TCGD – Here Come The Canadians

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Hope all of you folks have gotten over your Christmas Day hangovers (turkey related, or otherwise), because it’s just about time for World Junior Hockey. Facing off tonight at 8:00pm ET/5:00pm PT, Team Canada will kick off their tournament against Team Slovakia at the Bell Centre in Montreal. 

As such, here’s your Team Canada Game Day:

Team Canada

We’ve already seen this team broken down a hundred times over since the final cuts were announced. Leading the charge will be 2015 top prospect Connor McDavid of the OHL’s Erie Otters, a supremely talented offensive player. While a great amount of buzz has been surrounding McDavid for weeks, he’ll have plenty of help scoring goals. Curtis Lazar (OTT), Anthony Duclair (NYR), Sam Reinhart (BUF), Max Domi (ARI), and Rob Fabbri (STL) will also play major roles in Canada’s offence, with any of them capable of taking over a game by themselves. 

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Canada’s supporting cast, which is pretty impressive in and of itself, will include Jake Virtanen (VAN), Nick Ritchie (ANA), Lawson Crouse (2015 Eligible), Nic Petan (WPG), Brayden Point (TBL), Nick Paul (DAL) and Frederik Gauthier (TOR).

On the backend, Darnell Nurse (EDM), Josh Morrissey (WPG), Shea Theodore (ANA), Samuel Morin (PHI), Madison Bowey (WSH), Dillon Heatherington (CLB) and Joe Hicketts (DET) will be tasked with shutting down the Slovakian offence.

No announcements yet as to who will be scratched.

Team Slovakia

Slovakia’s team is lead by Montreal Canadiens prospect Martin Reway, drafted in the 4th round in 2013. Reway, a left winger, played two seasons and was an impact player for the Gatineau Olympiques of the QMJHL before jumping to the pros this season with HC Sparta Praha of the Czech Extraliga. He’s doing just fine in his new environment, with 21 points in 23 games.

Reway will be joined by Boston Bruins prospect Peter Cehlarik and 2015 draft eligible defenceman Christian Jaros, both of whom have been developing their games with Lulea HF in the Swedish Hockey League. It’s these three players who Team Canada will focus on shutting down. 

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The rest of Team Slovakia is made up largely of HK Orange 20 players. Founded in 2007, HK Orange 20 was created to bring together Slovakia’s best under-20 players and allow them to develop against the best competition the country has to offer. HK Orange 20 competes in the Slovak Extraliga, Slovakia’s top men’s league.

Starting Goaltenders

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As expected, Montreal Canadiens prospect Zach Fucale will be in goal for Team Canada. In 24 games for the Halifax Moosehead prior to Team Canada’s selection camp, Fucale posted a 3.20 GAA and .890 SV%. Those are hardly impressive numbers, but he likely won’t need to be anything more than average for Canada.

At the other end of the ice, Slovakia will answer with 19-year old Denis Godla. The 5’10, 176lb netminder plays for HK Orange 20 and has a 3.19 GAA and .915 SV% in 16 games this season. 

What to Watch For

  • A whole bunch of goals for Canada (and perhaps an uneasy amount for Slovakia as well)
  • Nick Ritchie getting a two-minute penalty for “Hitting Too Hard”
  • A lot of talk about McDavid vs. Eichel, even though Jack Eichel isn’t playing in this game
  • Sentimental stories about Team Canada players and the small towns they grew up in
  • Fredrik Gauthier killin’ mad penalties, yo

  • Butters

    My favourite WJC game is always the New Years Eve tilt VS the Americans. It will be fun to watch McDavid, Eichel and Hanifin. One of those three is sure to be an Oiler.

    • Butters

      Continuously rewarding the Oilers with top draft picks due to incoherence, ineptness, tanking and being dysfunctional is a non-starter for me…hope the NHL intervenes and no longer allows this practice!!

      • Butters

        The NHL has already taken additional steps to discourage tanking. The odds are lower for the last place team for 2015. For 2016 the last place team could pick as low as fourth depending on the outcome of the three lottery draws.

        We are not that happy here in Oilerland, even with the prospect of getting McEichel.

        • Oilers89

          I can kind of see where you are coming from, but comments like these don’t make much sense to me. As noted by another poster they are taking steps to discourage tanking. Comments like the ones above always come off as jealous to an extent and I don’t know why anyone would be jealous of the Oiler’s position. Bad teams should get high draft picks to offer legitimate hope to their fan base.

