TORONTO - With selection camp over and main camp about to begin, Canada's world junior roster is starting to take shape.
Following two exhibition games over the weekend against Toronto university all-stars, it was clear that Canada had a handful of no-doubt players for the tournament that opens on Boxing Day.
Injured centre Connor McDavid is a lock as he continues to progress from a broken bone in his right hand, and he's joined by forwards Sam Reinhart, Anthony Duclair, Max Domi and Nic Petan. Defencemen Darnell Nurse, Josh Morrissey and Madison Bowey can also feel safe in their spots.
In goal, Canada only brought Zach Fucale and Eric Comrie to camp, and unless something unforeseen happens, Fucale figures to be the starter.
But with 30 players brought to the four-day selection camp in Toronto, everyone knew there would be some trimming even before the international exhibition games get underway Friday against Russia.
That process was set to begin later Sunday.
A handful of players put themselves in good standing moving forward by producing in games against the Toronto CIS Selects team at Mattamy Athletic Centre in the old Maple Leaf Gardens. Included in that group are forwards Brayden Point, Jake Virtanen, Robby Fabbri and Frederik Gauthier.
Point, a Tampa Bay Lightning prospect playing with the WHL's Moose Jaw Warriors, was a playmaker and a scorer whom coach Benoit Groulx referred to as "relentless." Virtanen, a first-round pick of the Vancouver Canucks who plays for the Calgary Hitmen, said he wanted to be relentless and also showed a knack for producing points with six (two goals, four assists).
Fabbri, a St. Louis Blues prospect playing with the OHL's Guelph Storm, scored two goals in Saturday night's exhibition. Gauthier, the Toronto Maple Leafs' first-round pick in 2013 who's with the QMJHL's Rimouski Oceanic, looked more comfortable in the offensive zone than he has in the past.
Injuries could affect Canada's short-term future as forward Michael Dal Colle missed Sunday's exhibition game and defenceman Joe Hicketts left as a precaution after being hit from behind into the boards.
Canada's pre-tournament camp moves to the Meridian Centre in St. Catharines, Ont., Monday. The team will practise there until returning to Toronto on Friday to prepare for and face Russia.
Sweden is the opponent Dec. 21 at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, and Canada will face Switzerland Dec. 23 in Montreal in its final exhibition game.
McDavid said Thursday he would like to suit up in exhibition action at some point. He has not yet been cleared for contact.
Canada's first game in the world junior tournament is Dec. 26 against Slovakia in Montreal. All of its preliminary games will be at Bell Centre.
The knockout round takes place at Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
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