For the first time in five years, Canada will have two 17-year-olds in the lineup for the world junior tournament, after the Halifax Mooseheads pair of Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin both made the cut for the 2013 tournament in Ufa, Russia.
Canada dropped eight more players Thursday, following a 2-0 exhibition win over a Canadian university selects team – and a couple of the decisions came as minor surprises.
Edmonton Oil Kings goaltender Laurent Brossoit was the odd man out, despite having a solid camp. Canada will go with three players from the OHL: Malcolm Subban (Belleville Bulls), Jake Paterson (Saginaw Spirit) and Jordan Binnington (Owen Sound Attack).
Binnington gave up both goals Thursday. Paterson had the strongest camp of all and did not surrender a goal on 33 shots.
On the blueline, another player who'd had a good three days – Frank Corrado of the Sudbury Wolves – didn't survive either. (Corrado is a fifth-round pick of the Vancouver Canucks and versatile, but not especially big.) The other defencemen released were Ryan Sproul (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) and Mathew Dumba (Red Deer Rebels).
Up front, the final four players dropped were: Mark McNeill (Prince Albert Raiders), Tom Wilson (Plymouth Whalers), Hunter Shinkaruk (Medicine Hat Tigers) and Daniel Catenacci (Owen Sound).
Shinkaruk is also an NHL draft-eligible player, like MacKinnon and Drouin, and though he made his presence felt, it was unlikely Canada was prepared to go that young on its final roster.
In 2008, the last time the national squad had a pair of 17-year-olds on the roster, they were Steven Stamkos and John Tavares, who were back-to-back No. 1 overall NHL draft choices.
Because of the current NHL lockout, Hockey Canada applied for Russian visas for all 36 players attending the camp, just in case the owners and players settle their dispute and the season starts before the world junior tournament ends.
Several players – notably Morgan Rielly (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Boone Jenner (Columbus Blue Jackets) – have been told by their NHL teams they would not be recalled from Russia, no matter what happens with the lockout.
"It's a tough decision, they said it was one of the toughest they had to make," the disappointed Corrado said. "You can always take that, but … obviously, I'm not happy I'm not on the team. But I thought it was a good camp, nonetheless."
For his part, Broissoit wasn't sure why he drew the short straw, after showing well in camp. Among goalies, he had the second-lowest save percentage. "You wonder what else you could have done," he said, "but it is what it is."