The unenviable task of choosing the top junior-aged players to represent Canada at the 2013 World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia, begins in earnest on Tuesday when the country's National Junior Team selection camp begins in Calgary.
Hockey Canada will have at least 35 players in attendance at the camp, which will run through Thursday at the Markin MacPhail Centre at Canada Olympic Park. All invitees will be arriving in Calgary on Monday.
Nashville Predators prospect and camp invitee Colton Sissons of the Kelowna Rockets in the Western Hockey League won't be attending due to an upper-body injury. Despite the fact defenseman Xavier Ouellet of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Blainville-Boisbriand Armada is suffering from an ankle sprain, Hockey Canada chief scout Kevin Prendergast said the 6-foot-1, 190-pound blueliner should be ready to go on Tuesday.
Florida Panthers prospect Jonathan Huberdeau of the Saint John Sea Dogs, meanwhile, could be facing a suspension for his actions on Sunday in a 4-2 loss to the Halifax Mooseheads. According to reports, Huberdeau, who played a role in Canada's bronze medal-winning effort at the 2012 WJC, dragged a linesman to the ice before engaging in a fight with an opposing player late in the third period. The incident is being investigated by the QMJHL. If Huberdeau is given a league suspension, it should not affect his place on this year's National Junior Team.
Canada's camp will have six returning players from last year's team, including defensemen Dougie Hamilton, drafted No. 9 by the Boston Bruins in 2011, and Scott Harrington (Pittsburgh Penguins), and forwards Mark Scheifele (Winnipeg Jets), Ryan Strome (New York Islanders), Boone Jenner (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Huberdeau.
"We're not basing positions and opportunity on age," Canada coach Steve Spott said. "It's going to be whether or not they can help us win a gold medal."
CANADA WJC SELECTION CAMP ROSTER
-Jordan Binnington, Owen Sound Attack, OHL (STL)
-Laurent Brossoit, Edmonton Oil Kings, WHL (CGY)
-Jake Paterson, Saginaw Spirit, OHL (DET)
-Malcolm Subban, Belleville Bulls, OHL (BOS)
-Frank Corrado, Sudbury Wolves, OHL (VAN)
-Dougie Hamilton, Niagara IceDogs, OHL (BOS)
-Scott Harrington, London Knights, OHL (PIT)
-Ryan Murphy, Kitchener Rangers, OHL (CAR)
-Xavier Ouellet, Blainville-Boisbriand, QMJHL (DET)
-Griffin Reinhardt, Edmonton Oil Kings, WHL (NYI)
-Morgan Rielly, Moose Jaw Warriors, WHL (TOR)
-Ryan Sproule, Sault Ste. Marie, OHL (DET)
-Tyler Wotherspoon, Portland, WHL (CGY)
-Matthew Dumba, Red Deer Rebels, WHL (MIN)
-Adam Pelech, Erie Otters, OHL (NYI)
-Derek Pouliot, Portland Winterhawks, WHL (PIT)
-Phillip Danault, Victoriaville Tigres, QMJHL (CHI)
-Daniel Catenacci, Owen Sound Attack, OHL (BUF)
-Boone Jenner, Oshawa Generals, OHL (CBJ)
-Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, OKC Barons, AHL (EDM)
-Ryan Strome, Niagara IceDogs, OHL (NYI)
-Charles Hudon, Chicoutimi, QMJHL (MTL)
-Jonathan Huberdeau, Saint John, QMJHL (FLA)
-Nathan MacKinnon, Halifax, QMJHL (2013)
-Mark McNeill, Prince Albert Raiders, WHL (CHI)
-Sean Monahan, Ottawa 67's, OHL (2013)
-Ty Rattie, Portland Winterhawks, WHL (STL)
-Brett Ritchie, Niagara IceDogs, OHL (DAL)
-Mark Scheifele, Barrie Colts, OHL (WPG)
-Tom Wilson, Plymouth Whalers, OHL (WSH)
-Anthony Camara, Barrie Colts, OHL (BOS)
-Hunter Shinkaruk, Medicine Hat Tigers, WHL (2013)
-Jonathan Drouin, Halifax, QMJHL (2013)
-Francis Beauvillier, Rimouski Oceanic, QMJHL (FLA)
-J.C. Lipon, Kamloops Blazers, WHL
-Tyler Graovac, Ottawa 67's, OHL (MIN)
Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins informed the team on Saturday that he would attend camp. His participation was in doubt due to left shoulder discomfort while playing for Oklahoma City in the American Hockey League.
"I think definitely the biggest factor was just making sure that my shoulder was good to go, and once we got that all settled I think it was a fairly easy decision for me," Nugent-Hopkins said on the Oilers' website.
Prendergast knows the impact Nugent-Hopkins will have on the Canadian roster.
"He comes in as the best player at our camp," Prendergast told "The Pipeline Show." "We have high expectations of him and he does of himself."
In December 2010, Nugent-Hopkins, then 17, was cut from Canada's team on the last day of camp. In December 2011, he was already a key member of the Oilers, averaging a point per game, so he was not released by the organization.
The camp roster, including Huberdeau, will have four goalies, 12 defensemen and 20 forwards. There are 18 players from the Ontario Hockey League, 10 from the Western Hockey League, seven from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and one from the American Hockey League (Nugent-Hopkins).
The schedule includes one Red-White intrasquad game on Dec. 11, and two games against teams from Canadian Interuniversity Sport, Dec. 12-13. The CIS teams will be comprised of players from the University of Calgary, University of Alberta and Mount Royal University.
The Canadian National Junior Team, which will be named Dec. 13, will depart for pre-competition camp in Finland on Dec. 15. It is likely to include 13 forwards, seven defenseman, two goalies and one emergency goalie in case of injury.
The four goalies competing for two spots and one emergency backup role are Malcolm Subban (Boston Bruins) of the Belleville Bulls, Jordan Binnington (St. Louis Blues) of the Owen Sound Attack, Jake Paterson of (Detroit Red Wings) of the Saginaw Spirit and Laurent Broissoit (Calgary Flames) of the Edmonton Oil Kings.
The roster will also have five players eligible for the 2013 NHL Draft in Newark, N.J. -- forwards Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin of the Halifax Mooseheads in the QMJHL, Hunter Shinkaruk of the Medicine Hat Tigers in the WHL, Sean Monahan of the Ottawa 67's and J.C. Lipon of the Kamloops Blazers in the WHL.
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MacKinnon, the No. 1-rated skater on NHL Central Scouting's preliminary list of players from the QMJHL, will be the captain for Team Cherry at the Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Jan. 16. Drouin, MacKinnon's linemate in Halifax, will be an alternate captain for Team Cherry. Monahan, the No. 1-rated skater in the OHL, and Shinkaruk, the No. 2-rated skater in the WHL, will serve as alternate captains for Team Orr at the Top Prospects Game. Lipon has been passed over at the NHL Draft the previous two years.
"There's going to be a competition between guys of this draft class," Shinkaruk said. "We want to prove we're the best undrafted players at this camp. I just want to make sure I'm the best player and the competition will certainly push me to make that team."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale