Over Easter long weekend, Hockey Canada announced the roster for Team Canada at the upcoming World Under 18's in Belarus. The roster is made up of the top 1992 and younger players from around the country, regardless of the league they play in. However, all of these players must already have been eliminated from the playoffs in their CHL or other league (USHL, Junior A, etc). Usually the team consists of predominantly NHL draft age players (or birth years), so in this case 1992's. However, Hockey Canada almost always brings along a few younger players for the experience.
Due to the fact that Canada does not often bring their best players (because most are tied up in the playoffs like Tyler Seguin), we have not fared incredibly well in the event over the years. Since the tournament came to fruition in 1999, we have only won twice (2003 and 2008). We've only medalled three times in total (with a silver in 2005). That puts us in fifth in total medals behind Russia, The United States, Finland and Sweden. This year is probably another uphill battle.
Even if we tend to be the underdogs in this tournament, the one purpose the Under 18's do serve is to evaluate talent for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft (or the entry draft that's occurring in any year of the tournament). This year, 20 of the team's 22 players are eligible for this years NHL draft. The tournament allows scouts one last look at certain players before making a judgment call on them. It also allows them to compare certain players as they are pitted against one another. Being named to the Canadian roster for this tournament is often a good sign of NHL draft potential. The last two years, every draft eligible player sent by Canada to the tournament was drafted.
It's really a pity that the don't receive more broadcasting than they do though, which will definitely be the case this year as the tournament is held in Belarus. Even still, look for TSN to air a few of the games, the medal round at the very least.
Here are the OHL players you'll see wearing the Maple Leaf:
Geoffrey Schemitsch - Owen Sound
Erik Gudbranson - Kingston
Nathan Chiarlitti - Sarnia
Stephen Silas - Belleville
Ryan O'Connor - Saginaw
Brock Beukeboom - Sault Ste. Marie
Steven Shipley - Owen Sound
Michael Sgarbossa - Saginaw
Christian Thomas - Oshawa
John McFarland - Sudbury
Ryan Spooner - Peterborough
Freddie Hamilton - Niagara
Greg McKegg - Erie
The full roster can be found at Hockey Canada.
Canada has an exhibition game on the 10th against Finland and then kicks off the tournament on the 13th of April against Switzerland.