April 19 2008 04:23PM
If you think youth or inexperience will keep Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano out of the running for a roster spot with Team Canada for the World Championships in Quebec City and Halifax, think again. Both dynamic Edmonton Oilers rookies have been put on notice by Team Canada that they are in contention to be added to a roster that already includes teammate Steve Staios. That's a move that could be made when the roster is finalized Monday or Tuesday. Being "on notice" doesn't mean Gagner and Cogliano definitely will join 15 players already named to the roster—the next additions depend largely on which players become available after the first round of NHL playoffs—but both are in the running. And why not? "The reason that they're under consideration is they play a mature game," Team Canada coach Ken Hitchcock told me Saturday morning. "They don't play like kids. "There's lots of 20-year-old players who aren't close to being considered because they don't have any maturity to their game. Both these guys do and that's why they're being considered." With Oilers coach Craig MacTavish joining Hitchcock's Team Canada staff as an associate coach along with Pat Burns and Mike Johnston, it's not like Gagner and Cogliano were going to slip between the cracks. They'll get a long look from Team Canada brass—GM Steve Yzerman along with Doug Armstrong and Luc Robitaille. As Hitchcock put it, "They're both on the radar." Gagner, 18, the youngest player in the NHL this season, finished third in Oilers team scoring with 13-36-49. Cogliano, 20, was right behind him with 18-27-45. Team Canada is scheduled to open camp Friday in Quebec City, and Gagner and Cogliano are among a group of 25 or so hopefuls with the "on notice" designation. Team Canada's roster could include as few as 22 players and as many as 25. If the brass opts for a number closer to 25, the final two or three spots could be filled by young players like Gagner and Cogliano. In simple terms, being part of the team would provide experience that could come in handy with the fast-approaching 2010 Olympics. "They've always had younger players on the back end of their line-up learning what it takes," Hitchcock said. —Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 5pm on Total Sports with Bob Stauffer on Team 1260.