There were few surprises among the players named to Team Canada for the World Under 18's that take place in the Czech Republic later this month. Canada is in such a position of strength, due to the talent pool they can access for an event like this. So, the lack of surprises shouldn't really be too surprising, so to speak.
Here is how the roster shapes up:
# Player S/C Ht. Wt. Birthdate Hometown/Country Team/Organization
1 Spencer Martin L 6'2 190 06/09/1995 Oakville, Ont. Mississauga St. Michael's (OHL)
29 Brandon Whitney L 6'5 191 05/11/1994 Centreville, N.S. Victoriaville (QMJHL)
30 Matt Murray L 6'4 162 05/25/1994 Thunder Bay, Ont. Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
2 Darnell Nurse L 6'4 180 02/04/1995 Hamilton, Ont. Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
5 Damon Severson R 6'2 198 8/7/1994 Melville, Sask. Kelowna (WHL)
6 Josh Morrissey L 6'0 184 03/28/1995 Calgary, Alta. Prince Albert (WHL)
7 Warren Steele L 6'0 187 05/16/1994 Williamsburg, Ont. Kingston (OHL)
24 Mathew Dumba R 6'0 183 07/25/1994 Calgary, Alta. Red Deer (WHL)
27 Adam Pelech L 6'2 210 08/18/1994 Toronto, Ont. Erie (OHL)
9 Anthony Mantha L 6'3 178 09/16/1994 Longueuil, Que. Val-d'Or (QMJHL)
10 Brendan Gaunce L 6'2 212 03/25/1994 Markham, Ont. Belleville (OHL)
11 Branden Troock R 6'2 174 03/20/1994 Edmonton, Alta. Seattle (WHL)
12 Kerby Rychel L 6'1 200 10/07/1994 Tecumseh, Ont. Windsor (OHL)
14 Scott Kosmachuk R 5'11 185 01/24/1994 Toronto, Ont. Guelph (OHL)
15 Mike Winther L 5'11 170 7/9/94 Trochu, Alta. Prince Albert (WHL)
18 Gemel Smith L 5'11 161 04/16/1994 Toronto, Ont. Owen Sound (OHL)
19 Troy Bourke L 5'10 180 3/30/94 Onoway, Alta. Prince George (WHL)
21 Scott Laughton L 6'0 178 05/30/1994 Oakville, Ont. Oshawa (OHL)
23 Sam Reinhart R 6'1 177 11/06/1995 West Vancouver, B.C. Kootenay (WHL)
25 William Carrier L 6'0 205 12/20/94 Pierrefonds, Que. Cape Breton (QMJHL)
Jesse Wallin , Head Coach Saskatoon, Sask. Red Deer (WHL)
Gord Dwyer , Assistant Coach Dalhousie, N.B. P.E.I. (QMJHL)
Todd Gill , Assistant Coach Brockville, Ont. Kingston (OHL)
As the title states, the list includes 7 WHL players. The biggest strength for the WHL group is on the blueline as it's headlined by Mathew Dumba of the Red Deer Rebels, a guy I would expect to be named as the captain of the squad. Also on the blueline are Damon Severson of the Kelowna Rockets and Josh Morrissey of the Prince Albert Raiders.
Up front, the WHL guys are headlined by another member of the Raiders, Mike Winther. Winther could find his name called in round one of the NHL draft this coming June after putting together a very solid campaign. The other WHL forwards named to the squad are Branden Troock of the Seattle Thunderbirds, Troy Bourke of the Prince George Cougars and Sam Reinhart of the Kootenay Ice.
I would say there were five guys that would have been on the bubble from the WHL, in my opinion. Those guys that never had their name called were Coda Gordon of the Swift Current Broncos, Ryan Olsen of the Saskatoon Blades, Brett Kulak of the Vancouver Giants, Chris Driedger of the Calgary Hitmen and Steven Hodges of the Victoria Royals. I'm sure all five were discussed as possible candidates. With that being said, Hockey Canada basically has the ability to hand pick specific guys for specific roles and in the end, it's a very tough team to crack.
Another interesting thing to point out is that it's a very young group heading to the event for Canada, atleast in regards to the NHL draft. For the WHL players going, Morrissey isn't draft eligible until the 2013 draft, while Sam Reinhart isn't even draft eligible until 2014. They are both fantastic players as I think Morrissey has a shot at being a mid-first rounder next year and Reinhart is a WHL rookie of the year candidate this season and will likely be a top 10 pick (at worst) in 2014.
It's a fun tournament to follow every year and I think the WHL can once again be proud of the crop that they are sending. It's also a testament to the WHL's draft eligible depth for 2012 as guys like Griffin Reinhart, Morgan Rielly and Derrick Pouliot all can't take part because of the WHL playoffs. All three of those guys are sure-fire 1st round picks this year.
For more information on the event, you can visit Hockey Canada's website. The event kicks off for Canada with a preliminary game against Denmark one week from today, on April 12th.