When you’re the consensus ‘best player in the tournament’ and coming home without a medal, it can be difficult to find a silver lining. For Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the scoring title (pending, but likely) will be of little consolation; what do we make of his performance? Yakupov’s?

Lets look at the scoring totals for the Oilers five teenagers at the tournament:

  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 6, 4-11-15 +6. 4th place finish aside, I think these boxcars are the kind of totals we’d expect from the best player in the tournament. His 2.5 points per game included a goal in a 2-1 win over USA on December 30; 3 assists in a 4-1 win over Russia December 31; no points in a 5-1 loss to USA on January 3; and a goal and three assists in the loss to the Russians this morning. I don’t think there’s a lot of fault to be found there, but this is Canada and there will be detractors and I’m sure the Nuge will have to live with not medaling for a long time. However, I don’t see a lot to be critical of here. I’ll nick him for the performance in the loss to the American January 3, but watching that game there was clearly something bizarre going on with the icetime. GRADE: A.
  • Nail Yakupov 7, 3-5-8 +2. A major story in the Bronze medal game, Yakupov spent much of his WJ’s playing goat to the various Canadian media in attendance. Something about captains always being available after a game for questioning (as I understand it, this is not commonplace in Russia or the WJ’s). It was kind of ridiculous, but was part of this year’s tournament all the same. On the ice, it looked for the most part as though he was delivering max effort with min results, and ‘trying too hard’ would be the buzz phrase for the Russian during the tournament. Had a big game today, I think the Russian coach is a strange fellow. GRADE: B
  • Tobias Rieder 6, 3-1-4 -8. He was the best player on the ice for the Germans in every game I saw, and would have had a more successful time of it with better support. I think Rieder may end up being an actual piece to the Oilers puzzle, as his forechecking, skating and skill could be ground into an effective 2-way player to go along with all the gems at forward. Grade: B
  • Daniil Zharkov 7, 1-0-1 -1. Played much more than we were led to believe, looked good to me but I think we can identify "hands" as being an issue. Lots of chances, plenty of try and more of a physical presence than I thought he’d display. Grade: C.
  • David Musil 6, 0-0-0 +1 The Czechs had some good moments but the people I talked to (including Corey Pronman) felt Musil was not as effective on the big ice as he had been in Calgary a year ago. The deal with Musil is mobility, and it makes sense he’d have more success in tighter quarters. Grade: C.


A few comments about Team Canada and Team Russia. For years now Canada has been taking a bunch of "role" players and then worrying over secondary scoring. I understand a roster needs penalty killers and coverage men, but this edition–and many in the past–have left some real artists behind and I do believe it makes a difference. I honestly believe Team Canada’s roster choices are open to question–every year, not just this one. A change in philosophy may lead to greater success.

Team Russia’s coach made the Russian road more difficult. His goalie rotation, the lack of anything resembling line matching and roster choice in critical points in the game suggests that  Russia is lagging behind other nations in a very critical area. It will never happen, but I’d be interested in seeing what a modern coach does with the roster against all of the other strategic coaches at this event.


Second guessing hockey decisions is the national pastime. I’m going to suggest the Canadian side add some skill and lose some role players–there’s no reason to have so many 6’s, 7’s and 9’s when jacks and kings are readily available.

    • Lowetide

      In goal, I was astounded they didn’t take Laurent Brossoit and know for certain that’s shared by a few observers.

      I hate that they didn’t include any of the NCAA kids, specifically Phil DiGiuseppe. I think Hunter Shinkaruk should have received stronger consideration. I know that would have meant 3 17-year olds but who cares? Adam Lowry never got a sniff, don’t understand why. Colin Smith, Ryan Pulock, others.

      But more than specific players, I think Canada should bring more skill. Especially up front.

      • B S

        What are your thoughts on the line combos as well. It seems odd that two players who are identified as two way players like Huberdeau and Schieffle were placed with Hopkins instead of Jenner and McNeill. You’d think Mackinnon and Drouin would have fit in better with RNH as all three are considered high end offensive players. Everytime I saw RNH’s linemates they seemed much more adept at the physical grinding cycle instead of the skill cycle you see from the Oilers young trio and the likes of the Sedins.

  • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

    LT: ” Lets look at the scoring totals for Canada’s five teenagers at the tournament”….Canada’s??
    You mean Oilers, right?

    EDIT: Not to be a grammar Nazi or anything like that

  • Lowetide

    Canada was weak on defence & I would start with Murphy! I did not like the immediate attachment to Subban almost anointing him the starter before he even earned it! Very average tending!

  • Ducey

    We will always have the Spengler…

    I agree they need to look at having fewer “power forwards” and look at players who may not project well as NHLers, but who would excel at the tournament – ie smaller players with speed, smarts, and skill.

    Kevin Prendegast (and a few other old boys)needs to go. Maybe the Flames can put him in charge of scouting 🙂

    They also need to look at some kind of national goalie development camps/ program – this has been a problem for some years now.

  • Ducey

    Canada needs to pick their best players . Most of this losing streak, top draft elligibles have been snubbed, ala nuge. Now, it is a ninteen year olds tounament, but how can the nuge be ready for the nhl the next year, and some on the team were far from. One of the last time the canadians won, goalies werent spectacular (tokarski, peckard). I think the difference was the forward corps which had more skill players. I think canada needs to run at least 3 skill lines, with top draft elligibles on them. Defensively, canada needs to be better, but puck movers like murphy are still important. Hopefully a goalies will start to emerge in future years, though subban should have been better, as he was highly touted and a superb goatendender prior to the tournament. Finally, the team needs Jordan Eberle.

    7 Angelo Esposito L/G 6’1″ 180 02/20/89 Montreal, QC Montreal (QMJHL) PIT/ATL ’07 (1, 20)
    11 * Zach Boychuk L/G 5’10” 175 10/04/89 Airdrie, AB Lethbridge (WHL) CAR ’08 (1, 14)
    12 Brett Sonne L/G 6’0″ 187 05/16/89 Maple Ridge, BC Calgary (WHL) STL ’07 (3, 85)
    14 Jordan Eberle R/D 5’10” 181 05/15/90 Regina, SK Regina (WHL) EDM ’08 (1, 22)
    15 Stefan Della Rovere L/G 5’11” 200 02/25/90 Maple, ON Barrie (OHL) WAS ’08 (7, 204)
    18 Cody Hodgson R/D 5’11” 189 02/18/90 Markham, ON Brampton (OHL) VAN ’08 (1, 10)
    19 * John Tavares L/G 6’0″ 203 09/20/90 Oakville, ON Oshawa (OHL) 2009 Dft/Rep.
    22 Tyler Ennis L/G 5’8″ 165 10/06/89 Edmonton, AB Medicine Hat (WHL) BUF ’08 (1, 26)
    24 Jamie Benn L/G 6’1.5″ 202 07/18/89 Victoria, BC Kelowna (WHL) DAL ’07 (5, 129)
    25 Chris DiDomenico R/D 5’11” 170 02/20/89 Woodbridge, ON Saint John (QMJHL) TOR ’07 (6, 164)
    28 Patrice Cormier L/G 6’1.5″ 201 06/14/90 Cap-Pelé, NB Rimouski (QMJHL) NJ ’08 (2, 54)
    29 Evander Kane L/G 6’1″ 180 08/02/91 Vancouver, BC Vancouver, (WHL) 2009 Dft/Rep.

    No. Player Birthdate Hometown 2012-13 Team Draft Status
    15 Anthony Camara 04/09/93 Toronto, ON Barrie (OHL) BOS 2011
    21 Phillip Danault 24/02/93 Victoriaville, QC Victoriaville (QMJHL) CHI 2011
    29 Jonathan Drouin 27/03/95 Ste-Agathe, QC Halifax (QMJHL) 2013
    11 Jonathan Huberdeau* 04/06/93 Prevost, QC Saint John (QMJHL) FLA 2011
    22 Boone Jenner* 15/06/93 Dorchester, ON Oshawa (OHL) CBJ 2011
    17 J.C. Lipon 10/07/93 Regina, SK Kamloops (WHL) Undrafted
    23 Nathan MacKinnon 01/09/95 Halifax, NS Halifax (QMJHL) 2013
    24 Mark McNeill^ 22/02/93 Newmarket, ON Prince Albert (WHL) CHI 2011
    9 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 12/04/93 Burnaby, BC Oklahoma City (AHL) EDM 2011
    8 Ty Rattie 05/02/93 Airdrie, AB Portland (WHL) STL 2011
    20 Brett Ritchie 01/07/93 Orangeville, ON Niagara (OHL) DAL 2011
    19 Mark Scheifele* 15/03/93 Kitchener, ON Barrie (OHL) WPG 2011
    18 Ryan Strome* 11/07/93 Mississauga, ON Niagara (OHL) NYI 2011

