Dean and I discussed the list earlier today, each of us seeing a couple of areas where players we would have invited were not and also a couple of interesting additions that caught us a bit by surprise.
The four goalies invited are the same four who were involved in the summer sessions - Dustin Tokarski, Chet Pickard, Jake Allen and Tyson Sexsmith. Hard to say that any of the four don't deserve the recognition to be invited but my first thought was that Mike Murphy probably deserved to be there too. You can only invite four but Murphy has the best stats in the entire OHL with a .944 save percentage and as of this minute, with a 1.98 GAA he's one of only three starting goalies in the CHL with a sub-2.00 GAA (Interesting to note that the other two also didn't get an invite).
Murphy would have been on my invite list, probably at the expense of Tyson Sexsmith, but right now Tokarski and Pickard are my two goalies so in the end it doesn;t change the final roster for me.
On the blueline it was Millard that pointed out right away that 2009 eligible Jared Cowen, a consensus top-4 pick, is not on the list. Ryan Ellis is thanks to a blazing hot offensive start to the season, but the top North American defensive defenceman in the draft didn't even garner an invite to camp. Cowen's Spokane teammate Jared Spurgeon got a nod but at 5'8 he's not a defensive force and with just 12 points it's not like Spurgeon is racking up the numbers. I would have taken Cowen (pictured) ahead of Spurgeon but I assume that with Keith Aulie, Tyler Myers, Colten Teubert and Patrik Wiercioch all filling the rough-and-tough job description, Hockey Canada felt they had it covered. Cowen is only 17 so you know his time will come very soon.
I am a fan of the choice to invite Denver Pioneers rearguard Patrick Wiercioch who has 13 points in 13 NCAA games this year. He was drafted by Ottawa in the 2nd round last June but I get the impression that everyone is very much pleasantly surprised at how far he's developed in a very short time. It will be interesting to see how he matches up at the short camp - a darkhorse for now but an interesting one to watch for.
Up front the first name both Dean and I looked for we couldn't find and both of us just snickered a bit that once again, Kyle Beach doesn't rate an invite from Hockey Canada. I guess the ADT Canada-Russia Challenge isn't as big of a deal as most thought because clearly his game winning marker in game 6 didn't help his cause and more than his 22 points in 22 WHL games this year.
The Pipeline Show officially gives Hockey Canada two thumbs down for not inviting Beach to the tryout camp (not that you have to put him on the final roster, but just an invite). Had Dean been writing this blog entry, it may have not have been thumbs that were used to signify our opinion. Suffice to say, Millard's going to rant about this one on Tuesday's show!
Dean, a well known Brandon Wheat Kings supporter, said he found it a bit interesting that both Matt Calvert and Brayden Schenn were invited yet Scott Glennie was not despite having outperformed his two teammates for most of the year. Glennie leads the Wheaties with 32 points, a slight lead over Schenn.
All eyes on Angelo Esposito who is back for yet another kick at the can; is this finally the year he makes the team? It's his last chance but Dean and I differ on our prediction here - Millard votes 'Yay' but I can't see who he beats out so it's a 'Nay' for me.
Patrice Cormier gets a ticket to camp yet might not even be the best player on his team - Oiler prospect Philippe Cornet leads Rimouski in scoring by a fair margin while Cormier is in third.
Obviously being here in Edmonton The Pipeline Show is pleased to see both Jordan Eberle (pictured) and Riley Nash on the list. Back on November 23rd Jim Matheson wrote in the Edmonton Journal:
"Word is Oilers first-round draft Jordan Eberle, even if he has 18 goals with the Regina Pats, will need two strong games in the Western Hockey League vs. Russia Selects series this week to ensure an invite to the national junior camp. Riley Nash, who has played almost no games at Cornell University, will be scouted against U of North Dakota shortly. If he doesn't light it up, he probably won't get an invite."
Eberle did shine against the Russians and Nash also played well against North Dakota. I tend to think both can be solid additions in different roles - Eberle as a scoring winger and Nash as a 3rd line center who could play more of a defensive role than he is asked to at Cornell.
The name that jumped out at me from the list that did make it was Stefan Della Rovere, a winger with the Barrie Colts with stats that don't blow you away but appears to be in the mold of a Jordan Tootoo (Dean's suggestion) as someone the team has invited to play a specific checking role.
Camp gets underway on December 11th and concludes on the 15th. Join us on December 9th and the 16th for our pre and post-camp coverage.
(photos courtesy: Spokane Chiefs, the WHL, Regina Pats, the NHL, TSN, CP)