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2011 Canadian World Junior Championship roster includes four players from last year’s silver medal squad

It’s not often that the United States can claim the status of “solid favorites” over “scrappy underdogs” in any hockey tournament in which Canada is given a fair chance to compete. Considering the fact that the U.S. managed to win a gold medal in Canada during the 2010 World Junior Championships – and they’ll bring back a bunch of important cogs from that team – it seems like the team might just be the odds-on winners for the 2011 tournament in Buffalo.

(Don’t get lazy though, American hockey fans. Let’s not forget that the Sabres bolster some of their attendance numbers based on the fact that Buffalo is conveniently located close to puck-possessed Canada.)

That being said, taking any group of players with a red maple leaf (sorry Toronto) on their chest is a fool’s errand. Team Canada announced its 22-man 2011 roster today, a group that includes four players who were part of the team that just barely lost to the gold medal winning Americans in overtime.

Forward Brayden Schenn and defensemen Jared Cowen, Ryan Ellis and Calvin de Haan were named Wednesday as part of the 22-man roster that will travel to Buffalo for this year’s World Juniors, which runs Dec. 26 to Jan. 5, 2011 in Buffalo.

Players, coach Dave Cameron and Hockey Canada officials officially unveiled the team — 13 forwards, seven defenseman and two goalies — Wednesday at a press conference at the MasterCard Center in Etobicoke, Ont.

The roster includes 15 first round draft picks from previous entry drafts and also boasts one player who might just end up the No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft: Sean Couturier. Twenty out of the 22 players play in the Canadian Hockey League, with only Jaden Schwartz and Dylan Olsen coming from the NCAA.

Here is the full roster, including their current junior team or college team (and also with the NHL teams that drafted them in parenthesis) via NHL.com.

GOALTENDERS — Olivier Roy, Acadie-Bathurst, QMJHL (Oilers); Mark Visentin, Niagara, OHL (Coyotes).

DEFENSEMEN — Tyson Barrie, Kelowna, WHL (Avalanche); Jared Cowen, Spokane, WHL (Senators); Calvin de Haan, Oshawa, OHL (Islanders); Simon Despres, Saint John, QMJHL (Penguins); Ryan Ellis, Windsor, OHL (Predators); Erik Gudbranson, Kingston, OHL (Panthers); Dylan Olsen, Minnesota-Duluth, WCHA (Blackhawks).

FORWARDS — Carter Ashton, Tri-City, WHL (Lightning); Casey Cizikas, Mississauga St. Michael’s, OHL (Islanders); Brett Connolly, Prince George, WHL Lightning; Sean Couturier, Drummondville, QMJHL (2011 Draft eligible); Cody Eakin, Swift Current, WHL (Capitals); Marcus Foligno, Sudbury, OHL (Sabres); Curtis Hamilton, Saskatoon, WHL (Oilers); Quinton Howden, Moose Jaw, WHL (Panthers); Ryan Johansen, Portland, WHL (Blue Jackets); Zack Kassian, Windsor, OHL (Sabres); Louis Leblanc, Montreal, QMJHL (Canadiens); Brayden Schenn, Brandon, WHL (Kings); Jaden Schwartz, Colorado College, WCHA (Blues).

After looking at that roster, I’m not so sure the U.S. should be too cocky. Do you think the favorites will be the defending gold medal winning Americans, the perennial powerhouse from Canada or someone else such as Russia or Sweden? Let us know in the comments.

Canucks without Sutter (broken jaw), Edler (foot) for foreseeable future

Brandon Sutter
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After a good Tuesday night, the Vancouver Canucks are having a lousy Wednesday morning.

The club has just announced that center Brandon Sutter and defenseman Alex Edler have been sent home from the club’s current two-game road swing, after suffering injuries in a win over Colorado last night.

Craig Oster, Sutter’s agent, told News 1130 his client has a broken jaw after taking a puck to the face. Per TSN, Edler is undergoing “imaging” on his foot following a blocked shot, but it’s believed he’ll be out the next 2-3 weeks.

The impact of these injuries could be profound.

Vancouver hasn’t been good this year but remains in the thick of the playoff chase, sitting just four points back of the Avs for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference — with three games in hand.

At the same time, the Canucks also have two potentially big trade chips at the deadline in pending UFAs Dan Hamhuis and Radim Vrbata.

Will the Sutter and Edler injuries factor into Vancouver’s future plans?

You’d have to think so.

Edler is a staple on the back end, leading all Canuck blueliners in points (20) and TOI per game (24:27). Sutter, meanwhile, was supposed to be a key piece of the club this year but has had most of his season ravaged by injury — prior to the broken jaw, he missed 33 games following sports hernia surgery.

All told, Sutter has appeared in just 20 games this year.

His is also the second major facial injury suffered by a Canuck this season — Hamhuis only recently returned from a 21-game absence after taking a puck to the face in mid-December.

Kings place Ehrhoff on waivers

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 05:  Nick Bonino #13 of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Christian Ehrhoff #10 of the Los Angeles Kings head for the piuck during the first period at Staples Center on December 5, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Los Angeles Kings have placed defenseman Christian Ehrhoff on waivers, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

A veteran of almost 800 NHL games, Ehrhoff has not fit well with Los Angeles after signing a one-year, $1.5 million deal in August. The 33-year-old has just 11 points in 40 games and is a team-worst minus-10. Though he had two assists in last night’s 9-2 win over the Bruins, he also took a careless tripping penalty in the first period that led to a Boston goal.

In a related story, the Kings are rumored to be looking for help on the back end. In fact, they were reportedly quite interested in Dustin Byfuglien, before he re-signed with the Jets.

According to Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider, 23-year-old defenseman Kevin Gravel is “on the verge of a recall” from AHL Ontario.

The Kings play Thursday in Brooklyn.

Report: Kadri’s throat-slashing gesture being reviewed by NHL

Nazem Kadri
AP
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Nazem Kadri‘s throat-slashing gesture is under review by the NHL, according to TSN.ca.

The Maple Leafs forward made the gesture while sitting on Toronto’s bench last night in Calgary, moments after he was laid out by Flames captain Mark Giordano.

The NHL first started cracking down on the throat-slashing gesture in 2000. Former NHLer Nick Boyton was suspended twice for making the gesture, first in 2006 then again in 2010. He was banned one game for each incident.

Fix coming? Blues activate Schwartz after 49-game absence

Jaden Schwartz
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After Tuesday’s loss to the Jets — the Blues’ fourth in their last six games — head coach Ken Hitchcock said his club has “got to play harder than this” and “got to compete at a lot higher level than this.”

He then added “it’s up to us to fix it.”

Well, help is on the way.

On Wednesday, the Blues activated forward Jaden Schwartz off injured reserve, after he missed the last 49 contests with a fractured left ankle. Schwartz is expected to be in the lineup on Friday when the Blues take on the Panthers in Florida.

The 23-year-old should provide an immediate boost to the lineup. Schwartz had four points in seven games before getting hurt, and that came on the heels of a successful ’14-15 campaign in which he posted career highs in goals (28) and points (63).

The Blues’ first-round pick in 2010 (14th overall), Schwartz is a 17-18 TOI per night guy, so he’ll be a big presence almost immediately. His return also inches the team back to full health, though there’s still a ways to go — Alex Pietrangelo and Jake Allen are still week-to-week with knee and lower-body injuries, while Steve Ott is out until late February following hamstrings surgery.

Related: Armstrong wants Blues to get healthy before any trades are made