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World Juniors

Lafreniere among 31 invited to Canada World Junior selection camp

Forward projected to be No. 1 pick in 2020 NHL Draft

by Aaron Vickers / Independent Correspondent

CALGARY -- Alexis Lafreniere, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, was among 31 players invited to Canada's selection camp to help determine its roster for the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship.

The camp will be held at Sixteen Mile Sports Complex in Oakville, Ontario from Dec. 9-12.

"As a hockey country we have lots of options," Hockey Canada head scout Brad McEwen said. "It's a really difficult process but we're excited with where we're at. It's thorough. It provides options for our roster as we build it next week. We're really looking forward to getting to Oakville and getting started."

The 2020 WJC will be held in Ostrava and Trinic, Czech Republic from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5. Canada, which finished sixth in the 2019 WJC, will participate in Group B with the United States, Russia, Czech Republic and Germany. Group A consists of Finland, which finished first at the 2019 WJC, Switzerland, Sweden, Slovakia and Kazakhstan.

Lafreniere, a left wing for Rimouski of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, is one of three players returning for Canada from the 2019 WJC, along with defensemen Ty Smith (New Jersey Devils) and Jared McIsaac (Detroit Red Wings).

The 18-year-old (6-foot-1, 194 pounds) leads the QMJHL with 59 points (17 goals, 42 assists) in 28 games, and received an A rating from NHL Central Scouting in its preliminary players to watch list.

"When I watch him and his confidence within the game, he commands the puck," McEwen said. "He wants to be the guy. He wants to be there in the big moments. That's exciting. He's a mature young guy. He's used to it. He's grown up playing in the critical situations and we're looking forward to having him help lead our group going into the tournament.

"He's got personality. He's a young guy that's been through it. Last year going through the event in his role, he handled it extremely well. I think that helps."

Lafreniere is one of eight players eligible for the 2020 draft named to the selection camp, along with forwards Quinton Byfield (Sudbury, Ontario Hockey League), Dylan Holloway (University of Wisconsin, Big 10), Dawson Mercer (Drummondville, QMJHL) and Cole Perfetti (Saginaw, OHL); defensemen Jamie Drysdale (Erie, OHL) and Braden Schneider (Brandon, WHL); and goalie Nicolas Daws (Guelph, OHL).

There also will be 12 NHL first-round picks, including eight chosen at the 2019 NHL Draft: forwards Dylan Cozens (No. 7, Buffalo Sabres), Alex Newhook (No. 16, Colorado Avalanche), Peyton Krebs (No. 17, Vegas Golden Knights), Connor McMichael (No. 25, Washington Capitals), Jakob Pelletier (No. 26, Calgary Flames) and Nolan Foote (No. 27, Tampa Bay Lightning), and defensemen Bowen Byram (No. 4, Avalanche) and Thomas Harley (No. 18, Dallas Stars). Smith was chosen by the Devils with the No. 17 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.

"I think a lot of people will be taking notice of the young gentlemen that are coming through," Hockey Canada director of national teams Shawn Bullock said. "There's no question they are extremely skilled and we're excited to see what they can do on the big ice and contribute and see if they can battle for a spot on this team.

"We recognize the depth we have in our country. There are certainly some good players not on the list today, but we felt through the process of the Under-17s, Under-18s, getting to see the guys in summer in Plymouth (World Junior Summer Showcase) and the (Canada) Russia Series, solidified some decisions of narrowing it down. There's no question there are very good players left off this list today."

Finland also announced its 36-player selection camp roster that includes forward Anton Lundell, who is expected to be a top-10 selection at the 2020 draft.

The 18-year-old (6-1, 185) center received an A rating from Central Scouting in its preliminary players to watch list and has 12 points (six goals, six assists) in 20 games with HIFK in Liiga, Finland's top professional league. He had four points (one goal, three assists) in seven games for Finland at the 2019 WJC.

"Lundell is an intelligent playmaker and an outstanding passer with excellent vision and understanding of the game," NHL Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb said. "Well-balanced skater, hard to knock off his skates. Protects the puck extremely well and outstanding finding a teammate in traffic. Excellent competitor, very focused."

The roster also includes two players selected in the first round of the 2019 draft, defensemen Lassi Thomson (Ottawa Senators, No. 19) and Ville Heinola (Winnipeg Jets, No. 20). 

Lundell and Heinola are two of five players from the 2019 WJC that will attend the camp, along with forward Rasmus Kupari (Los Angeles Kings), and defensemen Anttoni Honka (Carolina Hurricanes) and Toni Utunen (Vancouver Canucks).


