Getting ready for the 2022 tournament, here is a list of the top five Team Canada World Juniors prospects to watch. We know there is a long list of participants not at this summer’s tourney. Players such as Shane Wright, Owen Power, or Kaiden Guhle will not participate as they prepare for the upcoming NHL season. Also, the top two picks from the 2022 draft, Slovaks Juraj Slafkovsky and Simon Nemec not being here will diminish their country’s chances. Furthermore, Latvia is at the tournament instead of Russia due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. However, despite the long list of players unable to attend, this tournament is still loaded with talent and top prospects. Let’s take a look at the top five prospects that will suit up for Canada.
Team Canada Prospects to Watch
We have to start at the top, with Connor Bedard the frontrunner as the 2023 first overall pick. He only turned 17 in July, and last season, put up 51 goals in 62 games for his Regina Pats team of the WHL. To compare, Sidney Crosby netted 54 goals in his 16-year-old season playing in the QMJHL. By the way, he was the first ever player granted exceptional status to play in the WHL. The traditionally big and physical league has not slowed Bedard down, who at 181 lbs, only looks to continue to get stronger. Bedard does not shy away from high traffic or the middle of the ice. Additionally, he has the shot to score from all areas. Look for him to help drive Canada’s offence within the top-six forwards, as Canada will have many players who can put up big points.
Here is a player with plenty of experience even at his young age. Kent Johnson has played two seasons with the Trail Smoke Eaters in the BCHL and two college seasons at Michigan. This has allowed him to play plenty against top competition. Furthermore, the 9 games he has played with Columbus have given him the knowledge of what is like to play a strong style of play, which will be a huge asset in this tournament. He has been described as a fearless player, with plenty of speed and a great first step. He will have the confidence to help lead the play for Canada, whichever of the top assignments he is given.
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) August 8, 2022
He is Swiss born and raised, and also a Canadian. Mason McTavish’s formal training years were done in Canada in Ottawa and Pembroke. Moving onto his junior career, in the 2022 Memorial Cup, his Hamilton Bulldogs side lost to host Saint John Sea Dogs in the championship game. He has been a dominant force and the offensive leader of the Bulldogs, supported by his 16 goals in 19 post-season matchups in the OHL playoffs. Furthermore, he can control the game by misdirecting opponents and can be classified as a net-driven forward. He will look to apply these abilities for Canada in a top-offensive role. Currently, he is under his ELC with the Anaheim Ducks, and his 9 games of experience with them will only benefit him going forward.
The next forward of Team Canada prospects upper echelon is Brennan Othmann. He is a first-round pick, 16th overall by the New York Rangers in the 2021 draft. In his draft season, he had been playing pro in Switzerland. In the second division, the Swiss League, he accumulated 7 goals, 16 points, in 34 games, and, an impressive 64 PIM displaying toughness against men. This past year he scored 50 goals while playing with the Flint Firebirds of the OHL. Aside from the stats, Othmann is a winger that loves to lead the breakout and plays at top speed. He plays an intense game and looks to bring that style to the Canadian lineup. This will allow the team to establish their aggressiveness and puck pressure in this tournament, rolling through a four-line game.
It seems that the general consensus is the Anaheim second-round, 2021 draft pick is the top defenseman NHL prospect on this team Canada roster. At 5’9” he may be a bit small for a defenseman, however, given the reliance on skating, and being quick on your edges in today’s game he should overcome any questions on his size. Typically smaller defensemen have no problem at this level, and people suspect Zellweger will be no exception, perhaps Danny Syvret‘s name comes to mind. In addition, he is coming off a huge season for his club, Everett Silvertips. He finished third in team scoring with 78 points in just 55 contests.
Honourable Mention and Goaltenders
Aside from the top-five prospects, and despite missing other top eligible players, team Canada is still very deep. Two honourable mentions for the top five is Lukas Cormier and Joshua Roy. First of all, Cormier had a dominating performance with 21 points in 15 QMJHL playoff games for the Charlottetown Islanders. Next, Roy is coming off a huge 119-point campaign for Sherbrooke Phoenix. Another point is team Canada’s goaltending is quite strong. Each of the three Brett Brochu, Dylan Garand, or Sebastian Cossa could emerge as the starter. Whoever ends up with the task of important elimination games, could see their stock rise substantially.
What Does This Mean for Canada in this Tournament
These are the top-five prospects for the 2022 Team Canada World Junior Championship (version 2.0). Each of these players has earned the right to lead their country into this tournament. These players will look to start their 2022-23 seasons off with a bang, and a championship will help to boost their respective confidence.