OHL Roundup: Hockey Canada announces selection camp
By Mackenzie Liddell, Contributing Editor
Toronto, Canada (Sports Network) - A look at some of the storylines around the Ontario Hockey League:
TEAM CANADA SELECTION: THE GOOD AND BAD
It's difficult to be overly critical of Hockey Canada's decision-making process, as there simply is too much talent across the Canadian Hockey League to make everyone happy.
Of the 40 players invited to selection camp set to run Dec. 12-15 in Toronto, 11 are from the OHL, 16 from the WHL (Western Hockey League), six from the QMJHL (Quebes Major Junior Hockey League) and four are NCAA representatives.
Unlike previous editions of the national team, this year's squad lacks elite offensive stars - or at least that's what Hockey Canada head scout Kevin Prendergast is saying.
"There's no superstars on the team. It's going to be a blue-collar team," he told reporters on Tuesday. "It's a team that's going to win by working hard and outworking teams. There's no (Sidney) Crosbys or any of those kinds of players, but there will be players who come to forefront."
Sure, there is no Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle or John Tavares, but there are still plenty of guys to fill the net.
Considering Sean Couturier (Drummondville, QMJHL) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Red Deer, WHL) are pegged to be top-three picks in the upcoming NHL draft, you would hope they will help carry the offense.
The same goes for Ryan Johansen (Portland, WHL), Brett Connolly (Prince George, WHL) and Brayden Schenn (Brandon, WHL) - all top-five picks in previous draft years.
One noticeable trait that stands out, however, is the absence of OHL firepower.
Ottawa's Tyler Toffoli and his 25 goals were left off the list, along with Erie captain Greg McKegg and Oshawa's Christian Thomas.
Besides Owen Sound's offensively gifted duo of Joey Hishon and Garrett Wilson, Hockey Canada officials opted instead for Ontario's rugged two-way players such as Zack Kassian, Marcus Foligno and Casey Cizikas.
If Canada is going to avenge last year's loss to the United States, they will have to rely on strong defensive play ... a game-plan tailor made for the coaching style of Mississauga St. Michael's Majors bench boss Dave Cameron.
Canada's defense offers a nice blend of speedy puck movers and physical, bruising blueliners.
Cameron will rely on Windsor's Ryan Ellis, who will be returning for his third tour of duty, fellow returnee Calvin de Haan and Kitchener's Ryan Murphy to run the power play and get the puck to the forwards.
Erik Gudbranson is one of four players who stands at least 6 feet, 4 inches invited to camp, giving Canada plenty of beef on the back end.
The OHL also will have two goalies at camp, as Majors net minder JP Anderson and Niagara's Mark Visentin will battle Olivier Roy (Acadie-Bathurst, QMJHL) and Calvin Picard (Seattle, WHL) for the starting role.
Under Cameron's watch, Canada might not be the most exciting team, but if the squad wins, it won't matter.
WEDGEWOOD LEADS WHALERS
When Tyler Seguin left for NHL training camp in the summer, a dark cloud of uncertainty was cast over Plymouth.
How do you replace the league's MVP? Who is going to be the leader?
What will it take for this team to make it back to the playoffs?
Well, after finishing the week 2-0 with impressive wins over London and Owen Sound and going 8-2 in their last 10, the answers to many of the Whalers' questions are coming into focus.
Although Whalers goalie Scott Wedgewood won't get any MVP consideration - in fact, he didn't even get an invite from Hockey Canada - he is one of the best in the business.
He sits second in the league in goals against average (2.39) and save percentage (.921) while backstopping Plymouth in 14 of its 15 wins.
So to answer the aforementioned questions, the Whalers have found their leader and MVP, and are in good shape to make a run in the playoffs.
It also should be noted that Plymouth - while not the most desirable team on paper - has great depth up front with five forwards who have at least 10 goals and 23 points.
In an interesting move, the struggling Guelph Storm dealt former first-round pick Carter Sandlak to the Belleville Bulls in exchange for shifty Slovak Richard Panik.
Clearly Guelph isn't looking to rebuild despite sitting last in the Western Conference, so adding Panik to the mix will give Guelph a fourth dimension to its already outstanding trio of Taylor Beck, Peter Holland and Michael Latta.
Ottawa winger Shane Prince is the new scoring leader after scoring five times and adding three assists in three games. He is one point ahead of Rangers forward Jason Akeson.
12/06 10:50:12 ET