The annual World Junior Hockey Championships have been completed, with Canada capturing the gold medal. Now that the tournament is out of the way, the international hockey world turns its attention to the Winter Olympics next month in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
The United States has announced their roster, but might need some injury replacements. Canada is expected to announce their roster next week. Could a Calgary Flames prospect, or two, make their way to the Olympics?
Earlier this week, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman discussed Canada’s Spengler Cup win and the inclusion of college players in the American Olympic roster. From 31 Thoughts:
13. That brings us to the juniors. Team USA has four NCAA players on the roster: Will Borgen (St. Cloud State), Ryan Donato (Harvard), Jordan Greenway (Boston University) and Troy Terry (Denver). It’s not going to be a good look if Canada doesn’t get similar help. To be fair, one junior executive said they want to make sure any player who goes has a role, and it’s not time wasted. That’s not unreasonable, especially since they will be competing against men on an international ice surface.
So, the question becomes: who can do it? I put the question to three NHL amateur scouts/executives who are at the event. One picked Cale Makar as a power-play specialist, although he added that Makar is still very young and hasn’t faced a ton of elite competition. The second took Jordan Kyrou, with the possibility of Dillon Dube in a smaller, energy role. The third chose Victor Mete, although you wonder if Mete’s injury clouds all this.
Earlier this week, the Canadian Hockey League confirmed to The Hockey News’ Ken Campbell that juniors can go to the Olympics. Reportedly, there are five roster sports still being mulled over by Hockey Canada’s management group – and some of those spots may be juniors.
If Team Canada will include some teens, who better than Dube? A versatile forward who just captained Team Canada to a gold medal, he’s represented Canada on three occasions at big events and has been extensively scouted for said events by Hockey Canada. He’s a reliable, useful player, and at this point Canada’s management team probably has a pretty strong handle on him as a player.
Fox was not named to USA Hockey’s Olympic roster last week, but an injury to blueliner Ryan Gunderson in Europe may open the door for him.
USA Hockey could be in need of a replacement D. Ryan Gunderson out 4-6 weeks w/fractured finger https://t.co/palXrwfbTz
— Sean Leahy (@Sean_Leahy) January 5, 2018
Unlikely @usahockey will need a replacement for D Ryan Gunderson on men's Olympic team. Team said 4-6 wks for his broken finger, but he's only in a splint for 3 wks, will be skating entire time. Plenty of time, Olympics are in 5.5 wks.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) January 5, 2018
In the event that Gunderson’s not good to go to South Korea, Fox could work – though he’s less of a slam dunk fit than Dube. He’s a right shot while Gunderson is a leftie, and five of the eight defenders on the American roster are already righties. There may also be some concern on the Harvard side at losing both leading scorer Ryan Donato and Fox to the Olympics, as they’d lose their two best players for the latter parts of their conference’s season. But like Dube, he’s a well-known commodity in USA Hockey circles – two seasons in the vaunted National Development Program and he’s four medals for the USA at international tournaments over the past four seasons.