John Tavares headlines a list of 38 players invited to take part in Canada's National Junior Selection Camp from December 11-15, 2008 in Ottawa.
Tavares, a scoring star with the OHL's Oshawa Generals, is one of four returning players from the Canadian team that won gold in last year's tournament. The other veterans are Zach Boychuk, Thomas Hickey and P.K. Subban.
Thirty-one of the players named to the selection camp roster were drafted in either the 2007 or 2008 NHL Entry Draft, including thirteen first round picks and eight second round selections.
Hockey Canada still has the option to add additional players prior to the opening of the selection camp on December 11th, should any NHL teams loan junior-aged eligible players currently playing in the NHL. There are currently eight players in the NHL with tournament eligibility: Kyle Turris (Phoenix Coyotes); Colton Gillies (Minnesota Wild); Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay Lightning); Brandon Sutter (Carolina Hurricanes); Drew Doughty (Los Angeles Kings); Luke Schenn (Toronto Maple Leafs); Josh Bailey (NY Islanders); and Sam Gagner (Edmonton Oilers).
The focus on Wednesday, however, was on those invited to the December camp.
"On behalf of Hockey Canada, I would like to congratulate the players named today, along with their club teams, their parents and all the minor hockey coaches and officials who helped them along with the way," said Brad Pascall, Hockey Canada's senior director of men's national teams. "I would also like to make special note of the great partnership that Hockey Canada has with the Canadian Hockey League, which is essential to the success of the Program of Excellence."
"Hockey Canada's Program of Excellence, which includes our Under-17 and Under-18 Programs, has provided many of these players with the preparation and experience for to deal with the rigors of the upcoming World Juniors and high paced international competition," said Al Murray, Head Scout for Canada's National Men's Teams. "The quality and skill of the 38 players invited to the camp next week is a testament of the hard work, commitment and development of all those involved in the Canadian minor hockey and junior hockey system."
Murray traveled coast to coast during the first part of the hockey season assessing players in preparation of the Selection Camp.
Head coach Pat Quinn was excited to be working with Hockey Canada and the national junior team.
"It's a pleasure for me to be involved with this program," Quinn said. "In 1999 at the summit in Toronto we heard how lousy we were doing as far as developing our hockey players. Well, I'm here to tell you that that was a myth. We are doing a wonderful job and we continue to learn how to do it better and better. And our young kids are getting better and better."
Quinn said the players available to him have many different skills sets, which will allow the team to employ whatever style is needed to win.
"We can play tactically, technically, with any team in the world," Quinn said. "But we also can play the Canadian way, which puts a little emphasis on our physical play. And that's exactly how we're going to play, hopefully... winning a gold medal."
Roster Breakdown from Hockey Canada
Returning 2008 National Junior Team players:
4 - Zach Boychuk, Thomas Hickey, PK Subban, John Tavares
Players who took part in the ADT CHL Canada/Russia Challenge (29) :
G - Allen, Pickard, Tokarski
D - Aulie, Cuma, Ellis, Hamonic, Hickey, Marshall, Myers, Pietrangelo, Subban, Teubert
F - Arniel, Benn, Boychuk, Calvert, Cormier, Della Rovere, Duchene, Eberle, Ennis, Esposito, Hall, Hodsgon, Schenn, Sonne, Tavares, Tyrell
Minor Hockey / Hockey Canada Branch breakdown:
12 - Ontario Hockey Federation
8 - Hockey Alberta
6 - BC Hockey
3 - Saskatchewan Hockey Association
3 - Hockey Manitoba
2 - Hockey Quebec
2 - Ottawa District Hockey Association
2 - Hockey New Brunswick
Where they are playing:
18 players from the Western Hockey League (WHL)
11 players from the Ontario Hockey League (OHL)
5 players from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL)
4 players from U.S. College Hockey (NCAA)
Program of Excellence experience:
Twenty-one of the 38 players have played for Canada's National Under-18 Team;
Thirty (30) of the 38 players have been involved in Canada's Regional Under-17 Program of Excellence;
Six players - Benn, DiDomenico, Pickard, Spurgeon, Tokarski, Wiercioch - invited to Selection Camp will be looking for their first ever experience on a regional or national team;
Seven (7) players (Aulie, Della Rovere, Hickey, Hodgson, Marshall, Pietrangelo, Tyrell) are currently captains of their respective teams, and thirteen (13) players are alternate captains;
Average age: 18 years, 11 months, 1 day (as of Dec. 26, 2008);
By year of birth: 1989 (20 players); 1990 (13 players), 1991 (5 players)
Average height: 6'0"
Average weight: 188 lbs
NHL Entry Draft information:
Thirty-one (31) of the 38 players invited to camp have been drafted in either the 2007 or 2008 NHL Entry Drafts;
Thirteen (13) of the 31 NHL drafted players were 1st Round NHL Draft Picks, eight (8) players are 2nd Round NHL Draft Picks, and two (2) were selected in the Third Round;
Seven undrafted players will be at Canada's Selection Camp, including six who are eligible for the 2009 NHL Entry Draft and one who will be eligible for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft;
The NHL's St. Louis Blues have the most drafted players invited Canada's 2008 selection camp, with three, while Buffalo, Columbus, Edmonton, Los Angeles Kings, New York Islanders and Tampa Bay will have two prospects at camp.