With 5 players out of 22, a little more than a quarter of the team, Quebec is well represented this year on the Canadian team at the World Junior Hockey Championship. Yet only one, Maveric Lamoureux, was a first-round pick, and late, at 29th overall.

A late first-round pick of the Arizona Coyotes in 2022, this tall 6-foot-7 defenseman has 27 points in 25 games since the start of the season in Drummondville, after having a good camp with the Coyotes.

Rousseau and St-Hilaire will form the first Quebec pair at the World Junior Championship since Pascal Leclaire and Olivier Michaud… 22 years ago! The first had a brilliant season in Halifax, but was not drafted in his first year of eligibility. The second shines for a second consecutive year in Sherbrooke and was also shunned in the NHL draft.

Jordan Dumais had to wait until the third round of the 2022 draft before being chosen by Columbus despite having a 109-point season. He had 140 in just 64 games last year in Halifax and could surpass that mark this season. The Blue Jackets do not regret their choice!

The Ducks banked on this tall 6-foot-4 defenseman despite limited offensive potential. He also has only 5 points in 20 games in Victoriaville. But Anaheim, like the Canadian team, appreciates the robustness and defensive contribution of the young man.

Canada has already been better off, but still has nine first-round picks, and the NHL’s likely first pick in 2024.

Geekie isn’t the tallest skater, but he has an imposing frame at 6-foot-4 and has a well-above-average hockey IQ. The Coyotes made him the 11th pick in 2022, after drafting Logan Cooley 3rd overall. Geekie is having his best season in junior with 49 points in 26 games with the Wenatchee Wild, but he’s approaching his 20s. A great challenge in his first experience at the World Junior Championship.

The Pittsburgh Penguins don’t have a big backup, but they now have Brayden Yager, the 14th pick in 2023, their highest pick on offense since Jordan Staal in 2002. Yager has 41 points in 28 games in Moose Jaw and he managed to break into the Canadian roster at just 18 years old.

Poitras was the big surprise at Bruins camp and he earned a job in Boston due to the lack of depth at center, but he ran out of steam as the weeks went by and the Bruins chose to loan him to Canada. This second-round pick in 2022 was nevertheless able to play 27 games in the NHL, and amassed 13 points. His experience and great creativity will make him a player capable of transforming the team.

Savoie was drafted 9th overall by the Sabers in 2022. His junior teammate Zach Benson was selected a year later by the same Sabers at 13th overall, but Buffalo nevertheless chose to keep Benson on its roster and send Savoie back to the junior ranks. The Canadian team will be able to benefit from the experience of Savoie, who played one game in the NHL and six in the American League this season.

Mateychuk is forgotten among the Blue Jackets’ string of high draft picks. He’s not six feet tall, but has great offensive skills. The young man has 35 points in 24 games so far in Moose Jaw. We even thought about keeping him in Columbus to start the season.

The Americans and Swedes have no shortage of stars, but the Czech Republic has just obtained a major one.

He has just been named captain of the Swedish team, even if health problems delayed his start to the season in Farjestad, in the Swedish first division (SHL). Complete, tenacious winger, drafted by the Wild thanks to the first round pick (19th overall) obtained from the Kings in the Kevin Fiala trade. Minnesota also obtained young defenseman Brock Faber in the transaction, already employed more than 24 minutes per game.

The Flyers prospect, drafted fifth overall in 2022, after Shane Wright, will spearhead the attack on the American side. He had ten points in seven games last year at this Championship, at only 18 years old. A power forward who can play center or wing.

Some Canadian fans dreamed of it for a while, before seeing this young American center being drafted fourth overall by the San Jose Sharks, one spot ahead of CH. Smith has 23 points in 17 games in his first NCAA season at Boston College. He had 127 points in 60 games last year in the U.S. development program.

The Czech Republic received an unexpected gift when the Buffalo Sabers agreed at the last minute to loan them their late first-round pick in 2022. At just 19 years old, Kulich was the American League’s leading scorer at the time of crossing the Atlantic to join its national junior team, with 16 goals in 23 games in Rochester.

Another Sabers prospect, center Noah Östlund, was named Sweden’s MVP in a preseason game against the Americans on the eve of the tournament. He will form a formidable duo with Jonathan Lekkerimaki, like him a first-round pick in 2022. Östlund has speed to spare and a lot of creativity.

Canada seems to suffer more than the others with the loss of Bedard, Fantilli and Wright, but let’s not forget other countries, Slovakia, for example…

Slovakia, a small country of barely five million souls, which has seen its lean years, could have terrified the giants if it had been able to count on its two best, winger Slafkovsky and defender Nemec, the two first picks in the 2022 draft. Slafkovsky is now established in the CH’s first trio and Nemec has just joined his compatriot in the NHL, with the Devils, where he already plays more than 20 minutes per game.

At the time when Seattle Kraken GM Ron Francis announced his refusal to lend his young star to the Canadian team, Wright had just been recalled to the National League and Francis affirmed that his protégé had nothing to gain from play this tournament. Wright stayed in Seattle for only three games and had just one point in his last five games at Coachella Valley in the American League. Finally…

Even if he is eligible for the current tournament and the 2025 tournament, it would have been almost indecent to allow Bedard to participate in this Championship after his 23-point performance in just 7 games with Canada last year. Heading into the tournament, Bedard already had 30 points in 33 games with the poor Blackhawks.

The Americans already have plenty of offensive power and should recover from the loss of Cooley, 14 points in 7 games last year. We reduced Cooley’s playing time recently in Arizona, he now plays in a fourth line, so it would not have been unthinkable that we would consider loaning him out for the duration of the tournament, but we prefer to keep him in a stable environment.

Sweden is among the favorites for the tournament. This team would have been formidable with this young center to support Noah Östlund, Jonathan Lekkerimaki, Liam Öhgren and company, but Carlsson’s place is in the NHL, where he already has 15 points in 23 games in Anaheim, at just 18 years old.