There’s no question the QMJHL contingent attending Team Canada’s World Junior Selection Camp have made their presence felt so far. Obviously, that might not be good enough. The QMJHL contingent are in tough.
This year’s selection camp is very deep and Hockey Canada will definitely have some very difficult decisions to make. Hockey Canada’s brass have difficult decisions to make every year and to be brutally honest with you, I still can’t believe what they did to Benoit-Olivier Groulx a year ago.
To take a player overseas and then cut him three or four days after just doesn’t make sense to me. Sure, it’s the World Juniors, sure it’s a business, but come on that’s not right.
At least TSN aren’t waiting for those players in the Hotel lobby at 6am shoving a mic in faces. I never quite understood that. What did they expect players to say? Their dream of playing for and representing their country had just been destroyed.
Tough decisions are part of the process, it comes with the territory, I get that, but how does Hockey Canada select their hockey club?
Is it based on a ghost roster, resume or the stat sheet?
Year after year Team Canada continue to do amazing things on and off the ice and have tremendous coaches behind their benches, but year after year difficult decisions are made.
Does NHL draft status matter? Of course.
Do ghost rosters play a massive role into final selection process? Of course.
Does the stat sheet and a resume matter? Of course.
If that’s the case, what the hell can a bubble player, no pun attended, do to make the team? It’s safe to say it’s all about character and intangibles. It’s all about being versatile and being able to bring something to the table that makes you unique. It’s about being flexible and accepting any role the coaches give you.
Obviously, it’s the best of the best, that’s why they call it the “Program of Excellence.” Hockey Canada is use to making all the difficult decisions, they are searching for excellence.
When the World Junior team struggles or don’t live up to expectations, everyone questions their selection process and personnel decisions.
With that being said which QMJHL players have a chance to crack the line up?
Dawson Mercer is arguably one of the most exciting players at camp and has to be a guaranteed lock for the team’s Top 6. Hendrix Lapierre has had a solid camp, but hasn’t lite the world on fire. He will have to do more to get noticed as the camp moves forward.
Obviously, everyone knows what type of player he is and what he can bring to the table, but the search for complimentary players and instant chemistry is no doubt challenging which can be said for a plethora of players.
I think Lapierre would be a solid addition to hockey club and would provide a very skilled and two-way presence to the team, but some might say he hasn’t been flashy or electrifying enough so far.
Jakob Pelletier should be a shoe in for the team, but yet probably finds himself on the bubble as well.
“Mr. Everything”, as I liked to call him while he played here in Moncton, really does it all and has looked very good so far. André Tourigny is very well versed on all the Q players, so he knows full well what Pelts can bring to the table.
Jakob Pelletier deserves to be on this team probably more than anyone else just because of his character, compete level and versatility, but yet he will have to continue to add even more offence in order to continue to make an impression.
I really enjoy watching Mavrik Bourque play the game.
His combination of grit, speed and skill is exceptional, but it’s his consistency that might be hurting his chances so far at camp. Bourque is a very good 200ft player and potential game breaker, but this is where the ghost roster issue might show its ugly head.
Do Lapierre and Pelletier bring more to the team than Mavrik Bourque? Which player can play all three forward positions? Which player is going to be the best team player if their role constantly changes?
I’m just not sure if Mavrik Bourque has done enough yet to showcase his full potential. You could probably say the same about Sam Poulin. Poulin is an exceptional player and could be a perfect fit on a line with Pelletier and Lapierre, but has the Penguins Prospect done enough or has he fulfilled what Hockey Canada and the coaching staff want from him given his status on the ghost roster?
You see everything revolves around the ghost roster and if the player is living up to their full billing which is extremely hard to do, especially when you can’t form any chemistry with your linemates because they are constantly changing.
The try out process for any team is extremely complex. One can only well imagine how the players must feel in this pressure cooker.
Now just think about a player that hasn’t had the chance to play in the Red vs White scrimmage, that’s where Xavier Simoneau finds himself.
The diminutive elusive scoring forward can definitely bring speed to the forward group which Team Canada certainly pride themselves on, but will his size be a knock against him on the national stage?
What about the backend? Do the QMJHL blueliners have a chance of cracking the team?
Jordan Spence and Justin Barron have had solid camps so far, but they haven’t been overly flashy, which might be a good thing, depending on what Tourigny and his staff are looking for.
Spence and Barron are tremendously complete players that need to be paired with the same D partners for a few days or games at camp in order to fully showcase their game.
Speaking of D partners enter Lukas Cormier. Cormier has been paired with them both.
Sure, Cormier has another shot at landing a spot on Team Canada next year given his age, but this selection camp is a vitally important experience and great for his confidence moving forward.
If you were keeping track of the stat sheet, Cormier was a minus 3 last night, which isn’t fully indicative of his play.
Cormier has played very well which shouldn’t come as a surprise, he can certainly keep up to pace or dictate it at times with his great instincts to jump into the play. His defensive game has been good, but what about the minus 3 last night?
Well that’s where the eye test comes in.
Cormier had his man on two different occasions and was doing his job when the goals were scored. He was also on the ice when the empty net goal was scored, other than I thought he played very well.
The stat sheet can be very misleading at times and should never ever be the final indicator of making a team.
Spence has looked good so has Barron, but right now I would probably say Barron might be slightly ahead of Spence and Cormier in consideration of making the final roster. Nonetheless, Spence continues to look more comfortable and elusive as the camp goes on.
Unfortunately, every player at some point will be at the mercy of the stat sheet, ghost roster and their resumé when it comes to cracking a roster. It probably shouldn’t be that way, but that’s the hard reality when searching for excellence.
The QMJHL contingent continue to be in tough out west, if it was up to me, they would all make it, because they are all exceptional players and people!