  • Spydyr

    The left the best goalie at their training camp home.Started the second best goalie after the pre-tournament games.

    Stupid is as stupid does.

    Hockey Canada got what they asked for.Third rate goaltending..

    Take the best players available.It has been shown time and time again .Good players can fill roles they are not used in on their club teams.The best hockey players are the best in any role.

    When the games are on big ice bring the best skaters.Smaller ice sure bring a couple corner men for the fourth line.

    Don’t try to fill roles.Just bring the best for what you need.Be it big or small ice.

  • 24% body fat

    -Pendergast pick two guys who could play hockey out of like 1000. How is he suppose to pick the best of the best if he cant find an NHL player

    -Why is the media in love with Schiefele? His offense was all because of Nuge and their were a lot of dumb plays by him. Button is Stupid if he thinks he is better than Huber or Strome

    -Strome carried his line and was the second best player despite his plus minus. He had lots of points and generated offense even if he didnt score in all of the games, and did so with lesser linemates than every other top 6 forward.

    -Huberdeau, nice of you to show up.

    -Murray would have been better injured than Murphy.

    -More convinced now than ever that Reiley is not a top ten prospect not in NHL. Rushing the puck in the nhl is much different than the WHL. Too many give aways and not enough attention in the defensive. Again Button has his head in his bum to think this guy is better than Yak, Strome, or Trouba (who was sick). Good pick Jets, way better than last year. Not to say he wont be good, but it will take time. Another Leafs pick over rated because of his market, AKA Kadri Syndrome.

    2011 redraft team need aside

    1.RNH 2. Landeskog 3. Couturier 4. Larsson 5. Strome 6. Huberdeau 7. Hamilton 8. Zibanijed 9. Gibson 10. Baertschi

  • Ducey

    Since he came home from the camp LB is 5-0 with the Oil Kings. Terrible choice in net perhaps colored by an Eastern bias towards players from the OHL and QMJHL. The goal tending was a huge issue. How many minutes did Ryan Murphy play? Too many.

    RNH was and is the class of this years WJHC’s. Remember he wasn’t good enough years ago to make the team. There are times that Hockey Canada leaves me shaking my head.

    Yakupov.Captain? Please. Was that given to him by his head coach? The Russians looked like they were keystone cops. The head coach for Russia was way over his paygrade. He should’ve been coaching 5-6 year old’s .Not a national junior team.What a joke.The Russian Ice Hockey Federation should fire this bozo as fast as they can.

    The good thing is that when Yakupov comes to the Oilers he’ll be surrounded by “Professional” coaching. Not the monkey in the suit type that Russia sent to the WJHC’s.

    Brent Sutter should without question be the head coach and General Manager of next years Team Canada. No if, and”s or buts. Hockey Canada needs to put in place a general manger for at least 4 year cycles. There should be consistency in that position. It seems the ragtag way we approach the WJHC”s,the Spengler, the Olympics,and the World Hockey Championships has got to stop. As a fan I would like to see management in place that works in place year round and in conjunction with Hockey Canada in bringing together players who they have identified to play for Team Canada. Regardless if its the Spengler or the Olympics we need a unified strategy along with a philosophy that ensures that wherever and whenever Canada plays that the best players available are chosen to represent Team Canada. Based on Meritocracy and not on Regionalism or favoritism.

