Hockey Canada announced their preliminary roster for the 2011 World Junior Championships today, and although former first round picks like Erik Gudbrandson were on it, we here at TCHB are of course most concerned with the collegians listed.
Dylan Olsen, D, Minnesota-Duluth
Olsen made Canada’s camp roster last year as well, although he was not selected for the team. The Sophomore has 12 points (1 goal) in 14 games for the Bulldogs, and he has done a good job for the 2nd best defensive team in the WCHA. Brandon Gormley, who looked to be a shoo in for the team, hurt his knee over the weekend, possibly opening up a spot for Olsen. It looks to me though that he is basically fighting for one spot, as returnees Jared Cowen, Calvin de Haan and Ryan Ellis all figure to make it. I also expect Simon Despres and Erik Gudbrandson to be on the team. So it appears it is down to Olsen and Mark Pysyk for the 6th defenseman spot, depending on what happens with Gormley.
Riley Sheahan, F, Notre Dame
Canada looks like they’ll have more of a blue collar feel to this team, which helps Sheahan’s chances. He has just 5 assists in 14 games for the Irish this year, though he had a strong series over the weekend against North Dakota. He won’t bring much offensively, but I think he belongs on Team Canada as a third liner and penalty killer.
Jaden Schwartz, F, Colorado College
Schwartz is tied for 4th in the WCHA in goals, and is probably having the best Freshman season of any collegian. His 1.29 PPG is 5th in the conference, and he is doing it basically by himself, as CC is 8th in the WCHA in scoring. To me, Schwartz looks like a safe bet to be on the team. But I thought that about Louis LeBlanc last year…
Reilly Smith, F, Miami
I have to admit I didn’t even know Smith was Canadian. But the Ontario native has had a breakout season, with an 11 goal and 19 point season that is getting overshadowed by Carter Camper’s great year. I think Smith’s odds at making it are pretty long owing to his somewhat up and down track record Hockey Canada’s bias against NCAA players.
In addition, Louis LeBlanc, who left Harvard for the QMJHL last year, and Brandon Pirri, who left RPI for the pros and is in Rockford of the AHL, were also named to the roster. I think Pirri will make the team, and I will withhold judgment on LeBlanc because if last year is any indication, I have no idea what to make of him. Though I will say I would take him if I were in Hockey Canada’s shoes.