It’s basically the witching hour for hockey fans. In a normal year, there’d be NHL games and a new season underway. However, the new abnormal is upon us due to the pandemic. So, we’re in the off-season with unsigned free agents scattered and salary arbitration approaching for Group II free agents Ryan Strome and Brendan Lemieux.
While we wait out what the Rangers organization decides on Strome and Lemieux, there is some exciting news involving prospects. As usual, the much ballyhooed U20 World Junior Championship is expected to go off without a hitch this Christmas. Yes, it’ll begin on Christmas Day.
This marks the 45th Edition of the prestigious tournament. Due to COVID-19, it’ll be played at Rogers Place in Edmonton without fans. That’s too bad. Part of what makes this tournament unique is seeing some of the fans who support their countries in the stands. Such are the circumstances.
I mentioned good news. It involves three Rangers prospects. Canada announced its 46 players that are invited to a 28-day selection camp located in Red Deer. That process will begin on November 16. Among the 46 prospects are Rangers Draft picks Matthew Robertson, Braden Schneider and Dylan Garand.
So, you’ll have three of the team’s prospects looking to make the cut. It won’t be easy. We’re talking about Canada. They’ll have roster cuts and eventually pare down to probably 25.
What we do know is that a pair of Rangers defensemen Robertson and Schneider will have a chance to make the team. Both are 19 with Robertson taken in 2019 due to his birthday being March 9. He went in Round Two at number 49. On the other hand, the Rangers traded up to number 19 to grab Schneider, bypassing center Hendrix Lapierre, who fell to number 22 where the Capitals moved up to get him. Both Schneider and Lapierre will be looking to impress the coaching staff bettween Nov. 16-Dec. 13.
The third Rangers prospect invited is goalie Garand. The 18-year old from Victoria, British Columbia will compete for one of three goaltender spots among five netminders. Astonishingly, he’s the highest draft pick with only Panthers seventh round pick Devon Levi out of the recent Draft Class. The remaining trio are all 2021 Draft Eligible. They include Taylor Gauthier, Tristan Lennox and Brett Brochu.
In regards to who’s returning from the 2020 roster that won the gold medal, there are six players. Rangers top pick Alexis Lafreniere isn’t among them. That might be due to the Rangers training camp preempting a January start to the 2021 season. As for the half dozen, they feature second pick Quinton Byfield (Kings ’20), Bowen Byram (Avalanche ’19), Dylan Cozens (Sabres ’19), Jamie Drysdale (Ducks ’20), Connor McMichael (Capitals ’19) and Devils first round pick Dawson Mercer (Devils ’20).
The Devils will also be represented by forward Graeme Clarke. A 2019 third round pick taken 80th. For the complete list, click on the following link. Due to the late NHL restart, Canada could be loaded with young players such as Kirby Dach, Byram, Cozens, Byfield, Alex Newhook, Drysdale, Kaiden Guhle, Jack Quinn, Cole Perfetti and Seth Jarvis all part of the roster.
It should be interesting to follow who makes the team.