          I get that it is annoying seeing players go somewhere like Edmonton, but trust me it isn’t fun for the fans to have to see this every year. However, seeing that we have a good chance at McDavid is the only thing that makes it bearable haha

          Ps. I quoted the wrong person. I meant to quote ‘Gerard’.

          • Avalain

            Well, I’m not Gerard, but IMO it doesn’t really have anything to do with being jealous of bad teams getting good picks. The issue for me is that being really bad should never be considered a viable long term winning strategy for a GM. I am looking forward to the 3 lottery picks next year because no fan base is going to be ok with their team being a complete embarrassment for a whole year just to secure 4th overall. Or, well, at least they shouldn’t. There will be more pressure to actually win games even if you are a bottom placed team, and that is how I feel it should be.

          • YFC Prez

            As radical as this would be, I would like to see all 14 non-playoff teams have an equal shot (around 7%) of selecting anywhere from #1 to #14.

            This would disincentivize teams from “tanking” intentionally and encourage teams to push for the playoffs every year.

            Because there isn’t a single team in the league that would intentionally try to miss the playoffs if the incentive was merely a 14% chance at McEichel…

          • Oilers89

            The only issue with that (that I can think of off the top of my head) is that the truly horrible teams might never get better. Players will still choose to go to a warm climate over Edmonton, or Calgary, or Winnipeg. Without getting the high end talent from the draft these teams are going to flounder for years (or any team with a disadvantage). Picking high isn’t a ‘cure all’ by any means, but in my mind the middle portion of the league will get very strong and the bottom will remain horrible in this scenerio.

            I like the thought process of creating a more competive league, but some teams are in such a poor position that turning North isn’t an option. They can’t just go out and sign any free agent that they want and magically make their team competitive and not a bottom feeder.

          • Reg Dunlop

            Truly horrible teams don’t necessarily get better with a disproportionate number of tanking picks either.

            Edmonton, Atlanta/Winnipeg, Columbus & Florida come to mind…

            This is less about increasing parity and more about rewarding (with better draft odds) teams that barely miss the playoffs as opposed to the teams that are right at the bottom.

            The pre-salary cap mediocre Oiler teams were at least as deserving of a high draft pick as the post-Pronger mess we have witnessed for the last decade…

          • KiLLKiND

            I should add, with all due respect under the assumption that you cheer for Edmonton, that certain teams are always going to be at a disadvantage.

            Nashville is probably the best example of what a team in a small market can achieve.

            It’s ridiculous that a well run organization like the Predators hasn’t had a top 3 pick since their first draft in 1998 while the Oilers have tanked their way into a number of them.

            How good would their outlook have been if they could have inserted a Hall or even RNH into their lineup?

            They couldn’t, of course, largely because they were pushing hard for the playoffs every year.

            Just because many players and their wives do not want to play and live in Edmonton is hardly a good reason to continue to hand them tanking picks.

            That is the reality of being an undesirable market and the fan of a team in an undesirable market.

            The Stanley Cup is not intended for you.

            But thank you for playing in our league…

          • YFC Prez

            At risk of rehashing the age old argument to this debate. Detroit was a premier destination for free agent signings for many years. They’re not the power house they used to be but can still sign players.

            Now my question for you. Have you ever been to Detroit? I have family from there. It’s one of the biggest holes in North America. It’s an ugly poor industrial city. The only reason it isn’t boring is because the crime is so out of control the excitement level is always high. And it’s cold , darn cold. Yet look at the franchise they run. In THAT city.

            Edmonton , Calgary , Winnipeg , Minnesota , Toronto , Chicago , Detroit. Are all cold. I don’t think this plays as much to free agent signings as people like to think. The reason no one wants to sign in Edmonton is because they’re the worst run franchise in the league.

          • Serious Gord


            I have family in the Detroit area. Yes the city proper has some very bad areas, but several of the burbs are very nice. Much nicer than anything within several hundred miles of Edmonton. Some of the wealthiest towns in the us as a matter of fact (Bloomfield hills is the fourth wealthiest place in the US for example) and that is where the hockey players and their families live. They very rarely if ever go into the bad areas just as the oilers only go to north east EDM to play hockey.

            And the winter in southern Michigan is nowhere near as severe as EDM – few places on earth are.

            And they too are getting a new arena designed by the same guys who are doing edms and to my eye it looks to be better in terms of surrounding facilities.

