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World Juniors

Byfield, Dach lead Canada World Junior Championship roster

No. 2 pick by Kings, Blackhawks forward among six returning players

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

Quinton Byfield, selected by the Los Angeles Kings with the No. 2 pick of the 2020 NHL Draft, is one of six players returning for Canada at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship.

The forward, who was named to the final 25-player roster announced Friday, had one assist in seven games when Canada won the 2020 World Junior Championship in the Czech Republic. Canada defeated Russia 4-3 in the final. 

"Last year was a good experience and I got to experience a lot of the older guys and how they prepare themselves and what it really takes to win a gold medal," Byfield said during selection camp. "Hopefully me, along with a couple other guys, can bring that veteran presence and carry it on to the other guys and hopefully we can go back to back here."

Joining Byfield from the 2020 team are forwards Dylan Cozens (Buffalo Sabres), Connor McMichael (Washington Capitals) and Dawson Mercer (New Jersey Devils), and defensemen Bowen Byram (Colorado Avalanche) and Jamie Drysdale (Anaheim Ducks).

Cozens was tied for third for Canada at the 2020 WJC with nine points (two goals, seven assists) in seven games. McMichael was second with five goals.

"There were two parts of our evaluations: What they did in the first six days (of camp) with us plus the last three, and what they did in the past," Canada coach Andre Tourigny said. "… We needed to have a balance of both because you can't have an elite player arriving and having a bad week, you need to be careful."

The 2021 WJC is scheduled for Dec. 25-Jan. 5, 2021 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, without fans in attendance and in a secure zone similar to what the NHL used for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Teams are scheduled to arrive in Edmonton on Sunday.

"We're real proud of our group and real proud of where we landed today," said Alan Millar, who is leading Canada's management group. "I think this group of players gives our coaching staff a lot of balance. I think it gives our coaching staff a lot of flexibility in terms of how they want to utilize the roster. I think this is a fast, skilled, very deep group, and our expectations are going into Edmonton and defending our gold medal."

Canada began its selection camp Nov. 17 with 46 players but had to pause activities for two weeks starting Nov. 25 after two players tested positive for coronavirus. That quarantine ended Tuesday, and Canada played intrasquad games Wednesday and Thursday.

"This camp has been unconventional from the outset with the number of players invited and the length of camp, along with the schedule adjustment due to our two-week shutdown, but we feel we have selected a group that will give us the best chance to defend our gold medal on home ice," Millar said. "It is never easy making decisions to trim down a roster, especially when every player handled adversity, faced challenges head on and remained committed to the process through our off-ice workouts and Zoom sessions."

Chicago Blackhawks forward Kirby Dach is part of the final roster that includes 14 forwards, eight defensemen and three goalies.

"Up front, we have a lot of skill, we have a lot of speed as well," Tourigny said. "We want to try and push the pace as much as we can. … from our [defense] corps, I think they can skate really well, move the puck. … all our [defensemen] are really good defensively, so I like the makeup of our [defense] corps a lot."

Canada will play its preliminary-round games in Group A, starting with Germany on Dec. 26, followed by games against Slovakia (Dec. 27), Switzerland (Dec. 29) and Finland (Dec. 31).

"This is definitely one of the very special Team Canada's that's ever been assembled here," defenseman Kaiden Guhle said. "And these awkward times have kind of made it all possible. So it'll be fun to see what the team can do ..."

Nine players were cut from the roster Friday: forwards Mavrik Bourque (Dallas Stars), Graeme Clarke (New Jersey Devils), Gage Goncalves (Tampa Bay Lightning), Seth Jarvis (Carolina Hurricanes), Samuel Poulin (Pittsburgh Penguins) and Jamieson Rees (Carolina Hurricanes), and defensemen Lukas Cormier (Vegas Golden Knights), Ryan O'Rourke (Minnesota Wild) and Donovan Sebrango (Detroit Red Wings).


GOALIES: Dylan Garand, Kamloops, WHL (New York Rangers); Taylor Gauthier, Prince George, WHL (2021 draft eligible); Devon Levi, Northeastern, HE (Florida Panthers)

DEFENSEMEN: Justin Barron, Halifax, QMJHL (Colorado Avalanche); Bowen Byram, Vancouver, WHL (Colorado Avalanche); Jamie Drysdale, Erie, OHL (Anaheim Ducks); Kaiden Guhle, Prince Albert, WHL (Montreal Canadiens); Thomas Harley, Mississauga, OHL (Dallas Stars); Kaedan Korczak, Kelowna, WHL (Vegas Golden Knights); Braden Schneider, Brandon, WHL (New York Rangers); Jordan Spence, Moncton, QMJHL (Los Angeles Kings)

FORWARDS: Quinton Byfield, Sudbury, OHL (Los Angeles Kings); Dylan Cozens, Lethbridge, WHL (Buffalo Sabres); Kirby Dach, Saskatoon, WHL (Chicago Blackhawks); Dylan Holloway, Wisconsin, BIG10 (Edmonton Oilers); Peyton Krebs, Winnipeg, WHL (Vegas Golden Knights); Connor McMichael, London, OHL (Washington Capitals); Dawson Mercer, Chicoutimi, QMJHL (New Jersey Devils); Alex Newhook, Boston College, HE (Colorado Avalanche); Jakob Pelletier, Val-d'Or, QMJHL (Calgary Flames); Cole Perfetti, Saginaw, OHL (Winnipeg Jets); Jack Quinn, Ottawa, OHL (Buffalo Sabres); Ryan Suzuki, Saginaw, OHL (Carolina Hurricanes); Philip Tomasino, Oshawa, OHL (Nashville Predators); Connor Zary, Kamloops, WHL (Calgary Flames)

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