Team Canada has announced the invitees for the World Junior Championships U-20 training camp. Among the 32 players invited are six Tampa Bay Lightning prospects. That’s three more players than any other NHL organization. The Montreal Canadiens and Carolina Hurricanes each have three representatives.
Goaltender Connor Ingram, along with forwards Anthony Cirelli, Brett Howden, Mathieu Joseph, Taylor Raddysh, and Mitchell Stephens, are the Lightning invitees. Taylor Raddysh was the only player of the six that did not participate in Team Canada’s pre-season camp. Defenseman Matthew Spencer was at that camp, but was not brought back for the training camp prior to the tournament.
Team Canada will have to trim down their roster to 22 players. The roster will likely be made up of two goaltenders, seven defensemen, and thirteen forwards. The players will go for a four day camp from December 11th to December 14th. They will play two exhibition games before the team finalizes their roster. Team Canada will open their tournament with Team Russia on December 26th in Toronto.
Goaltender, Kamloops Blazers, WHL, 11-9-1-0, 2.19 GAA, .932 SV%
Ingram was a third round pick of the Lightning in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. He was an overage selection and will be eligible to play in the AHL full time in 2017-18. The Blazers are currently third in their division with a 14-12-1-0 record. Ingram is currently third in the WHL in GAA and second in save percentage. He’ll be in a battle to claim one of the two goaltender spots on Team Canada’s roster.
Center, Oshawa Generals, OHL, 22GP, 13G-17A-30P, +17, 8 PIMs
The Captain of the Generals, Cirelli was a third round pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Projected as a bottom six energy forward, Cirelli has had a solid start to his year, putting up over a point per game. Oshawa currently sits first in their division with a 16-7-0-2 record. Their 34 points is tops in the conference and fifth overall in the OHL. Cirelli can fill a bottom-six role for Team Canada and has a good chance of making the team.
Center, Moose Jaw Warriors, WHL, 13GP, 11G-9A-20P, +3, 8 PIMs
Howden was a first round selection of the Lightning in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. He has dealt with some injuries in his first year as Captain of the Moose Jaw Warriors, replacing fellow Lightning draftee Brayden Point in that role. Howden is a solid two-way center with size, and projects as a future second line center in the NHL. He has good offensive instincts and plays a responsible game. He’ll be in the mix to be a top center for the team, but will have stiff competition from players like Dylan Strome and Mathew Barzal. However, the camp roster has a lot of centers and inevitably some of them will play on the wing. The World Junior Championship is also a tournament that is typically dominated by 19 year olds.
Right Wing, Saint John Sea Dogs, QMJHL, 23 GP, 22G-13A-35P, +16, 23 PIMs
A fourth round pick in the 2015 draft, Joseph has had a bit of a surprise offensive breakout in his 19 year old season. After putting up 73 points in 58 games a year ago, he has continued to produce at a high level. He is currently in a three way tie for the QMJHL goal scoring lead. As a 19 year old, he will have a good chance at making the team and providing some depth offense on a talented roster.
Right Wing, Erie Otters, OHL, 23GP, 20G-30A-50P, +29, 15 PIMs
A second round pick in the 2016 draft, Raddysh has exploded for the Erie Otters. He’s been on a line with fellow second rounder Alex DeBrincat and has now been joined by fellow Team Canada camper Dylan Strome. Raddysh is currently in the lead for the OHL scoring race and is second in goal scoring to linemate DeBrincat.
As a natural winger and having a familiarity with Strome, Raddysh could play his way into a top line spot with Strome. He was not on the radar for Team Canada over the summer, but his offensive explosion has brought him to their attention. Raddysh is already just 23 points from matching his point total from 67 games last season.
Center, Saginaw Spirit, OHL, 20GP, 10G-15A-25P, +11, 14 PIMs
A second round pick in the 2015 draft, Stephens has been compared favorably with current Lightning player Ryan Callahan. He plays a north-south style game and is solid defensively. He is the lone Lightning invitee that played for Team Canada last season. He made last season’s team despite missing most of the beginning of the season with a broken foot, and should be a lock to make the team again. While not as flashy offensively, he is a very responsible player and would provide a solid bottom six center and penalty killer for an otherwise deep offensive forward corps.