With exactly three weeks to go until the start of the 2024 World Junior Championships (WJC) in Sweden, Hockey Canada has invited 30 players to its selection camp.
Of those 30, all but two are members of Canadian Hockey League (CHL) clubs, with the lone exceptions being players with British Columbian ties in Matthew Wood and Macklin Celebrini.
3⃣0⃣ players have earned invites to Oakville for selection camp. 🇨🇦
3⃣0⃣ joueurs ont obtenu leur invitation au camp de sélection à Oakville. 🇨🇦
FORMATION: https://t.co/FLbsKt3fgm #WorldJuniors | #MondialJunior— Hockey Canada (@HockeyCanada) December 5, 2023
Wood was a standout with the Victoria Grizzlies before joining the University of Connecticut in 2022 and becoming a first-round pick of the Nashville Predators over the summer.
Celebrini is a Vancouver product who is having an incredible rookie season at Boston University and is projected by most experts to be the first-overall pick in the 2024 NHL entry draft.
The remaining 28 CHL players are made up of 11 from the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), nine from the Western Hockey League (WHL) and eight from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).
Peterborough Petes forward and Montreal Canadiens prospect Owen Beck is the lone returnee from the Canadian team that won gold at the 2023 WJC in the Maritimes last year.
Celebrini isn’t the only draft-eligible player invited to camp either, as goalies Mathis Rousseau and Samuel St-Hilaire and forwards Owen Allard and Markus Vidicek will be looking to hear their names called by an NHL club next summer.
“We are excited to name the 30 players who will embark on the journey through camp and eventually on to the World Juniors,” explained Peter Anholt, U20 lead for the Program of Excellence management group.
Canada has an incredible talent pool of players, and there are always difficult decisions to narrow it down. We are expecting a highly competitive camp, and we look forward to naming our final roster that will wear the Maple Leaf with pride starting on Boxing Day.”
As Anholt alluded to, the names left off this deep list of talent are almost often talked about just as much as the names that are included.
This year, that includes a pair of the WHL’s leading scorers from a pair of NowMedia markets in Andrew Cristall of the Kelowna Rockets and Riley Heidt of the Prince George Cougars.
While it’s surely disappointing for both players, it goes to show the depth of the Canadian selection pool and both will still be eligible to play for Canada at the WJC in a year’s time.
Selection camp will be held in Oakville, Ont., from Sunday, Dec. 10, until Wednesday, Dec. 13, before the team heads to Sweden for pre-tournament camp and games.
Canada will kick off the 2024 WJC against Finland on Boxing Day with puck drop scheduled for 5 am PT on TSN.