    The past few years have been alarming to say the least. The gap is now closed between us and the U.S., Our lack of cohesiveness and dedication has seen us slip from the forefront of international hockey. Vancouver 2010 was a shining moment for Canada.But one lest we forget that was one shot away from being a silver medal rather than a gold. Hockey Canada is to blame for its lack of leadership and its inability to map out a plan for success.

    When the World Hockey Championships begin this spring who will lead them? It should be in place already. The Olympics? Next years Spengler? next years U17 and U18? If we expect success than I think we need to have leadership in place that the players can look to for that guidance. Not 2 weeks before a tournament. The mishmash of coaching styles that we see from year to year is having a detrimental effect on out National programs. Its time Hockey Canada showed leadership and appointed coaches on 2-3year rotation. Its inconceivable that we have let out our national pride take such a hit because a lack of commitment and leadership from the top. A balanced,focused approach with leadership could pave the way for better results.

    • 24% body fat

      They already had two top 2 centers. Couturier was better suited for a 3rd line center role. Nuge going to that tourney would have been the Mckinnon of 2011. Not bad but unnoticeable.

      Dont forget Seguin was ranked first also and didnt make it. 17 year olds just dont make the cut much on Canada when there is a lot of 18-19 year old depth.

  • @ Lowetide:

    Yeah, the decision not to take Brossoit was one that bothered me, too. I felt the same way last year about Bunz/Wedgewood.

    I’d like to see the Russian program get some input from Magnitogorsk – they haven’t been shy about bringing in NHL-calibre coaches for their team and seem like a pretty progressive organization. With that said, Russia’s coaching was also (IMO) stronger last year – some of it’s the school of thinking, and some of it’s the individual in charge (and you could say the same thing about Canada in that regard this year vs. last year).

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Well said LT.

    Totally agree with what you mentioned. Too many Jenners, and not enough Druin types. MacKinnon appeared a little underwhelming as well, perhaps he’s much better next Christmas.

  • Top Right

    Just a question- why not play MacKinnon w/Drouin? They’re dynamic in Halifax (or so I hear) , why didn’t Spotty at least try them out together?

    It seemed to me that there was far too much line juggling, apart from the top line.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    In your analysis of RNH you neglected to mention his terrible face-off percentages. I’m not sure what this specifically cost us, but when the team was faced with retrieving puck possession, it most certainly hindered the top line. Clearly this is something he must improve upon, but one little flaw for such a spectacular player is not bad.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    I’d rate Zharkov higher. His coach shuffled him around a ton and he certainly had questionable moments, but he always looked engaged and dangerous.

    Musil I only saw for one game… but he didn’t warrant a C in that game. more like an F. he couldn’t hold the line, got beat every time in either the neutral or defensive zone and took 3 stupid penalties all while looking cory cross slow. maybe he made up for it in the other games… but he looked rough.

    Rieder was a treat… but he may have been outplayed by the young German Draisaitl.

    go vipers!

  • Canada’s defense was absolutely horrifying! Too many danglers and offensive minded sieves, not enough defensive d-men as far as I saw. I know defense takes longer to learn but really, how hard is it to look behind you, see the open man, and uhhh, you know, BACK UP?!?!?

    Canada’s goalies didn’t have a chance.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Our team Canada juniors may have finished fourth but they are undisputedly number one in the most hated team category outside of Canada, how did all of this come about?

  • The whole tournament I questioned the goaltending.Subban was good when Canada defeated Russia in the round robin, but never stole a game or two. I feel like the last few years Canada has lacked a legit number one goaltender. Where are the Carey Price ,M A Fleury or Justin Pogge (Before he went pro),does Canada even have star junior prospect up and coming for a goalie?The answer NO. Next year Jordan Binnington well probably be the starter,another goalie that can’t handle the pressure of big games. As for the rest of the team I find the game is getting to finest for the crash and bang style Canada always brings to the tourney and don,t get me wrong I love the hitting and energy but its not working anymore. Time to change the style of play.

  • It was flawed right from selection camp.

    Big ice means faster players whether small or big. USA proved that small skilled players are more effective then big 4th line body’s.

    Scouts making decisions on a goalie they had never seen in person till the selection camp, Brossoit was a brutal omission, as was Shinkaruk, Monahan and Pulock.

