Forwards Jake Virtanen and Brendan Perlini and defenseman Haydn Fleury, all projected to be selected in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft, highlight the roster of players that will represent Canada at the 2014 IIHF Men's Under-18 World Championship beginning Thursday in Finland.
Virtanen of the Calgary Hitmen, Perlini of the Niagara IceDogs and Fleury of the Red Deer Rebels were all ranked among the top 10 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the North American skaters eligible for the 2014 draft. Defenseman Roland McKeown, No. 27 on Central Scouting's final ranking, is the only returning player from last year's gold medal-winning performance. Canada is the defending U-18 World Championship gold medal winner.
The Canadian roster includes three goalies, seven defensemen and 13 forwards. There are 12 players representing the Western Hockey League, six from the Ontario Hockey League and five from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The roster includes 18 players eligible for the 2014 draft and five more eligible for the 2015 draft.
Virtanen is No. 6 on the final list, followed by No. 8 Perlini and No. 9 Fleury. Canada, a three-time gold medalist (2003, 2008, 2013), open tournament play on Thursday against Sweden. The Canadians, who will be coached by Kevin Dineen, will also play Germany, Slovakia and Russia in preliminary-round action.
CANADA U-18 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP ROSTER
Goalies: Julio Billia, Chicoutimi, QMJHL (2014 draft eligible); Brent Moran, Niagara, OHL (2014); Mason McDonald, Charlottetown, QMJHL (2014).
Defensemen: Travis Sanheim, Calgary, WHL (2014); Joe Hicketts, Victoria, WHL (2014); Haydn Fleury, Red Deer, WHL (2014); Ryan Pilon, Brandon, WHL (2014); Alexandre Carrier, Gatineau, QMJHL (2015); Roland McKeown, Kingston, OHL (2014); Ben Thomas, Calgary, WHL (2014).
Forwards: Jayce Hawryluk, Brandon, WHL (2014); Conner Bleackley, Red Deer, WHL (2014); Brendan Perlini, Niagara, OHL (2014); John Quenneville, Brandon, WHL (2014); Mathew Barzal, Seattle, WHL (2015); Travis Konecny, Ottawa, OHL (2015); Brayden Point, Moose Jaw, WHL (2014); Jake Virtanen, Calgary, WHL (2014); Ryan Gropp, Seattle, WHL (2015); Clark Bishop, Cape Breton, QMJHL (2014); Daniel Audette, Sherbrooke, QMJHL (2014); Jared McCann, Sault Ste. Marie, OHL (2014); Lawson Crouse, Kingston, OHL (2015).