TSN.ca. Lines yet to be released.
Canada, unsurprisingly, doesn't really have draft-eligible talent for you to salivate over. But they're stacked with some of the highest profile names in the prospect world; which should make them tough to beat. Dylan Strome (Arizona) and Pierre-Luc Dubois (Columbus) are probably the biggest names to watch.
|Anton Krasotkin||Yaroslavl 2 (RUS-JR)||G||L||19||6'0||179||2017|
|Ilya Samsonov||Magnitogorsk (RUS)||G||L||19||6'3||205||Was 2015|
|Vladislav Sukhachyov||Chelmet (RUS)||G||L||18||5'10||181||2017|
|Artyom Chymkhov||CSKA (RUS||D||L||19||6'2||198||2017|
|Grigoriy Dronov||Magnitogorsk (RUS)||D||L||18||6'2||207||2017|
|Vadim Kudakov||Cherepovets (RUS)||D||L||19||6'1||179||2017|
|Yegor Rykov||St. Petersburg (RUS)||D||L||19||6'2||216||Njd 2016|
|Mikhail Sergachev||Windsor (OHL)||D||L||18||6'3||216||Mtl 2016|
|Mikhail Sidorov||Kazan (RUS)||D||R||19||6'0||214||2017|
|Artyom Volkov||Balashikha 2 (RUS-2)||D||L||19||6'1||183||2017|
|Yegor Voronkov||Chekhov (RUS)||D||L||19||6'0||183||2017|
|Sergey Zborovskiy||Regina (WHL)||D||R||19||6'4||194||NYR 2015|
|Denis Alexeyev||Ryazan (RUS-2)||F||R||19||6'0||183||2017|
|Kirill Belayev||Khanty-Mansiysk 2 (RUS-JR)||F||L||19||6'2||218||2017|
|Denis Guryanov||Texas (AHL)||F||L||19||6'3||201||Dal 2015|
|Kirill Kaprizov||Ufa (RUS)||F||L||19||5'10||192||Min 2015|
|Pavel Karnaukhov||CSKA (RUS||F||L||19||6'3||205||Cal 2015|
|Danila Kvartalnov||CSKA (RUS||F||L||19||6'1||183||2017|
|Alexandr Polunin||Yaroslavl (RUS)||F||R||19||5'9||172||2017|
|German Rubtsov||Podolsk (RUS)||F||L||18||6'0||190||Phi 2016|
|Yakov Trenin||Gatineau (QMJHL)||F||L||19||6'2||205||Nas 2015|
|Kirill Urakov||Nizhny Novgorod (RUS)||F||L||18||5'11||163||2017|
|Mikhail Vorobyov||Ufa (RUS)||F||L||19||6'2||207||Phi 2015|
|Danil Yurtaikin||Ryazan (RUS-2)||F||R||19||5'11||170||2017|
Roster courtesy of TSN.ca. Lines yet to be released.
On the other hand, the Russians are going to be a really interesting team full of players who are ripe for the picking this year. Outside of their stacked goaltending platoon, a player I'd recommend keeping an eye on is Alexander Polunin; the 19-year-old wasn't drafted this year, but is having another decent season with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL. To be a regular contributor in the second best men's league int he world as a 5'9 teenager is pretty impressive, so it'll be interesting to see what he does this year against players his own age. Last year, he had three goals in 7 games.
The last time the two countries faced off in this tournament in Toronto was during the 2015 Gold Medal Game. Canada, of course, came out victorious.
Perhaps their most famous matchup of this generation, though, was a semifinal game. Who could forget 2009? Say 5.4 seconds to any Canadian hockey fan and they'll tell you their vantage point.
What To Look Out For
We all know how Canada/Russia goes. Thre's an insane amount of passion involved, especially when one team has home ice. This time, Russia will be looking to upset their biggest hockey rivals in their own building, while Canada looks to not be dealt an embarrassing situation like that.
Combined with the fact that this will be the opening game of the tournament for both, and with kids on both sides looking to make an immediate impression, just about anything can happen.
Ultimately, though, I'm going to lean towards the Canadians, barring a lights-out performance from Samsonov in goal. This isn't their best team ever, but the firepower is definitely there. Puck drop is at 8:00 PM in Toronto (7:00 in Winnipeg, 6:00 in Alberta, 5:00 in Vancouver), and you can catch the game on TSN.