    A defence that could actually play defence.

    Coaching, selecting Murphy had red flags all over it should have been the first clue.
    Was out coached badly and never had an answer to USA.

    Under utilizing players over utilizing players.

    Just terrible effort by those in charge of this team.

  • Binnington is also a ’93. The third goalie, Jake Paterson, is a ’94 and was taken along for the ride with next year in mind.

    Hockey Canada seems to like the idea of having a guy play for Canada at multiple age groups over a number of years, but goalies don’t always develop linearly to say the least. But you wind up with what seems a bias towards returning Team Canada types like Jake Allen, Mark Visentin, or Malcolm Subban, while the later bloomers get overlooked. Or so it seems to me.

      • Nope, it is U-20. Birthday cut-off is calendar year, meaning next year the ’93s (like RNH and Yakupov) will no longer be eligible.

        The only time you ever see a 20-year old is when you have a guy with a very-early-January birthday, like Freddie Hamilton last year (Jan 1/92, so he turned 20 during the medal round).

  • B S

    The whole organization seemed to be a mess. That Semifinal against the USA it looked like the Canadian kids were running around like chickens with their heads cut off. Not enough prep? ambiguous coaching? I don’t know what it was, but that game should be a huge red flag to Hockey Canada.

    As you (and most of the others) have said here LT, there needs to be a change in strategy. I’m tired of seeing Boone Jenner take stupid penalties, then skate around without scoring, what’s the point of taking him year after year? Take the top players in the juniors regardless of league, or age, and to hell with that damned eastern bias and politics. Brossoit was the best available goalie all season AND at selection camp. Subban (whether he’s generally a good goalie or not) didn’t have his head in the game during selection camp and should have been the one shipped out.
    To make the difference in goaltending clear, Gibson made several saves he had no sane chance of making, he saved that game for the U.S., Subban wasn’t bad, but he never stole the game. It was the same problem with Visentin the last couple of years.

    Simple philosophy for Hockey Canada to follow: Winners are in, losers are out. A player isn’t up to snuff, cut him. He takes a selfish penalty, bench him, regardless of how good he is. I can take losing when we send our best players and they crack or muff it, they’re just teenagers, but I can’t stand it when we lose because the empty heads running the team cut it down before it gets going.

    With regards to Yakupov at the WJC, I saw a little lack of puck luck, but I think much of the lack of offence from him was due to a change in role for him. He spent much of his 5v5 time cheating for defence and covering for his linemates, which he likely took as his job as captain. He was also on the PK for most of the games so I think he was given a defensive role on the team (with mixed results). I suspect he would have been much more impressive if he had been playing with Grigorenko, Slepyshev and/or Kutcharov (I’m sure I mispelled that last one).

  • B S

    I’m actually amazed by the emphasis that’s placed on drafting players out of Juniors rather than college in this country, especially considering how badly the WJC camp roster got beaten by the UofA. Just like height and “truculence”, youth seems to be too highly coveted among NHL teams. Those years from 18-21 are huge in a person’s development, not just in hockey but in their attitude towards life, it might be better to put a bigger focus on college hockey for developing players. And given the brevity of most player’s careers a college background can give them a basis for life after hockey.

  • B S

    Agree with #31 Wes Mantooth

    Would also add…

    Americans were a better team from the net out, which is where a lot of competitive (playoff)games are won.

    Gibson, Seth Jones, Truba, etc. Also seemed better coached, perhaps a better system. USA National program probably has them playing together more often as a team than does Hockey Canada.

    Nuge looked fine….was in on most of Canadas goals/scoring chances….would still pick him first overall if all the World Jr Rosters were thrown into a draft today. (can see flashes of Gretzky, Sacic, and Datsyuk in his play).

    As for Yakupov….struggled trying to do too much on his own…on the positive side…he can skate…he can shoot…he can create offense…he’s pretty responsible defensively for an offensive threat….and perhaps most importantly to me, he looks physically solid/strong for his age and size….doesn’t appear to by the injury prone type….perhaps built like a Theron Fluery / Brick S**t House type of a body…..which would be refreshing as an Oiler fan.