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.