It didn't come as a surprise this morning to learn that 2 of the early top 10 prospects for Team Canada did not make the roster for the World Junior Championships which begin in Buffalo later this month.
Both are tremendously talented players, but when you can lean on experience for a tournament like this, sometimes experience wins out when you have players of the same skill set.
Nugent-Hopkins will return to the WHL and Murphy will return to the OHL, and both will be better off from the experiences they had in the past few days. I won't hesitate to say that both will also have an added jump to their steps.
We'll have one 2011 draft eligible player to watch though. Sean Couturier was more than solid in all zones for the 3 games and last night showed why he could be the premiere player in the draft.
As expected, netminders JP Anderson and Calvin Pickard will be heading home, leaving Olivier Roy and Mark Visentin as the goaltending tandem for this year's squad. I would suspect that Visentin gets the starters job.
The 2012 eligible defenseman Ryan Murray was also sent home, but not before opening a lot of eyes and telling the hockey world "watch for me in 2012". He truly had a superb camp.
The other players released were Chicago Blackhawks prospect Brandon Pirri, winger Michael Bournival, forward Riley Sheahen and defenceman Mark Pysyk.
Team Canada's roster now looks like this: forwards Brayden Schenn, Carter Ashton, Casey Cizikas, Brett Connolly, Cody Eakin, Marcus Foligno, Curtis Hamilton, Quinton Howden, Ryan Johansen, Zack Kassian, Louis Leblanc, Jaden Schwartz and Sean Couturier.
The defense has some experience with returnees Jared Cowen, Calvin de Haan and Ryan Ellis who will be joined by Dylan Olsen, Simon Despres, Tyson Barrie and Erik Gudbranson.
The only real surprise for me was the inclusion of Gudbranson, who hasn't had the season he is capable of having, and really didn't have a good camp. But Team Canada is carrying 7 defensemen and his size and shut down capabilities couldn't be overlooked.
Team Canada's camp now moves to the Niagara Region and will play a series of exibition games before beginning the tournament on Boxing Day.
Good luck to Team Canada !