Boone Jenner's selection to Canada's national junior team selection camp may not have been a surprise, but regardless, it presents an enormous opportunity for one of the Blue Jackets' top prospects.
The camp will take place starting next Monday in Calgary, Alberta, giving Hockey Canada's coaching and management staffs a chance to evaluate 37 of the top Canadian junior players in the country.
It's a decorated and star-studded list of invitees, headlined by names like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nathan MacKinnon, Griffin Reinhart and Malcolm Subban -- players who were first-round picks of their respective NHL clubs, and MacKinnon, the top-rated forward in this year's NHL draft class.
Jenner is among a group of six players (Jonathan Huberdeau, Dougie Hamilton, Ryan Strome, Mark Scheifele, Scott Harrington) who will be returning to the World Junior selection camp for another shot at a gold medal.
"The expectation for our country never changes -- it's a gold medal, and we understand that," Team Canada head coach Steve Spott told TSN today. "It's not only the wealth of talent; it's having the players that have gone through it once already. That makes a huge difference.
"For me, it's not just the NHL experience (some of the players have), but it's also the World Junior experience that they already have. It's such a pressure-filled situation that having gone through once is not only going to make them better, but our team better."
Canada's blue line figures to be its strength, with recent first-round pick (2012) Cody Ceci being left off the roster -- even without Blue Jackets prospect Ryan Murray available to play due to season-ending shoulder surgery.
Matt Dumba, Reihart, Morgan Rielly, Ryan Murphy and Derrick Pouliot all figure to be anchors for Canada on defense, but as Spott pointed out this afternoon, the absence of Murray will be significant.
"First and foremost, the loss of Ryan Murray creates a challenge for us," Spott said. "That's probably 20-25 minutes of ice time that now becomes available. But if there's one area in this country we have a lot of depth on, it's the blue line."
DANSKIN' OFF TO RUSSIA?
When the Blue Jackets selected Oscar Dansk with the first pick in the second round this summer, they did so knowing that he's a talented goalie who has played on a big stage. The next step was coming to North America full-time and solidifying himself as the No. 1 goaltender for the Erie Otters (OHL), and so far, mission accomplished.
Dansk was named one of 25 players to Sweden's junior team selection camp, which begins Dec. 15 in Norrtalje, Sweden. The goal is for Team Sweden to be down to 23 players by Christmas Day, just 24 hours before the tournament is slated to begin.
It's been an up-and-down first year in the OHL for the 18-year-old, but on many nights, he has been absolutely stellar. He's facing a lot of shots and being called upon often with the Otters' defense thinned due to injuries, and it's not uncommon to see Dansk turn in a 45-save performance in a losing effort.
Dansk holds a 7-14-1 record, 3.64 goals-against average and .905 save percentage in 25 games with the Otters.