GOALIES: Nicolas Dawes, Guelph, OHL (2020 draft eligible); Joel Hofer, Portland, WHL (St. Louis Blues); Hunter Jones, Peterborough, OHL (Minnesota Wild); Olivier Rodrigue, Moncton, QMJHJL (Edmonton Oilers)

DEFENSEMEN: Calen Addison, Lethbridge, WHL (Pittsburgh Penguins); Kevin Bahl, Ottawa, OHL (Arizona Coyotes); Jacob Bernard-Docker, North Dakota, NCHC (Ottawa Senators); Bowen Byram, Vancouver, WHL (Colorado Avalanche); Peter Diliberatore, Quinnipiac, ECAC (Vegas Golden Knights); Jamie Drysdale, Erie, OHL (2020 draft eligible); Thomas Harley, Mississauga, OHL (Dallas Stars); Jared McIsaac, Halifax, QMJHL (Detroit Red Wings); Braden Schneider, Brandon, WHL (2020 draft eligible); Ty Smith, Spokane, WHL (New Jersey Devils)

FORWARDS: Quinton Byfield, Sudbury, OHL (2020 draft eligible); Dylan Cozens, Lethbridge, WHL (Buffalo Sabres); Ty Dellandrea, Flint, OHL (Dallas Stars); Aidan Dudas, Owen Sound, OHL (Los Angeles Kings); Nolan Foote, Kelowna, WHL (Tampa Bay Lightning); Liam Foudy, London, OHL (Columbus Blue Jackets); Benoit-Olivier Groulx, Halifax, QMJHL (Anaheim Ducks); Dylan Holloway, Wisconsin, BIG 10 (2020 draft eligible); Peyton Krebs, Winnipeg, WHL (Vegas Golden Knights); Alexis Lafreniere, Rimouski, QMJHL (2020 draft eligible); Raphael Lavoie, Halifax, QMJHL (Edmonton Oilers); Connor McMichael, London, OHL (Washington Capitals); Dawson Mercer, Drummondville, QMJHL (2020 draft eligible); Alex Newhook, Boston College, HE (Colorado Avalanche); Jakob Pelletier, Moncton, QMJHL (Calgary Flames); Cole Perfetti, Saginaw, OHL (2020 draft eligible); Akil Thomas, Niagara, OHL (Los Angeles Kings)


GOALIES: Justus Annunen, Karpat, FIN (Colorado Avalanche); Jasper Patrikainen, Pelicans, FIN (2020 draft eligible); Kari Piiroinen, Windsor, OHL (2020 draft eligible)

DEFENSEMEN: Santeri Hatakka, Ilves, FIN (San Jose Sharks); Ville Heinola, Lukko, FIN (Winnipeg Jets); Anttoni Honka, JYP, FIN (Carolina Hurricanes); Mikko Kokkonen, Jukurit, FIN (Toronto Maple Leafs); Miska Kukkonen, Lukko, FIN (Buffalo Sabres); Topi Niemela, Karpat, FIN (2020 draft eligible); Kim Nousiainen, Kalpa, FIN (Los Angeles Kings); Axel Rindell, Jukurit, FIN (2020 draft eligible); Peetro Seppala, Kookoo, FIN (2020 draft eligible); Lassi Thomson, Ilves, FIN (Ottawa Senators); Toni Utunen, Tappara, FIN (Vancouver Canucks)

FORWARDS: Leevi Aaltonen, Kalpa, FIN (New York Rangers); Eemil Erholtz, Sport, FIN (2020 draft eligible); Aleks Haatanen, Pelicans, FIN (2020 draft eligible); Roni Hirvonen, Assat, FIN (2020 draft eligible); Lenni Killinen, Assat, FIN (Carolina Hurricanes); Otto Kivenmaki, Assat, FIN (Detroit Red Wings); Rasmus Kupari, Ontario, AHL (Los Angeles Kings); Anton Lundell, HIFK, FIN (2020 draft eligible); Matias Maccelli, Ilves, FIN (Arizona Coyotes); Henri Nikkanen, Jukurit Jr., FIN-JR (Winnipeg Jets); Niklas Nordgren, HIFK, FIN (Chicago Blackhawks); Joonas Oden, Kookoo, FIN (2020 draft eligible); Mikko Petman, Lukko, FIN (2020 draft eligible); Ville Petman, Lukko, FIN (2020 draft eligible); Patrik Puistola, Jukurit, FIN (Carolina Hurricanes); Sampo Ranta, Minnesota, BIG 10 (Colorado Avalanche); Aatu Raty, Karpat Jr., FIN-JR (2021 draft eligible); Aku Raty, Karpat Jr, FIN-JR (Arizona Coyotes); Antti Saarela, Ilves, FIN (Chicago Blackhawks); Samuel Salonen, Pelicans, FIN (2020 draft eligible); Patrik Siikanen, JYP, FIN (Edmonton Oilers); Kristian Tanus, Jukurit, FIN (2020 draft eligible)

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