            EDM and WPG are THE least desirable of locales in terms of off ice benefits in the entire league. But if the team itself is a well run winner stars will beat a path to either. The problem is EDM also has the worst management team in the league.

          • YFC Prez

            I agree with you about the management in Edmonton and your draft lottery suggestion. But I stand by my opinion of Detroit. My mom is from there. I’ve been several times. It’s one of the least desirable places in North America. IMO Edmonton is a shiny beacon of hope in comparison. And I have been there over the holidays twice in the past. Both times the city was very cold and snowy.

            I just don’t think snow and cold are really all that big of a factor in the oilers lack of attracting quality free agents. Ten years of being the worst run franchise in the league. That’s the kicker.

          • YFC Prez

            There are very few franchise altering players that reach free agency anyway.

            Aside from the Suter/Parise package and maybe Chara, how often does a premium free agent reach market and change the fortunes of the team he joins?

            There are plenty of reclamation project-type free agents that are available to less desirable markets.

            Once again, Nashville is a good example of what Edmonton should be doing.

            They signed Ribeiro, Roy and Jokinen and basically crossed their fingers that one or more of the players would stablize the roster.

            I have no idea how Edmonton expected to be competitive with their centre depth…

          • YFC Prez

            ” I have no idea how Edmonton expected to be competitive with their centre depth…”

            You and the rest of the hockey world. The only person who wasn’t willing to take a couple flyers of centres was Mac T. Passing on Chipchura was just the icing on the cake.

            Oh well at least we get to see that exciting young prospect Draisaitl play for his country when Canada plays Germany next game…… Oh wait Mac T messed that up too.

          • Serious Gord

            Players and fans of Detroit don’t live there. My uncle moved there in ’49 to take engineering at Wayne state and stayed there. Lived in Detroit then Southfield and now for a few decades Milford. I have been there probably thirty plus times at all times of the year. And there are some very beautiful areas – lots of lakes and trees. Winter is much nicer than EDM. Far more restaurants and parks and interesting architecture and universities than EDM as well. If you have money its a much nicer place to live than EDM.

          • YFC Prez

            99.9 % of the people who live there don’t have money. That’s the problem. Remind me again how many times Edmonton went bankrupt. If the city itself declares bankruptcy , there’s a problem.

            I haven’t seen the wealthy areas of Michigan so I will trust your opinion. But if were comparing to the state to the province now do those lakes and trees really hold a candle to Jasper, Banff or Sylvan. We live in a beautiful province.

          • Serious Gord

            You are making a statement that only applies to certain parts of urban Detroit. The suburbs are for the most part quite affluent.

            Michigan has far more lakes and recreational areas than Alberta does. Ab has the lowest ratio of accessable recreational areas per capita in all of canada. Sylvan lake is a joke compared to the lakes of Michigan. The state does border on four of the five Great Lakes btw.

          • YFC Prez

            I love the Great Lakes.

            I think this may be conversation may be going astray. My point is that the oilers shouldn’t be able to use location as an excuse for ineptitude. I looked to Detroit as a comparison. IMO if they can build a winner in Detroit, then there is little reason the oilers shouldn’t be able to do the same in Edmonton. Like Detroit or not it is no New York or LA.

            I’m tired of the location excuse. There’s so many more problems with this team that at this point it’s a non factor.

          • Reg Dunlop

            Edmonton is my home and I have visited Det. many times. Within a day’s drive from Edmonton is… the Rockies, Calgary and Saskatoon. Compare that to Toronto, Chicago, the Great Lakes. Downtown Detroit may be miles of burned-out abandoned bldgs but , come on, the rest is not comparable.

          • ThinkingOutLoud

            Aside from being poorly run we’re also the furthest from the teams we play. Its only an extra hour or two travelling but over the course of a season it can add up and wears on players – especially to those with young families.

          • Oilers89

            how about one better. the none playoff teams, playoff for the top pick. every city would get playoff hockey. oilers fans would get playoff hockey

            worst two teams would getbye to second round

            6 teams eliminated in first round of loser-offs would be seeded in lotto 9th to 14th depending on reg season record

            second round would feature worst two teams and 6 winners so worst two teams would be at lowest 5th and 6th selection. 8 teams total 4 winners advance

            3rd round 4 teams 2winners advance to play for lord losers cup.

