This is not 100% fantasy relevant, maybe not even 50%, but thought I'd jot down some observations based on the Team Canada invites to their WJC Selection Camp starting in a week. The fantasy factor in all of this is that the stock of a prospect, based on actual value, may be rising or falling and you can assume that Hockey Canada has recognized that and decided to act accordingly. What I mean by that is if a player has actually improved then Hockey Canada notices and decides to give him an invite or vice versa. But likely the bigger factor at play here is the perceived value of a player can rise or fall depending on whether they can earn a spot on the WJC team and make an appearance in the spotlight. So definitely worth taking note of guys whose value has changed after yesterday's invites.
Here are the players that I will call "Surprises" as they weren't part of the roster in August for the Canada-Russia Challenge, so they've come a long way to grab a spot:
Jordan Binnington, G (STL) - Leads OHL goalies in every stat that matters with 16 wins, 2.15 gaa & .935 sv% and has a legit shot at the #2 spot for Canada after coming from way off radar. He is a Blues 3rd round pick who has definitely elevated his stock and with Jake Allen struggling in Peoria this season, Binns could have an open lane to a spot in St.Louis in a few years.
Frank Corrado, D (VAN) - A solid two-way dman who I haven't had a chance to see too much as he plays for Sudbury but he impressed me in the Super Series and claimed an invite. But this is likely as far as he goes.
Ryan Sproul, D (DET) - Leads OHL dmen in pts/gm (5+12=17 in 13 games) and his 23 goals last season were tops amongst blueliners. I've really liked what I've seen from this Wings 2nd rounder and think he could really surprise at camp and make this squad due to his size, PP QB ability and right-handed shot.
JC Lipon, RW (Undrafted) - The WHL leading scorer with 22+33=55 in 31 games is certain to get drafted in 2013 as he is scoring at will with Kamloops this year. I love the fact that he plays with an edge, recording 111 PIMs in each of the past two seasons. If your league allows you to add prospects in-season then here is one you might want to move on.
Brett Ritchie, RW (DAL) - The big power forward from Niagara caught my eye at the U-18s in 2011 but he hadn't really elevated his game since. That was until November. Last month, playing with Ryan Strome, he completely went off for 19+10=29 in 13 games. His familiarity with Strome may be the main reason he makes the team but who cares how he does it, let's just hope he takes advantage.
Here are the "Snubs", the guys that I thought would at least get an invite to the camp:
Cody Ceci, D (OTT) - The Sens 1st rounder this past Summer was part of the Canada-Russia Challenge roster in August and sits 2nd amongst OHL blueliners in points with 7+23=30 in 30 games but it wasn't enough. His chances were hurt by a deep pool of 1994-born dmen and the fact that he is seen as one-dimensional & not mobile enough to play on the big ice. Hockey Canada said that he "struggled" against the Russian during the Summer, I don't recall thinking that, maybe I'll have to go back and check the tape to see if that is the case. Regardless of the reason, this is still a fantastic fantasy prospect (#5 in our 2012 fantasy draft rankings) whose perceived value will take a hit due to this snub, so now is a perfect chance to buy low while the herd is down on him.
Brendan Leipsic, C (NSH) - I was surprised that Leipsic was a part of the roster for the Summer series and I didn't think he really stood out... apparently Hockey Canada felt the same way as they didn't even invite him to play in the Super Series in November although maybe that had something to do with an injury that kept him out for a few weeks in October. Since returning on October 28th he has scored in each of his last 15 games, putting up silly numbers with 16+25=41 during the streak. Seems worthy of another look-see but to not even get an invite to camp he must of pissed off the wrong people in August.
Matt Puempel, LW (OTT) - He has 21 goals (T-3rd in OHL) in 26 games for Spott's Kitchener side and you'd think he'd get an invite just to provide some top-6 insurance in case the lockout ends and some of the big guns head to NHL training camps. He messed up his shoulder last week and while the full details aren't known maybe Spott knew that he wouldn't be at 100% for the camp starting next week. It's a shame, I like this kid.
Slater Koekkoek, D (TB) - #10 overall pick by Tampa in the Summer and top 10 in Dmen scoring in the OHL this season (4+18=22 in 29 games) but the bumper crop of 1994-born Dmen and the fact that he is a minus-23 on the season killed his chances.
Ryan Pulock, D (2013) - Right-handed shooting dman with a cannon from the point, he sits 3rd in the WHL in scoring by a Dman with 9+16=25 in 24 games but a recent head injury has kept him out for a few weeks and maybe that spooked Hockey Canada. No matter, this kid is going to be a good one and is likely under-the-radar due to his late-'94 birthday and the fact that he hasn't been through the draft yet. He'll be high on our 2013 fantasy draft rankings.