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Stamkos, Doughty, Schenn bring youth to Canada at the worlds

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Canada is bringing some new blood to the IIHF World Hockey Championship.

The team's initial roster includes three players that were selected in the top five picks of last year's NHL draft - Steve Stamkos, Drew Doughty and Luke Schenn.

All three are just 19 years old and played together on the world junior team that won gold in the Czech Republic in 2008. They'll be joined this time in Switzerland by 21-year-old James Neal, who had 24 goals in his rookie season with the Dallas Stars.

Canadian GM Doug Armstrong isn't concerned about having so many young players because he's also got veterans like Shane Doan, Dany Heatley and Dwayne Roloson.

Plus, the youngsters can hold their own.

"When you take away the birth certificate, these players have earned the right to be there on their play," said Armstrong. "It's going to be a well-blended group of veteran players and younger guys.

"The job we have now is to get to Switzerland and bring it all together quickly."

The most excited guys in the dressing room might be the teenagers.

Tampa Bay selected Stamkos at the top of last year's draft class while Doughty went to Los Angeles at No. 2 and Schenn ended up with the Toronto Maple Leafs at No. 5.

They've all grown up quickly.

Now with their rookie seasons in the NHL behind them, they'll try to help Canada reclaim the world championship gold it last won in 2007. Coach Lindy Ruff is looking forward to working with the young guns.

"I think there's always a couple players that are seeds for the Canadian program," he said. "Tremendous young players. Not having been involved at the NHL level with these players, we'll give a little different perspective (to them).

"I'm looking forward to it. It'll be a real good experience."

The three Canadian teams that missed the NHL playoffs are well-represented. Heatley, Jason Spezza, Mike Fisher and Chris Phillips have all come from Ottawa; Maple Leafs teammates Schenn and Ian White will suit up; and Shawn Horcoff of the Edmonton Oilers will join Roloson on the squad.

The forward unit features plenty of world championship experience. Martin St. Louis, Derek Roy, Heatley, Doan and Spezza were all part of the team that won silver last spring in Quebec City. Colby Armstrong and Matthew Lombardi have also appeared in the event.

On defence, Nashville Predators teammates Shea Weber and Dan Hamhuis are back. Josh Harding is the team's other goalie.

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