World Junior Hockey: Canada Watchlist

Bruce Bennett

Here is who we're keen to see at this year's tourney

Here are the Canadian players we'll be keeping an eye on at the 2013 WJHC starting December 26th. This is not a ranking of their top players or prospects, just the guys that we're interested in scouting and assessing their future fantasy hockey potential.

Top 5

#23 Nate MacKinnon, C (2013 Eligible) - His role is undefined at this point and it's possible that he only sees spot duty but he's the Canadian I'll have my eye on the most. This kid can do it all as his skating and hands are fantastic but I want to see if he has that touch of class and the sense for the dramatic to deliver when it matters most. Maybe I'm expecting a little too much and maybe he won't even be given the opportunity but recall that Crosby (6+3=9), Tavares (8+7=15) & Stamkos (1+5=6) all made a significant impact at the WJCs in the same season that they went #1 overall.

#29 Jonathan Drouin, LW (2013 Eligible) - He's everyone's golden boy right now as he's scoring 2.00 points/gm in the Q, is flying up draft rankings and kinda came out of nowhere to make this team. I haven't seen enough of him to be convinced yet but I'm open to the possibility that he could be the next Claude Giroux... so show me, kid!

#14 Ryan Murphy, D (CAR-2011-1st-#12) - Of course I'll be watching Murphy, well cause he's my boy... ever since I pegged him as the #1 fantasy prospect in the 2011 draft class. He led Canada and all dmen at the 2011 U-18s in scoring with 4+9=13 in seven games. He is a treat to watch with the total package of speed and skills but a number of people get scared off by free-wheeling style. As a fantasy GM there is nothing that I like more and hope he is given a chance to prove what an asset he can be in Ufa.

#19 Mark Scheifele, C (WPG-2011-1st-#7) - He's on my list as I had doubts about this guy and thought the Jets reached when they took him very early in the '07 draft but the more I see of him, the more I like. I'm looking forward to seeing him play with NHL calibre players to determine if he belongs at that same level. One thing that stands out to me is that in each of the last two season, he has taken an unheralded linemate and turned him into a Canadian WJC player (Pearson & Camara).

#20 Brett Ritchie, RW (DAL-2011-2nd-#44) - Despite missing the last two weeks he still sits tied for the OHL lead in goals thanks to a loco run with 23 goals in his last 16 games. I want to watch him against some top competition at the WJCs to get a sense if he is the player who can be a top goal scoring power forward at the next level or is he just the guy who could only manage 26 goals in 69 (regular & playoff) games last season in the OHL.

Others to Watch:

#16 Xavier Ouellet, D (DET-2011-2nd-#48) - He looks like another savvy pick by the Red Wings as he has become the top dman in the Q but I'm looking to find out if his offensive game can translate to the pros.

#4 Morgan Rielly, D (TOR-2012-1st-#5) - Prior to Ryan Murray's injury, Rielly was pencilled in to play a depth role but is now expected to log major minutes on the top pairing. This guy has some serious skills (skating & vision) but I wasn't totally sold on him heading into the draft so looking forward to seeing how he stacks up against his peers in this tournament.

#17 JC Lipon, RW (Undrafted 2011 & 2012) - Interested to see how he handles the big stage as he was never a highly regarded prospect but his hot start in Kamloops (he's 3rd in WHL scoring with 22+35=57 in 34 games) raises expectations. He is not big but plays with an edge, having racked up 111 PIMs in each of his previous two seasons.

#15 Anthony Camara, LW (BOS-2011-3rd-#81) - He is another 100+ PIMs guy from the OHL who isn't likely to see more than an energy line role in Ufa but should become a fan favourite due to his reckless style.

#24 Mark McNeill, C (CHI-2011-1st-18th) - I liked how he looked for Canada at the U-18s two years ago and his combination of size and skills impresses me every time I've seen him since. He is on pace for a similar season to his last two production-wise but is captaining Prince Albert to a division lead in the standings. We'll see if he can do what Evander Kane did in 2009 and go from injury replacement to breakout star during the WJC.

Read the Team Canada preview by SBNation's Bruce Peter here.

Anyone I missed?... let me know in the comments.

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