The first axe has fallen on Canada’s World Junior hopefuls.
Team Canada head coach Tim Hunter made the first four cuts to his roster of 34 players following Thursday’s exhibition game in Victoria against U Sports All-Stars, as he inches closer to the 22-man roster needed for the start of the tournament.
Defencemen Calen Addison (Lethbridge, WHL) and Cameron Crotty (Boston University, NCAA) were both let go, as were forwards Ty Dellandrea (Flint, OHL) and Raphael Lavoie (Halifax, QMJHL).
Addison, a second-round pick by the Pittsburgh Penguins, is eligible to return next year. So is Lavoie, who is expected to be a first-round pick at the draft in Vancouver in June. Dellandrea, a 13th overall draft pick by Dallas, was the biggest name cut. Crotty was a third-round pick of the Arizona Coyotes in 2017.
Canada is left with 17 forwards, 10 defencemen, and three goalies. With eight cuts left to come, they’ll let go one goalie and seven more skaters.
Some of those decisions could be made for them, via injury.
Alex Formenton, one of two returnees from last year’s roster, was injured during Wednesday’s exhibition clash against U Sports. He was seen with a knee brace and crutches on Thursday, though the severity of his injury is not yet known.
Canada won their first exhibition game 3-2 against U Sports on Wednesday, but dropped Thursday’s game 5-3.
Two of Canada’s most promising forwards are banged up. Jaret Anderson-Dolan, who suited up for five games with the LA Kings this season, has an injured wrist and hasn’t participated in either exhibition game yet. Neither has Gabriel Vilardi, an 11th overall pick by the Kings in June, who is recovering from an injured back.
Both appear to be nearing a return though.
Jaret Anderson-Dolan (wrist) and Gabe Vilardi (back) hit the ice for the first time at Team 🇨🇦 camp tonight. Neither of the LAK prospects participated in either of two team practices today but are working individually with coaches now. pic.twitter.com/8MVqFeszH3
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) December 12, 2018
If Anderson-Dolan, Vilardi, and Formenton can get healthy, they’ll be on the team.
While the goal is to pare down the team well in advance of the tournament opener on December 26, Canada can wait until the eve of the tournament to finalize their roster.
Seven players with ties to Canadian NHL teams are still in camp, including goaltenders Michael DiPietro (Vancouver Canucks) and Ian Scott (Toronto Maple Leafs), defencemen Jacob Bernard-Docker (Ottawa Senators), Evan Bouchard (Edmonton Oilers), and Josh Brook (Montreal Canadiens), as well as forwards Formenton (Ottawa Senators) and Nick Suzuki (Montreal Canadiens).
The full list of players remaining in camp include:
|Michael DiPietro||Goaltender||Windsor (OHL)|
|Ian Scott||Goaltender||Prince Albert (WHL)|
|Matthew Villalta||Goaltender||Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)|
|Nicolas Beaudin||Defence||Drummondville (QMJHL)|
|Jacob Bernard-Docker||Defence||University of North Dakota (NCHC)|
|Evan Bouchard||Defence||London (OHL)|
|Josh Brook||Defence||Moose Jaw (WHL)|
|Noah Dobson||Defence||Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL)|
|Pierre-Olivier Joseph||Defence||Charlottetown (QMJHL)|
|Jared McIsaac||Defence||Halifax (QMJHL)|
|Ian Mitchell||Defence||University of Denver (NCHC)|
|Markus Phillips||Defence||Owen Sound (OHL)|
|Ty Smith||Defence||Spokane (WHL)|
|Jaret Anderson-Dolan||Forward||Spokane (WHL)|
|Shane Bowers||Forward||Boston University (HE)|
|Maxime Comtois||Forward||Drummondville (QMJHL)|
|MacKenzie Entwistle||Forward||Hamilton (OHL)|
|Alex Formenton||Forward||London (OHL)|
|Liam Foudy||Forward||London (OHL)|
|Morgan Frost||Forward||Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)|
|Cody Glass||Forward||Portland (WHL)|
|Barrett Hayton||Forward||Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)|
|Alexis Lafrenière||Forward||Rimouski (QMJHL)|
|Brett Leason||Forward||Prince Albert (WHL)|
|Isaac Ratcliffe||Forward||Guelph (OHL)|
|Jack Studnicka||Forward||Oshawa (OHL)|
|Nick Suzuki||Forward||Owen Sound (OHL)|
|Owen Tippett||Forward||Mississauga (OHL)|
|Joe Veleno||Forward||Drummondville (QMJHL)|
|Gabe Vilardi||Forward||Los Angeles (NHL)|