CALGARY — Team Canada announced some lineup changes for Wednesday afternoon's game against a Canadian university team.
Sitting out from the action at camp are forwards Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Ryan Strome, Jonathan Huberdeau, Boone Jenner, Mark Scheifele, Phillip Danault, Charles Hudon and Brett Ritchie. There are four defencemen who will be spectators at the Markin MacPhail Centre in Calgary: Morgan Rielly, Dougie Hamilton, Scott Harringon and Xavier Ouellet.
Ouellet, a second round pick of the Detroit Red Wings, is the lone player in the group who has yet to play a game, after suffering a high ankle sprain the first week of December while in the QMJHL. He was on the ice with the rest of his shelved teammates during the Wednesday morning practice.
The players kept out of Wednesday's games are practically a lock to make Team Canada, which will open the tournament against Germany. It'll be a battle for the remaining players to make their case for a roster spot in a relatively short time -- for some, this next game could be their last. Team Canada head coach Steve Spott said he was planning to make the first round of cuts after the game against the CIS squad.
"It's easy to pick the front-end players and the veteran players," said Spott. "The challenge now is going to be the depth in our lineup and that's going to be a late night and we're prepared for that."
Spott has said on a number of occasions this week that his main concern is taking a healthy lineup over to Ufa, Russia when the World Junior Hockey Championships start on Dec. 26.
"We have players that have to be grittier and play tougher," said Spott on Tuesday night after their Red-White intrasquad game. "(Wednesday night) against the CIS, they'll have more of an opportunity... it'll be nice to have a different level of competition to allow the players that play a grittier-type style to play their game."
Among those spots open include the third and final goaltending spot that looks like a fight between Jake Paterson of the OHL's Saginaw Spirit and Laurent Brossoit of the WHL's Edmonton Oil Kings. Despite Spott's protestations, it was clear before camp even started that Belleville Bulls netminder Malcolm Subban would be the team's likely starter, with Jordan Binnington of the Owen Sound Attack as his backup. Both Brossoit and Paterson will be tested further as they'll serve as goaltenders for the CIS side.
On the blueline, Ryan Murphy, who plays for Spott in Kitchener and has been cut from two previous camps, and Mathew Dumba of the WHL's Red Deer Rebels should be safe from the first round of cuts, but they'll still need a stronger showing.
Offensively, 17-year-old stars Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin, who are linemates with the QMJHL's Halifax Mooseheads, will be separated for the first time at camp for the CIS game. Drouin is penciled in on the first line with fellow draft-eligible forward Sean Monahan of the Ottawa 67's and Portland Winterhawks star Ty Rattie. Mackinnon will centre the second line between WHLers Hunter Shinkaruk and JC Lippon.
"In a camp like this you only have a couple of times to really showcase yourself," said Oilers star Nugent-Hopkins, who was loaned to the team from the AHL. "Guys are definitely going out there to prove something."