Seven players ranked in the top 30 in NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of North American skaters for the 2013 NHL Draft were picked for Canada's team that will play in the 2013 IIHF World Under-18 Championship.
Forwards Frederik Gauthier, Jason Dickinson and Morgan Klimchuk, along with defensemen Shea Theodore, Joshua Morrissey, Chris Bigras and Madison Bowey were among the 23 players picked for the tournament, which will be held April 18-28 in Sochi, Russia.
Canada is in Group B, along with Germany, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland. Canada plays its first game April 18 against Slovakia.
CANADA U-18 CHAMPIONSHIP ROSTER
DEFENSEMEN: Chris Bigras*, Owen Sound (OHL); Madison Bowey*, Kelowna (WHL); Dillon Heatherington*, Swift Current (WHL); Roland McKeown, Kingston (OHL); Samuel Morin*, Rimouski (QMJHL); Joshua Morrissey*, Prince Albert (WHL); Shea Theodore*, Seattle (WHL)
FORWARDS: Nick Baptiste*, Sudbury (OHL); Sam Bennett, Kingston (OHL); Laurent Dauphin*, Chicoutimi (QMJHL); Jason Dickinson*, Guelph (OHL); Hunter Garlent*, Guelph (OHL); Frederik Gauthier*, Rimouski (QMJHL); Morgan Klimchuk*, Regina (WHL); Yan-Pavel Laplante*, PEI (QMJHL); Connor McDavid, Erie (OHL); Zach Nastasiuk*, Owen Sound (OHL); Sam Reinhart, Kootenay (WHL); Nick Ritchie, Peterborough (OHL); Carter Verhaege*, Niagara (OHL).
*- eligible for 2013 NHL Draft
Gauthier, a center with the Rimouski Oceanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, is No. 7 on Central Scouting's rankings. The 6-foot-5, 210-pounder had 60 points in 62 games and a plus-22 rating. He is highly regarded for his ability to produce offense as well as excel in the defensive zone.
"He's unbelievable for a young guy like that," Central Scouting's Chris Bordeleau told NHL.com. "He can play defense. He's a big kid like that, the first player back, gets the puck, turns the play around and goes the other way. Hockey sense, he can shoot the puck, read the ice. He's a natural talent, also."
Dickinson, a 6-foot-1.25, 179-pound center, had 47 points and a plus-19 rating in 66 games for the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League this season. He's No. 16 on Central Scouting's list.
Klimchuk, No. 24 on Central Scouting's rankings, had 36 goals and 76 points in 72 games for the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League.
Morrissey and Theodore are highly regarded WHL defensemen. Morrissey, who plays for the Prince Albert Raiders, had 15 goals and 47 points in 70 games, and is No. 11 on Central Scouting's list. Theodore, No. 17, had 19 goals and 50 points in 71 games.
Bigras, ranked No. 19 by Central Scouting, had 38 points and a plus-35 rating in 68 games for the Owen Sound Attack of the Ontario Hockey League. Bowey, No. 22, had 12 goals, 30 points and a plus-41 rating in 69 WHL games with the Kelowna Rockets.
Also on the team are two of Central Scouting's top-six ranked goaltenders -- Spencer Martin of the Mississauga Steelheads of the Ontario Hockey League (No. 5) and Rimouski's Philippe Desrosiers (No. 6).
Eighteen of the 23 players picked for the team are eligible for the 2013 NHL Draft. Also picked for the team are the potential top picks for the 2014 and 2015 drafts, as well.
Center Sam Reinhart, the favorite to be the first pick of the 2014 NHL Draft, was named captain of the team. He led the Kootenay Ice of the WHL this season in goals (30), assists (50) and points (85).
Center Connor McDavid of the Erie Otters also was named to the team. The 16-year-old led all first-year OHL players with 41 assists and was second with 66 points. He's a candidate to be the first player picked in the 2015 NHL Draft.
Canada won the bronze medal at last year's tournament, its first medal of any kind since winning the gold in 2008. The United States has won four straight years.