When Hockey Canada announced the roster for their World Junior Selection Camp last week, many believed that Cale Makar was the Colorado Avalanche prospect most likely to make Team Canada. I pointed out that with the addition of Victor Mete to the camp, that might not be the case - that Conor Timmins might be the one to make the team.
This morning, we got the first sign that this might, in fact, be the case.
The camp is only one day old, but Team Canada will get right to game action as they are scheduled to take on the U Sports All-Star team this evening in St. Catherine’s, Ontario. The scratches for the game were announced and Timmons was among them.
Team Canada’s scratches for tonight vs. U Sports @ 7pm:— Sunaya Sapurji (@sunayas) December 13, 2017
D: Mete, Clague, Timmins, Fabbro
F: Steel, Kyrou, Dube, Thomas, Formenton. #WJC2018
So why is this a sign that Conor Timmins is going to make the team?
The other seven players that aren’t playing tonight are virtual locks for Team Canada - especially the other three defensemen.
Victor Mete, Kale Clague, and Dante Fabbro are the best three defensemen at the camp. They are expected to be leaders for Team Canada and play more than anyone else on the team. The fact that Conor Timmins is the fourth in this group is a sign that the coaches see him fitting into that group.
These early games against university teams are all about the coaching staff getting a look at players they have questions about. For them to put Timmins in the press box shows they are confident in what he is and where he fits in their lineup.
Victor Mete - Dante Fabbro
Kale Clague - Conor Timmins
That is one heck of a top-4, both in terms of talent and versatility. Of course, a lot can change between now and December 19th (when the roster will be finalized), but for right now, it looks like the Avalanche will have at least one prospect on Team Canada.
A week ago, it looked like Makar would have an inside track to fill a puck-moving/powerplay spot in Canada’s lineup. Now a lot of those minutes will be filled by Mete - making Makar a little redundant.
The Canadian coaching staff might feel better bringing a guy like Cal Foote - who plays a different style of game - to fill the third RD spot.
Makar is likely to play a lot tonight - presumably next to his UMass teammate Mario Ferraro - so he will be given every opportunity to impress the coaching staff.
Right now, it’s really hard to tell who has the inside track on the final roster spots. Tonight should be interesting as it will give us a look at where the coaches see Makar and how he fits in with the rest of Canada’s lineup.