Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Enough talent for Canada's juniors

Team isn't worried without superstars

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TORONTO -- After relying on star players like John Tavares and Taylor Hall for goals in the past, Canada hopes to have a more balanced attack at this year's world junior hockey championship.

The lack of marquee names has been a topic since 40 players arrived for the team selection camp on Saturday, but forward Jaden Schwartz is confident there's enough talent to get the goals they'll need when the tournament opens Dec. 26 in Buffalo, N.Y.

"Every single guy here has got skill and everyone can score," the Colorado College left-winger from Emerald Park, Sask., said Tuesday. "We might not have any huge superstars.

"That's the word going around town, although I'm sure down the road there are going to be superstars from this team in the NHL. But I think it's a team that will score by committee. Four lines of scoring and four lines of grit. Everyone can do it all on this team."

Team management was confident enough that among the first nine cuts were two of the top-10 scorers from the Western Hockey League, Linden Veh and Brenden Gallagher, as well as Ontario Hockey League scoring star Garrett Wilson.

Coach Dave Cameron has said from the start he expects it to be a blue-collar team that will need to work hard in all three zones of the ice and grind out wins.

But the potential to score is there, though it may be less evident than in past years which players will grab the spotlight in Buffalo.

Another nine cuts are to be announced early Wednesday morning before the final 22-man roster meets at the MasterCard Centre for a team picture and to start the team-building process later in the day.

Schwartz, a stocky winger who is a strong skater with clear offensive skill, looks to be a lock to make the final cut.

Centre Brayden Schenn, one of four returning players from last year's silver medallist team, should be a stalwart on attack after playing for the Los Angeles Kings earlier this season, and centre Brandon Pirri, a second-round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks, has spent this season with Rockford in the American Hockey League.

Big centre Ryan Johansen, the fourth overall pick in the NHL draft in June, and right-winger Brett Connolly, drafted sixth, are others who could be offensive motors.

And there is slick-skating winger Louis Leblanc of the Montreal Juniors and Cody Eakin of the Swift Current Broncos who always seem to be around the net.

None of the four goaltenders has leapt up and grabbed the starting job in camp. The favourites going in were Calvin Pickard, who has been perhaps the best in camp, and Mark Visentin, who has struggled. Olivier Roy and J.P. Anderson are also in the running.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 15, 2010 C4

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