            4th round 2 teams play for first overall selection, you could have them play on opposite nights to the cup final

          • Oilers89

            Yea that makes total sense, but the problem is finding the balance. In a league where everyone tries to win someone is still going to finish last. There is factors, such as the desirability of location, that are going to factor into which teams are the best. I think finding a perfect solution is going to be tough. Plus it seems as though there will always be owners who are not willing to spend to the cap…

            I don’t know that there will ever be a perfect system, but I am hopeful that next years draft changes help.

      • Serious Gord

        I’ve been an Oiler fan for over 20 years and I agree with this sentiment. But the NHL is actually changing things next year. Starting with the 2016 Draft Lottery all 14 NHL non playoff teams are eligible for the first overall pick and the top 3 picks are all lottery eligible. That means any of the 14 teams are going to be able to draft in the top 3.

        • Serious Gord

          I maintain that the best format was the one used after the lost season. 30th place team gets 30 balls, 29th 29 on down to first place getting one.

          Every team has a chance and the drawing happens until all positions are picked.

          That way every team and their fans have an interest in the draw. And televise the hell out of it. Draft parties everywhere.

          Removes the incentive to tank and lessens the penalty somewhat that perennially successful teams never get a chance at a top flight pick.

          • YFC Prez

            I would be on board with something along the lines of this as well.

            I still don’t necessarily like the idea of the worst team having a significantly better chance than the 14th worst team.

            But I do agree that successful teams should have a shot at the top pick (to a lesser degree) as well.

            The salary cap and floor have already created enough parity.

            And, quite frankly, why shouldn’t successful/big market teams have a shot at premium talents?

            I’m sure the NHL would prefer a McDavid or Eichel in LA over Edmonton.

            As a non-LA and non-Edmonton fan, I think I would prefer it as well as scary good as that could make the Kings…

  • james_dean

    Looking @ Fucale’s statistic above that leaves me with a certain kind of unease. W e all know how it ended last January. Tristan Jarry should have gotten an invitation!!!

  • CMpuck

    I’m more invested/looking forward to Nylander than McMedia but having Eichel/McDavid will be fun to watch play out. Russians are solid too should be great hackay.

  • YFC Prez

    Watching the Finland-USA game, man Eichel is an unreal player. Fast hands, quick shot, and not afraid to get physical. I know McDavid is well… McDavid, but as far as what the Oilers need I would almost prefer Eichel.

    • Reg Dunlop

      Looks like you will get your wish, no way the NHL allows McSavior to toil up near the arctic circle.

      To honor the WJHC from a disgusted oil-fan perspective, it was 27 years ago that P.Turgeon disgraced the maple leaf in Piestany. If a brawl breaks out in Calgary tomorrow, how many oilers assume the Turgeon position, tying their skates on the bench(or under it)? 5? More?

      I know pacifists will argue that Turgeon had a much more successful pro career than Everett Sanipass but he will never have any respect.

    • Oilers89

      Eichel reminds me of Modano/Sundin with the way he puck handles and his creativity. Skates like a swooping hawk. Hanifan is a beast- tempting prospect. Light at the end of the tunnel…Perhaps.

      • Oilers89

        Reminds me of Toews as well given his strength down low and how he likes to play below the goal line. More of a straight forward smooth skill forward than McDavid who dangles and is extremely explosive.

    • Reg Dunlop

      Lets hope that Fucale gets bombed tonight but CANADA WINS 5-4 in regulation and we don’t see him again!

      It is a travesty that for the KEY position of Goalie there was NO competition! Only 2 invitees…what would happen if one of them gets injured?

      Anyways…GO CANADA GO!

    • Reg Dunlop

      Don’t worry about Fucale , the Canadian coaching staff got incredibly lucky , right around the time that the team was getting picked a goaltending guru by the name of Freddie Chabot became available….problem solved!

  • KiLLKiND

    Why does Canada choose two goalies who have no reason to be even considered to be invited let alone make the team? The amount of better goalies in the WHL, OHL, and QMJHL is staggering. Hockey Canada needs to reevaluate who is in charge of goalie selection whoever it is needs to be fired and replaced immediately. Bringing two goalies that aren’t good enough has plagued Canada for the past 5 years going on 6 I’m tired of this.

    • Serious Gord

      He has not looked like the “generational player” so far.
      Early days; but the Oilers are not going to bomb another first overall pick , are they???


  • YFC Prez

    enough already about what city is nicer/crappier……lets talk hockey!!!!

    fun trivia question; how many Oilers draft picks over the last 5 years can you name that have out performed their draft position?

    you know; how many have not been a complete disappointment?