There’s no need to panic but Jonathan Drouin won’t be skating when Team Canada takes to the ice for the first time on Friday afternoon in Toronto.
The Halifax Mooseheads star suffered a mild concussion last Friday after being hit from behind by Quebec Remparts forward Adam Erne during a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League game.
“It’s getting better,” said Drouin on Thursday, after arriving at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. “I’m not at the point of skating right away. We’re taking it day-by-day. When I see the medical staff from Team Canada … when they (give) me the OK, I am going to go on (and play).”
Drouin said he was without any headaches on Wednesday, but on Thursday he said he had some “light headaches, probably because of the flight.”
The hit became a lightning rod for criticism after the QMJHL disciplinary prefect, Raymond Bolduc, decided not to suspend Erne, a Team USA prospect, for the hit.
Team Canada head coach Brent Sutter said Drouin listed as day-to-day.
“You can’t expect him to be on the ice tomorrow,” said Sutter. “We’ll monitor him as this goes along … obviously there’s no rush or panic because we have a few days before we need to be concerned about anything.”
There’s even a chance Drouin won’t skate at all during camp, since they don’t really need him until Canada opens the 2014 tournament in Malmo, Sweden, against Germany on Dec. 26. When asked whether he expected Drouin on the ice at camp in Toronto, Sutter’s response was, “no, I’m not expecting that, but let’s just see what happens.”
The 18-year-old, who is one of Canada’s three returnees, is expected to be an integral part of the team’s offence. Drouin, the third-overall pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning in last June’s draft, is second in QMJHL scoring with 17 goals and 33 assists in 23 league games.
Hockey Canada has changed things up this year by deciding to bring fewer players into camp. This year only 25 players received the call, which means Sutter and co., will only need to make three cuts to get down to the 22-player limit. Sutter said they still haven’t decided whether cuts will be made here at camp in Toronto which ends on Sunday or in Europe.
There is still a very small chance Team Canada could end up with a late addition to camp if Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly or Calgary Flames forward Sean Monahan are made available. The NHL teams have until Dec. 19 to make their decision, since that’s the date the roster freeze begins.
Scott Salmond, Hockey Canada's senior director of hockey operations, said discussions are still ongoing. He said he’s been in contact with the Leafs about Rielly and that no final decision has been made.
“We’re going to continue to talk,” said Salmond. “We appreciate that as well.”
Originally, the Flames had said no to loaning Monahan, but since general manager Jay Feaster was fired on Thursday, Salmond said they’d be making a call to interim GM Brian Burke.
“Just out of respect for Brian we’d go back and ask him again,” said Salmond. “I’m sure Brian was part of those original discussions, but whether things change or not, that’ll be up to the Calgary Flames.
“It’s worth a try.”