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World Juniors Filled With Senators Flavour?

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators

If it's Christmas time, it must also be world juniors time. Such is the lure of a holiday tradition that — thanks in great part to broadcast partner TSN — has come to capture the imagination of Canadians from coast to coast over the years. The monster ratings this tournament generates are testament to the power of it all. So, too, is the fact TSN will air a Team Canada selection camp preview show later this week. Nope, not a world juniors preview, but rather an early look at who Canada might pick to play in the event. And yes, lots of folks will eat that up.

Forward Shane Prince is one of several Senators prospects who might get a chance to shine at the 2012 world juniors (Ottawa Senators Hockey Club).
While the world juniors need little in the way of additional lure in these parts, those who follow the Senators figure to have plenty of extra reason to watch. No less than four countries have Ottawa prospects on their preliminary rosters, meaning the Sens Army faithful will no doubt want to keeps tabs on more than just the fortunes of the host country when the 2012 world juniors open Dec. 26 in Calgary and Edmonton.

Here's a quick primer on the countries and the Senators prospects they might well include on their final roster:

CANADA: Still hard to believe the Sens snared forward Mark Stone with a sixth-round pick (178th overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. The big right-winger from Winnipeg made a huge impression during Hockey Canada's summer evaluation camp and has done nothing to diminish his standing with his play so far this season for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League. Stone is the top scorer in all of Canadian junior hockey (25-36-61), scoring at almost a two point per game clip. He and Jonathan Huberdeau of the Saint John Sea Dogs made sweet music together in the summer camp, and both are on the invite roster for Canada's final selection camp Dec. 10-14 in Calgary.

UNITED STATES: Ottawa 67's fans know all about the exploits of left-winger Shane Prince, a native of Spencerport, N.Y., and a second-round pick (61st overall) by the Senators in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Prince, who was sidelined with a shoulder injury at the season's outset, has recovered well enough to rack up 36 points (14-22) for the 67's in 23 games, including a five-point game in Friday's 7-6 win over the Peterborugh Petes. Prince was a standout in Team USA's summer camp in Lake Placid, N.Y., and led all Senators prospects in scoring during the rookie tournament in September in Oshawa, Ont. Team USA's camp begins Dec. 17 in Camrose, Alta., with the final roster being chosen five days later.

SWEDEN: Centre Mika Zibanejad impressed Senators management so much in training camp, they kept him around for nine regular-season games in Ottawa before eventually deciding to return him to Djurgarden of the Swedish Elite League. Ottawa's top pick (sixth overall) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft was named today to Sweden's 23-man roster for the WJC, a group that also included Sens defence prospect Fredrik Claesson, also a 2011 draftee (fifth round, 126th overall) and a teammate of Zibanejad's with Djurgarden.

CZECH REPUBLIC: Left-winger Jakub Culek, a third-rounder (76th overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, is on his country's preliminary roster for the 2012 world juniors. Culek, who's record 19 points (6-13) for the Rimouski Oceanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League so far this season, represented the Czechs a year ago at the WJC in Buffalo, recording a goal and an assist.

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