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Did Hockey Canada Select the right OHLers?


Like we do every sinigle time a Team Canada selection camp roster comes out, yours truly at ITO uses his knowledge to decipher whether it is a good call, or bad call for said player to be on or left off the roster. Considering that the IIHF U20 WJHC is the SuperBowl of Junior hockey, yes I believe this is bigger than the Memorial Cup, lets look at the OHL players who made the selection camp, and the ones from the Summer Evaluation camp that did not… and some other possible misses.


Goaltenders


Mark Visentin (NIA) – I have already received a lot of hate for liking how the kid plays. Through the past 2 seasons I have gotten to know him really well and even though many call me biased. I think the strength to Visentin is his mental game. Mentally, I don’t think I have met a more solid goaltender. Nothing rattles this kid and you can call him a choke artist but I am sure the team was called Canada, not Visentin… But as for him being selected even though his current OHL season is worse than his rookie season… He brings you experience. With only 3 players listed to camp who were on last years team, the repeat factor gives him a huge advantage. Mark will be hungry to prove the doubters wrong which has been the story of his career
$cott Wedgewood (PLY) – Yes, I spelled his name with a dollar sign. As a Yahoo Sports writer said ‘he is money’ (although I have been saying this for over 2 seasons now and that is the first I heard from them) Scott has been the victim of just being born amongst his current goaltender crop. There are a lot of ‘just as good’ goalies since he has been growing up and even though he can steal more games than the average tender, never seemded to get his due. After almost petitioning (must be the money comments I make) for him to be on this team, Wedgewood will get a crack at being Team Canada’s goaltender on the world’s biggest stage. He has the ability, the technique and the mental ability to stand tall, just needed the opportunity.

Defenceman

Cody Ceci (OTT) – That hasn’t already been said about Ceci. The kid is a star plain and simple. He is not a big defenceman by anyone’s standard (6’1”) but he can play like Chara. Already listed at 210lbs Cody has mastered using his size to help his game. Vision is great, angles and skating are great, there are barely any flaws in this kids game. I even remember the playoffs two seasons ago and seeing Ceci and looking up who drafted him, but no one drafted him… he was a rookie.
Dougie Hamilton (NIA) – This is not surprising as he has pretty much been groomed to be the next great OHL offensive defenceman to ever play the game in hockey. Offensively Dougie is having a great year. Defensively not his best. He is still using his body when he needs to but I think to make Team Canada he will have to put his offence to the side and wait instead of create. Not the worst selection to this team but you could replace him with another if you truly wanted.
Scott Harrington (LDN) – I don’t know about him. Maybe I just don’t like shutdown defenceman. Just something about them make me believe they are so interchangeable. Granted as far as OHL nominees to the camp roster, Hockey Canada got this right. If there is a better Canadian shutdown defenceman, I don’t know who it is… you may be saying a name right now, and I will address him later.
Ryan Murphy (KIT) – Remember when Ryan Ellis made the squad the first time to just QB the power play? I absolutely expect that to be Murphy’s role on this team. Arguably the best puck moving defenceman on this team but I think he possess more vision for that PP than a few others. The question is whether he can be 100% healthy for camp and for the tournament. He makes his return this week and you just never know. With that in mind a 100% healthy Ryan Murphy gets a thumbs up from ITO.
Jamie Oleksiak (SAG) – Thumbs Down. I like the guy, I do. Heck he stood around for a long long interview and never look disturbed. He is a great guy to talk to. Problem is he is still learning the OHL game and it is painfully evident. I think the one thing that disturbs me is that during the Summer camp DSP yard saled Oleksiak. Granted it was Smith-Pelly (Runaway Freight Train on Skates) but at 6’7” 245lbs… You shouldn’t be sprawled all along the ice.

Forwards

Freddie Hamilton (NIA) – Everytime I have tried to talk to Freddie there seems to be this hate between us. I know he explained it one time, but I don’t buy that reasoning. But, I do not feel that the personal feelings should have me declare that he will not make the team. But I do agree with him getting an invite to tryout.  If Don Hay puts him with Strome for a line then he has a shot. It isn’t that Strome has been the one doing the work as Freddie has progressed leaps and bounds since being selected by San Jose in the NHL Entry Draft. I still have a feeling that he may not make it. I say you have to give him a shot in camp, but he will have to out work a lot of talent.

Boone Jenner (OSH) – Maybe it is because the Generals in total have been bad, not awful, but under achieving. For that reason I don’t think Jenner should have made the selection camp roster. I like what he can do, but others who have been more consistent this season can do the same.

Tanner Pearson (BAR) – Where did this kid come from? Many have said that, and look at what he did last year as a rookie on a really bad Barrie team. Now look at what he did on his Jr B team in Waterloo… see the pattern here. He didn’t fall out of the sky. He is leading the OHL in points and looks like a monster with the puck, I see him in a 3rd line role if he makes it. He is ok with the camp invite because he is leading the league in scoring. Otherwise I pass on him.

Mark Scheifele (BAR) – After his stint with Winnipeg, he has attacked the OHL like a man possessed and Hockey Canada is capitalizing on this. Rightfully so. If he was left off the list there would be more outcry than others who were left off the list. I don’t think I can find anything wrong with this selection.

Ryan Spooner (KGN) – Now if this was last season I would be clawing my eyes out asking why is he on here. Like Scheifele, Spooner has attacked the league possessed. Whatever they told him in Boston before sending him back has worked. Yes there has been games where he has been benched in the third. But he is a more complete player than ever. I do not care what he has done offensively I have never seen him play defence like this before. Will score big points with Coach Hay.

Ryan Strome (NIA) – I like the selection, but I can see him getting cut. He can play with anyone, can see the small holes to deliver the puck. Slick hands and skating, but there is just something (like Freddie) where I can see him not making the team. But as for the Selection camp, absolutely.

Christian Thomas (OSH) – Now I know what I said about Jenner, should apply here. But I do not think you pass up an opportunity at letting a 50 goal scorer not come to camp. They were not cheap 50 goals either, he worked hard for them. Thomas is wearing the C right now and something about that letter seems to have given him motivation to improve on the little things. Coin toss on the selection because of the lack of success the Oshawa Generals should be having under his leadership.

Tyler Toffoli (OTT) – another player I personally have issues with (why do these guys hate me?) but that is not what I am hear to discuss. Last year I said he should have been given an invite as he either lead the OHL in points, or was just the Top Canadian leading the OHL in points, but he should have gotten an invite. After much debate, I did concede to the notion that you need to be more of a complete player. This year Toffoli has done just that and stepped up his physical game large. He won’t make this team to be an energy guy although players of his ilk have done it before, so if he can not make the top 9, I don’t see him sticking around. Give him motivation, and he will definitely show off his best.


I know I said I would get to the ones who did not get selected, but I will save that until tomorrow on whether or not I agree or disagree. Really there are only 2.5 I do not like. And if you include the ‘will not make team’ about 5 in total. There is always debate when it comes to the OHL selections for the camp which is why I love this league.

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