Sunday, November 27, 2011

Camp Considerations for Canada

Hockey Canada makes their official camp invite list known to the public at a Monday morning announcement. The press conference at Rexall Place is scheduled for a 9:30 start and then we'll finally get some answers to questions that have been asked over the last several weeks on our show.

Out of curiosity, I spent a portion of Sunday on Twitter taking a straw poll of our audience. I threw out several names of players who may or may not be in consideration by Hockey Canada for the WJC camp. I wanted to know what fans across the country felt about some guys and I was surprised by some of the responses, less so for others.

The Twitter experiment offered three choices to voters: (1) camp invite (2) roster spot (3) not this year. Pretty self explanatory.

I began with Toronto Maple Leafs prospect defenceman Stuart Percy. The Mississauga rearguard was someone I had on the radar but not necessarily a camp invite guarantee. In conversation with our CHL Insider Sam Cosentino this weekend, I started to second guess myself because the Sportsnet analyst is confident that Percy could play in Canada's top 4 at the tournament.

The votes began pretty much split equally but in the end the majority of fans felt Percy was deserving of an invite but that a place on the final team was not a sure thing at all.

Next up was Prince Albert Raiders forward Mark McNeil (CHI). McNeil has had a less than impressive season thus far but was a standout during the Canada/Russia Subway Super Series. He also scored the overtime winner against the Vancouver Giants on the weekend, the club which happens to be coached by Don Hay who will also be behind the bench for team Canada.

It became clear early on in the voting process that McNeil is a rather polarizing figure - fans either wanted him on the roster with ease or no where near the camp. Interesting to say the least.

It was a similar story with Moose Jaw Warriors defenceman Dylan McIlrath although the majority of voters chose to pass on the big bruising blueliner.

"Marc" insisted that McIlrath's style of play would make him the perfect candidate for the team saying "He will scare the crap out of those Europeans".

Next I looked at the goaltending situation and posed the question: "Assuming Mark Visentin, Tyler Bunz and Louis Domingue get Canada Dec camp invites, who do YOU give the 4th goalie spot to?". By no means is Domingue a sure thing according to those I have spoken with but I personally think his numbers and his summer camp participation make him a viable December target.

The two names that most came up from the TPS audience: Seattle's Calvin Pickard (COL) and Plymouth's Scott Wedgewood (NJ).

On our main show website the poll for the last week has asked folks to tell us which (if any) underaged player is most deserving of an invite. The choices were Nathan Mackinnon in Halifax, Ottawa's Sean Monahan and Hunter Shinkaruk of Medicine Hat. I posed the same question on Twitter and oddly enough, got a different result than our website poll.

While most on the poll declared Monahan the most deserving followed by Shinkaruk, the Twitter count favored MacKinnon and "none" was the second most popular choice.

Lastly, I wanted to know if the lack of a QMJHL representative on the coaching staff was an issue for anyone. "Jérome" suggested that "somewhat..i could see other coaches favoring others players in camp just because they know them better for the depth players."

In just a few hours we'll find out the answers to many of the question above but there were several more that I wanted to throw at the Twitter audience. Again, using the "camp invite", "roster spot" or "not this year" choices, how do you see these potential Canadian players:

- Gregg McKegg (TOR) Erie Otters
- Joe Morrow (PGH) Portland Winterhawks
- Brad Ross (TOR) Portland Winterhawks
- Jerome Gauthier-Leduc (BUF) Rimouski Oceanic
- Cody Ceci (2012) Ottawa 67's
- Jamie Oleksiak (DAL) Saginaw Spirit
- Nathan Beaulieu (MTL) Saint John Sea Dogs
- Michael Bournival (MTL) Shawinigan Cataractes
- Michael Ferland (CGY) Brandon Wheat Kings
- Tanner Pearson (2012) Barrie Colts
- Brett Bulmer (MIN) Kelowna Rockets
- Ty Rimmer (UFA) Tri-City Americans
- Max Reinhart (CGY) Kootenay Ice

There are a lot of quality players who could get the call from Canada and as always, there will be players left out of the loop that some fans will freak out over. I want to know how you feel about the group above. Let me know in the comments section or on Twitter.

(Photos: Aaron Bell / OHL and CHL Images)

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