On Monday, Hockey Canada is likely to announce the invitees to the 2011 Under 20 Team Canada Selection Camp, for the World Junior Hockey Championship.
This is obviously a big deal around the country as we gear up for yet another WJC (the best hockey has to offer IMO, right on par with the Stanley Cup Finals). But the camp and the tournament are also important to OHL fans, as some of the best talent around the league is lost for upwards of three weeks.
Taking into account the Summer Development Camp, the Subway Super Series, and the 2010 OHL season (thus far), here's how I think the invitees will break down. Let me reiterate though, that this isn't who I think will make the final roster, but who I think will get an invite.
Ryan Ellis - Windsor Spitfires
Two time member and a potential captain of this year's team. Enough said.
Calvin de Haan - Oshawa Generals
A returning member and someone who should figure as a large contributor from the blueline for Canada. Again, enough said.
Erik Gudbranson - Kingston Frontenacs
While he hasn't taken as large of a step forward offensively as some might have liked, he's still a bluechip NHL first rounder who's playing solid defensive hockey for one of the top teams in the East. I don't think he's a lock to make the team, but he has to be a lock to get a look.
Joey Hishon - Owen Sound Attack
Playing incredibly well in Owen Sound (second best ppg average in the league behind Jason Akeson), the Avalanche first rounder has to be a lock to get a look for a spot in Team Canada's top 6. With the spots at forward being so wide open, you can't ignore Hishon's offensive talents.
Casey Cizikas - Mississauga Majors
WJC Coach Dave Cameron's captain and workhorse in Mississauga, Cizikas is an ideal candidate for a bottom six energy role on the team. His familiarity with Cameron's system and his chameleon like ability on the ice should make him a lock for the camp.
They've Got a Good Shot:
Mark Visentin - Niagara IceDogs
One of the goalies at the summer selection camp, and someone who's actually just starting to heat up now for Niagara. He was also excellent in his appearance at the Subway Super Series, proving why the Phoenix first rounder deserves a spot at the selection camp.
Taylor Doherty - Kingston Frontenacs
While he'll need to refine his offensive game to play in the tournament (we don't need a dangling 6'7 defenseman to turn over pucks like he did in the Subway Super Series), you can't deny how much of an asset his size would be defensively against some of the more skilled European teams and the Americans.
Zack Kassian - Windsor Spitfires
Kassian deserves to be at the camp, but does Coach Cameron like him? There were rumours of discontent after the summer camp ended, and Kassian also had a lukewarm Subway Super Series appearance. But he's been a beast this OHL season and Canada could really use his size on the powerplay.
Tyler Toffoli - Ottawa 67's
Not many forwards in the CHL are hotter right now than Tyler Toffoli. His terrific start to the season in combination with his appearance at the Summer camp, suggests he should have a really good shot at earning a camp invite. Plus, we could really use his scoring ability.
Could We See Them There? Yes...But It's Not As Likely:
Scott Stajcer - Owen Sound Attack
Stajcer has been very good for Owen Sound this year as they've ascended the West standings, but does he belong in the top four goalies in the CHL?
J.P. Anderson - Mississauga Majors
Again, don't count out the familiarity thing. Anderson is Cameron's go to guy in Mississauga and he's played very well this season. But similar to Stajcer, is he among the CHL's finest?
Ryan Murphy - Kitchener Rangers
Murphy is the best offensive defenseman in the OHL right now (and maybe in all of the CHL), but he's still young and has a lot to learn. Let's not forget that Hockey Canada cut him from the Under 18 team this summer (Ivan Hlinka). But let's not also forget that Hockey Canada's head scout has since changed (to Kevin Prendergast) and so has the coach (Dave Cameron).
Brock Beukeboom - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
An invitee to the summer camp and a definite favourite of Hockey Canada, Beukeboom is the big physical defenseman we like to take. But his offensive game has severely stalled this year, which might hinder his chances.
Dougie Hamilton - Niagara IceDogs
Not that often that draft eligible players get an invite, but Hamilton has developed into a strong two way defenseman who could be an asset to Canada internationally (as he was at this year's Ivan Hlinka).
Taylor Beck - Guelph Storm
Isn't having nearly the type of season he had last year, but he remains a quality offensive player who did participate at the summer camp.
Garrett Wilson - Owen Sound Attack
A big power forward who's currently second in the league in goals, Wilson has improved every year he's been in the league. But is it enough to earn him a look for Team Canada?
Ethan Werek - Kingston Frontenacs
Another summer camp participant, Werek has had an excellent season so far for Kingston. He's a smart, two way player who could probably play any role Team Canada needed.
Ryan Martindale - Ottawa 67's
Martindale is playing quite well right now and is among the league's top scorers. But his previous problems with inconsistency (from game to game and shift to shift) might put him on the outside looking in.
Ryan Strome - Niagara IceDogs
Like Hamilton, it's not often that draft eligibles get an invite, but Strome has been so fantastic this season, he might be hard to ignore. On top of that, he was fantastic in the Subway Super Series and might have earned himself a look.
Christian Thomas - Oshawa Generals
Another guy who might have picked the best time to get hot, Thomas had an absolutely monstrous last week (and was named the POTW for his efforts). He's small, but shifty and like Tyler Toffoli, we could sure use his goal scoring ability from the wing.
Greg McKegg - Erie Otters
The Otters' captain and Leafs draft pick has had a pretty good season for an underachieving Otters squad, but does he get caught in a numbers game?
Justin Shugg - Mississauga Majors
Shugg has been excellent for Dave Cameron's Majors this season and has really turned himself into a quality two way player. Like Casey Cizikas, his ability to play any role and chip in offensively could get him a look from his Majors bench boss.
Peter Holland - Guelph Storm
The Guelph Storm ship has been sinking lately, but this Anaheim Ducks first round draft pick might be having his best season in the league yet. But does he fall into a numbers game like Greg McKegg?
Marcus Foligno - Sudbury Wolves
A shift to the wing this year has really boosted Foligno's offensive production, simplifying his on ice duties. He could be an ideal candidate on a checking line as a defensively responsible, physical winger.
Devante Smith-Pelly - Mississauga Majors
Smith Pelly is another one of Cameron's boys in Mississauga. He can mix it up and is a very active player on the forecheck. He is could also be a candidate for a checking line role.
We'll have to wait for Monday to see who actually gets named to the camp that is set to open up in the second week of December.
Until then, I'll actually put my money where my mouth is and give you the list of who I think gets named to the camp (not necessarily who deserves to get named, but who I think will get named) ...
Calvin de Haan
What do YOU think?