It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, which means the 2012 World Junior Championship isn’t far off either.
On Friday, 41 CHL players will take the ice on Calgary in order to prove to Head Coach Don Hay they have what it takes to don the maple leaf.
11 of these guys are from the WHL, and today we’ll take a look at their chances.
Tyler Bunz of Medicine Hat is the lone WHL goalie invited and the only Oilers draft pick at camp. He’s been a big part of the Tiger’s season this year and has a very good chance at making the Canadian roster, possibly as the starter.
On defence, both Alex Petrovic and Matthew Dumba come from the Red Deer Rebels. Petrovic, an Edmonton native, has an outside chance at a roster spot while Dumba could stick as depth.
Also on the bubble is Brenden Kichton of Spokane and another of four Edmonton born defencemen, and Joe Morrowof Portland.
The last WHL blueliner is draft-eligible Ryan Murray of Everett, a potential top 5 pick. He should be a lock to make the team but is still recovering from a high ankle sprain that has put him on the shelf since mid October.
Up front, the Kelowna Rockets Brett Bulmer wasn’t part of the Summer camp but earned an invite with his play this season. Bulmer had three assists in his first nine NHL games with the Minnesota Wild before being returned to the Rockets.
Michael Ferland is a Flames prospect (this is not an oxymoron) and possesses that blend of size and skill that every coach craves. He’ll be joined by Brandon teammate Mark Stone, the WHL’s leading scorer. He’ll be there Boxing Day.
One of three returnees from last year, Quinton Howden of Moose Jaw should have a spot locked up on this team. He’ll be hungry to better his Silver medal.
Mark McNeill is an interesting two-way forward out of Prince Albert that could be a Don Hay type of player. Don’t be surprised to see him in a bottom six role.
Portland teammates Ty Rattie and Brad Ross both have healthy chances to crack the roster, Rattie perhaps more so than Ross.
Out of Kelowna, Max Reinhart (another Flames prospect?) has the Memorial Cup experience Team Canada likes.
He also has the pedigree as the son of Paul Reinhart.
Finally, there’s no chance the little Giant Brendan Gallagher doesn’t get the nod from his own head coach. He had a breakout camp in Montreal this year and signed his first pro contract a month ago. He has 23 goals and 44 points in 27 games this year.