Although only 6 players from The Montreal Canadiens prospect pool were selected to attend their respective countries' training camps for the upcoming World Juniors set to take place in Malmo, Sweden, they are sure fire bets to not only make their squads, but all 6 are almost sure to play huge roles.
F Charles Hudon
Drafted 122nd overall by MTL in 2012
Hudon appears to be one of the steals of the 2012 NHL draft. He made Team Canada last year, but missed the whole tournament due to a back injury. Hudon has always been criticized for his skating as he lacks the speed you would like to see in an undersized winger. But, he actually made improvements in his skating over the past season but he still lacks the separation speed and it was noticeable. However, Hudon compensates his slow feet by using his elite hockey sense, slippery hands and an NHL ready wrist shot. For a smaller player, Hudon was exceptional at gaining body position against larger opponents allowing him to protect the puck and create magic with his puck skills. As a bonus, Montreal’s Hudon is a valuable player on the defensive side of the puck as well and that should assure him a good opportunity in the NHL some day, and a top 9 role on Team Canada.
G Zachary Fucale
Drafted 36th overall by MTL in 2013
Fucale may be the best World Junior goalie to lace up for Team Canada since Montreal's very own Carey Price. While a lot of attention has been paid attention to the team in front of him last year, Fucale put together a solid season that showed he was an integral part of the Halifax Mooseheads success. In 55 games, he posted a 45-5-2 record. He also finished with a 0.909 save percentage, 2.35 goals against average and two shutouts. In the playoffs he compiled 16 wins and one loss as he backstopped the Mooseheads to the President Cup. The Mooseheads (also guided by top picks Nathan Mackinnon and Jonathan Drouin) went on to defeat Seth Jone's Portland Winterhawks in the Memorial Cup, where Fucale was exceptional. I have no doubt in my mind that Fucale will be able to lead Team Canada to a gold medal this year and maybe next year, too. He could be the best goalie in the tournament.
F Sebastian Collberg
Drafted 33rd overall by MTL in 2012
Sebastian Collberg is an electric skater and a mesmerizing stick-handler. The 19-year-old boasts a quick and deadly accurate wrist shot, though he has yet to consistently display his offensive skills playing in Sweden’s top league. A little undersized, Collberg will spend at least another season or two either in Sweden or in North American minor leagues, bulking up to prepare for the rigors of playing in the NHL. Collberg was a big part of Sweden's silver medal team last year, as he scored 4 goals and 6 points in 6 games. Also, the super swede could turn out to be a shootout specialist, which could be crucial to Sweden's success on home ice this year.
F Jacob De la Rose
Drafted 34th overall by MTL in 2013
With Jacob De la Rose you know what you are getting – a two-way forward with great versatility. De la Rose is a great skater with who employs good physicality but his offensive ceiling is relatively low. Look for De la Rose to develop into a player a coach relies on for tough defensive minutes and become a real quality third line centre. De la Rose posted a modest six goals and 12 points in 38 games for Leksand last year. Although his offensive capabilities are considered limited, De la Rose is among those up for the captaincy of Team Sweden.
F Martin Reway (pronounced Re-vaie)
Drafted 116th overall by MTL in 2013
Reway is a diminutive yet dazzling offensive force with the QMJHL's Gatineau Olympiques who's play has been soaring in his 2nd season in North America. Don't believe me? Take a look for yourself.
Here is what The Scouting Report has to say about Reway: "Nobody is quite sure what to make of Martin Reway as the undersized Slovak winger certainly is not lacking talent... Can be a dynamic talent with the ability to keep the D honest as a result of his ability to burn them... Questions about his desire and passion are significant concerns heading into the draft and could see him fall into the later rounds."
F Artturi Lehkonen
Drafted 55th overall by MTL in 2013
And finally we have Artturi Lehkonen. Lehkonen is a diminutive but speedy winger with great hockey vision. Lehkonen has superb acceleration speed and very good wrist shot. Despite lacking the size he uses his body well and is not afraid of going into tight situations.He had an impressive year heading into the draft with 30 points in 45 games playing against men in Finland. Size will always be an issue but the talent is certainly there. In last year's WJC, Lehkonen played along side top pick Alexsander Barkov for Finland and saw success, of which he will try to repeat this season.
There you have it folks. I will end this blog with one note on Team USA though; why the heck was the monster we drafted with our first pick, 6'5" Michael Mccarron not even invited to camp?? McCarron is off to a slow start to his OHL career with just 12 points in 30 games. While his size and physical play are not in question, his offensive game remains a work in progress. His physicality could have been an edge for Team USA.