Hockey Canada released the list of invitees to its 2021 World Junior Championship Selection Camp on Thursday morning. Among the 46 players invited, three Avs prospects were selected to join their fellow countrymen in the grueling four-week training camp.
Avs forward prospect Alex Newhook (2019, 16th overall), and defensemen Bowen Byram (2019, 4th overall) and Justin Barron (2020, 25th overall) will join the fold in hopes booking their ticket to the 10-team international tournament hosted at Rogers Place in Edmonton.
The Avalanche are tied with the Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers and Vegas Golden Knights for the most prospects selected to attend. The list of invitees consists of five goaltenders, 15 defensemen and 26 forwards.
“Although this has been a difficult year for our athletes and staff, we are excited to unveil the 46 players who will compete for a spot on Canada’s National Junior Team at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship,” said Scott Salmond, senior vice president of national teams for Hockey Canada.
“We know our athletes are excited for the opportunity to defend gold on home ice this year, and we expect a highly competitive selection camp with a number of difficult decisions to be made when it comes time to select the players who will wear the Maple Leaf in Edmonton in December.”
Byram is one of just six invitees who are returning from the 2020 Canadian National team that won gold at last year’s World Junior tournament at the Czech Republic. The young Avalanche defenseman figures to be a shoo-in for this year’s tourney.
Byram tallied two assists in seven games for last year’s gold medal-winning team.
Newhook also figures to have a solid chance of making Team Canada’s final roster. The 19-year-old sophomore at Boston College is coming off a breakout freshman campaign with the Eagles. Newhook won the Tim Taylor Award as NCAA Division-I hockey’s “most outstanding freshman” after scoring 19 goals and 42 points in 34 games. He finished tied for first in the NCAA in goals among freshman (sixth for all D-I players) and second overall in points (fifth among the entire NCAA).
Barron could be viewed as a bit of a wild card. The Avs most recent first-round draft pick watched as his stock slid in the draft after missing a lot of time with a blood clot in his arm. The Halifax Mooseheads captain returned to the ice just days ago after a surgery in late September to remove the clot. His return marks an 11-month hiatus since he’s seen game action, missing time since December of last year with injury in addition to the season’s cancellation due to COVID-19.
Barron will have to compete with the likes of 2020 returnees like Byram and Jamie Drysdale, and top-end NHL defense prospects like Thomas Harley (2019 1st round, Dallas Stars), and fellow 2020 first-rounders like Kaiden Guhle (16th overall, Montreal Canadiens) and Braden Schneider (19th overall, New York Rangers).
The three invites to the selection camp are yet another testament of Avs general manager Joe Sakic’s savvy and prowess in picking prospects. It’s a tip of the hat to the talent coming up in Colorado’s system. Of course, while an invite to a selection camp is a good start, the real compliment is in actually making the final national team roster.
Hockey Canada’s Selection Camp begins Nov. 16 and runs until Dec. 13. The camp will include three intrasquad scrimmages and a six-game slate against a team of U SPORTS All Stars, Canada’s best collegiate hockey players.
Much like the NHL, the World Junior tournament will be held in a bubble format with no fans or media allowed to watch the games in person.
The 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship is set to begin at Rogers place in Edmonton on Christmas Day. Team Canada opens up play against Germany on Dec. 26.