It’s late October, Thanksgiving tournaments are behind us and all leagues are underway. It’s a great time of year.
As of this writing, it is 66 days to the World Junior Championship in Montreal and Toronto. The excitement will start to really build in the next few weeks. Already there is talk about the players in the NHL that are eligible to play (not just for Canada) and the list is impressive.
A quick look at some of the Canadians: Nathan MacKinnon and Sean Monahan (zero chance they go). Some players that I bet are more than 50 percent likely to be released include Drouin, Horvat, Lazar, and Sam Reinhart. I also bet Ekblad stays in Florida, but as a fan, I hope he gets released.
There is a who’s who list of players on the bubble for being released by their NHL team or not from other countries. Some include, Draisaitl, Ristolainen, Nichuskin, Burakovsky, Dano, and Yakimov.
It will be really interesting to see how Team Canada picks their roster. In the past couple of years with no medals there have been all kinds of “experts” blaming the roster decisions and goaltending. At the end of the day, the margin of victory at this event is so slim that one bad goal or a poor performance by a star player or a 16-year-old can be the difference between a shot at Gold and losing the Bronze game.
When all is said and done, every time Canada has hosted the event, Canada has won a medal. Canada has hosted the event 11 times and won three Golds, five Silvers, and three Bronzes. It’s very interesting that Canada has lost the Gold medal game five times as the host country. I always think that we are tough as nails and give us home ice advantage and we are a lock. But when looking at the results this week, I realized that wasn’t quite the case. This speaks to how much pressure these teenagers play under and how much parity there is in the top eight hockey countries in the world.
Still, I am super pumped to take in this year’s event in a time zone that won’t make me too sleep deprived.
Tons more hockey is coming down the pipe, too. I love the fact that the U17 is now only eight teams, three from Canada, and the fact that they moved it away from Christmas. This should really raise the profile and give the fans a solid undistracted look at these world class players before they get drafted and before their World Junior appearance. I, for one, am really pleased with this move.
The Subway Super Series, which is more competitive lately, is coming down in November in Saskatoon, Brandon, Peterborough, Kingston, Acadie-Bathurst and Rimouski. Doesn’t that list just scream great Canadian hockey towns? The series should feature some amazing talent headed for the 2015 draft.
And without much delay there will be a myriad of top shelf Christmas tournaments. It’s an exciting time when minor hockey teams really start to separate themselves.
All in all a tremendous time of year.
Last but not least, we are very excited to announce our preliminary list for the HockeyNow Minor Hockey Player of the Year. Once again, our committee is chaired by Dave Babych and made up of scouts across Canada. Special thanks go to our friends at International Scouting Services. They are a big part of identifying players in B.C. and Alberta that are in their WHL Draft year and Ontario players in their OHL Draft year. Early reports are in and the list and talent of players this year from coast to coast will be excellent.
We will start our monthly rankings in November. Stay tuned in print and on our site under the events section.
Enjoy this time of year. It goes by fast!
1) Top Rookie Talent Ready to Crack WHL
2) Puck Dropping on 2017-18 BCHL Season
3) Chilliwack Chiefs Gear Up to Host 2018 RBC Cup
4) Maschmeyer Adjusting to New Future with Former Rival Canadiennes
5) Puck Drop Edition: Gear Up for the Minor Hockey Season