Hockey Canada announced the first four cuts for their World Junior team on Sunday, with Michael Dal Colle, Spencer Watson, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Jakob Chychrun getting sent home after two exhibition games against the CIS All-Stars.
Dal Colle, 19 was an early cut from the team a year ago in a very similar situation. Not known for his skating ability, is capable of putting up big numbers pretty much anywhere he plays. At the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, Dal Colle finished with six points in five games as Team Ontario failed to generate much of anything. A few months later, however, at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup, Dal Colle helped Canada to a gold medal with four points in five games. A fifth Overall pick in 2014 by the New York Islanders, the young forward won the Memorial Cup last year with Oshawa and will likely compete for an NHL spot next year. Dal Colle has had the best start to a season this year, currently sitting at 23 points in 27 games for a weak Oshawa squad.
Drafted second last by the Los Angeles Kings back in 2014, Watson has done everything possible to prove himself at the international level, having put up big numbers in both tournaments he’s participated in. First, his seven-point performance at the U17’s during the 2012-2013 season proved he could put up big point totals against the best of his age group. In August of 2013, Watson skated for Canada’s gold medal U18 team at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament, leading the team with ten points in five games. A strong summer camp/super series didn’t seem to help his case, unfortunately, leaving the Kingston Frontenacs star to sit on the sidelines in his final year of tournament eligibility.
Dubois and Chychrun were both longshots heading into the pre-tournament games, with them both currently in their NHL Draft years. Dubois, who scored in the second World Junior tune-up game against the CIS All-Stars, had a strong Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament last year, putting up three points in four games for the eventual gold medal winners. Chychrun, on the other hand, struggled to keep up with the pace at time’s for Canada, despite being an expected top-five pick in the NHL Draft this year.
Canada will head to Finland carrying 14 players for 13 roster spots, which doesn’t currently include Vancouver Canucks prospect Jake Virtanen. Defensively, the team will bring nine defensemen to their exhibition games in Finland, with two cuts to come before the tournament begins on December 26th.
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