OAKVILLE, ONT. — Twenty-four players have been selected to continue with Canada’s National Junior Team on the road to the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship to be held in the Czech Republic later this month.
Team Canada’s reduced roster (here) was announced late Thursday evening, with Washington Capitals’ 2019 first round draft pick Connor McMichael being one of the twenty-four players who survived Thursday evening’s cuts.
The team will be required to make one additional cut, presumably a forward. Canada’s final 22-player roster does not need to be officially submitted to the International Ice Hockey Federation until December 25.
Team 🇨🇦 cuts done for the night
Goalies set (Daws, Hofer, Rodrigue)
Down to 7 D (Addison, Bahl, Bernard-Docker, Byram, Drysdale, McIsaac, Smith) … but still awaiting final word on Dobson
14 forwards remain so at least one more cut to come & still holding out hope for Dach
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) December 13, 2019
McMichael and 30 other Junior hopefuls from all over Canada converged on Oakville, Ontario this week to compete in the Junior Team’s four-day selection camp. The camp was held to assist in determining the team that Canada’s coach and former Washington Capital Dale Hunter will take with him to the Czech Republic.
Canada originally invited 31 players to the selection camp, but added Joe Veleno and Barrett Hayton during the week, raising the total number of roster candidates to 33 before cuts came down Thursday night.
“It’s no fun,” Hunter said of delivering bad news. “It is tough. They’re kids and they all want to play, but that’s the hard part about the job.”
“As with every year, there are difficult decisions to trim down our roster, but ultimately we believe this group will give us our best shot at a gold medal,” said Shawn Bullock, director of men’s national teams with Hockey Canada. “We will continue the process of building our team, and we look forward to an exciting World Juniors.”
NoVa Caps spoke with McMichael during this weeks camp and asked him what it would mean for him to be part of Team Canada’s National Junior Team, who opens this years tournament on December 26th against Team USA. “That would be pretty cool” McMichael said. “Obviously the rivalry that Canada and the US have and we play them boxing day (December 26th) so it would be really cool. Some guys from London were also invited to the USA camp so it would be really cool playing those guys and it’d be a dream come true for sure.”
McMichael was added to Team Canada’s World Junior summer development camp on July 8th, just a week after completing his first development camp with the Washington Capitals. He also played for Team Canada in the 2019 World Junior Summer Showcase held this past August in Plymouth, Michigan.
The week-long Sumer Showcase included 11 international games between Canada, Finland, Sweden and the United States. McMichael tallied two goals on eight shots in just two games played. His two goals was tied for ninth-best in the tournament, even though he played in just two games. (A full review of McMichael’s play in the Summer Showcase can be found here.)
McMichael would next participate in the Capitals rookie showcase tournament held in early September in Nashville,Tennessee, and then participated in this years Capitals training camp.
McMichael would also see action in this year’s Capitals preseason, opening many eyes with a no-look assist in the Capitals first preseason game.
— Washington ☃️ Capitals (@Capitals) September 17, 2019
McMichael has started his season with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) on a scoring tear. He has 25 goals and 34 assists in 27 games played, and leads the OHL in points and is second in goals. He has also scored three hat tricks so far this season. (More on his OHL season can be found in our prospect weekly recaps and monthly progress reports here.)
As for this year’s World Junior tournament, the puck will officially drop for Team Canada on Boxing Day when Canada takes on the United States at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT, followed by games against Russia, Germany and the Czech Republic to round out preliminary action.
By Jon Sorensen