The US named their preliminary roster for the annual World Junior Championship on December 4th, 2013. Not included on this list was Saginaw Spirit forward Jimmy Lodge. Despite being a 3rd round pick in 2013 draft by the WInnipeg Jets, Lodge was snubbed. To be fair, a battle with injuriy limited Lodge's participation in both the Winnipeg Jets and US Junior Team camps. The injury issue extended into the early OHL season as well and resulted in a slow start. Lodge had managed 28 goals and 67 points in 64 games last season, but started this season a little slower posting 7 goals, 14 assists for 21 points in the 22 games to start the year.
After failing to be named to the team Lodge go hot, scoring 5 goals, 10 points in 6 games despite breaking an 11 game point streak on December 13th. The slick offensive center has finally rediscovered his game at the OHL level.
Despite his successes, Lodge isn't a beast on paper. He is undersized at just 6'0'', 168 lbs and he doesn't possess a top end skill set. Speed, passing, hands and physicality all have room for improvement. So how does this guy score at such an incredible level? His hockey sense is high end. This is a guy naturally born to score goals in the game of hockey. He knows where to be to score goals and create goals.
Does this sound familiar? Despite the size difference many of the same things are said about current Jet Mark Scheifele. Yet Lodge, who was projected by many as a late first or early second rounder pick, slipped to the third round where the Jets scooped him up. Lodge is doing everything in his power to show how wrong the US committee was to leave him off of the WJC list.
World Junior Championship Preliminary Rosters
Petan has been skating with 2013 3rd overall Tampa Bay pick Jonathan Drouin in camp. Head Coach Brent Sutter has been on record saying that Petan along with Drouin will be backbone of Canada's offense at the world juniors. Petan may not have ideal size but the diminutive forward will have a prime chance to show his excellent offensive skills in Malmo for team Canada.
Morrissey is more uncertain in the role he will play for Team Canada. After being much used by Team WHL Brent Sutter coach in the Subway Super Series expectations increased for Morrissey. The smooth skating two way defender is just an 18 year old in what is called a 19 year old tournament but he has a history of earning the trust of coaches everywhere he goes.
Eric Comrie is a notable absence from Team Canada. Despite being one of the best Canadian goalies this year team Canada has decided to go with mediocre veteran Jake Patterson and a "winner" (in the absence of stats) Zach Fucale. This was a notable omission that surprised many people, we'll see how this plays out.
Among Team USA invitees is Winnipeg Jets 4th rounder Andrew Copp. He is expected to play a significant role for the Americans. Although the Americans have many naturals scorers they have few natural centers. Copp is leading the Michigan Wolverines in goals with 9 and in points with 14 in 14 games. With fellow Wolverine center JT Compher injured the Americans will likely rely on Copp to add some offense. Look for him to be a presence to be felt at the WJC.
Lastly 2013 4th rounder Czech Jan Kostalek was named to the Czech Republic's preliminary roster. Kostalek has emerged as the #1 defender for the QMJHL's Rimouski Oceanic (above Philadelphia Flyer first rounder Samuel Morin) and figures to play a huge role in the Czech defense. He is a smooth skater with a great first pass that focuses on defense first to make his offense. He has shown the ability to move the play and create offense at the junior level. Although this may not transition to the next level, his defense first attitude shows much promise. At the junior level Kostalek can make things happen at both ends of the rink so watch for him to make things happen at the World Junior Championship.
Other Notes From Week
Red Deer Rebels much maligned centre Lukas Sutter had his best week of the season with 3 goals and a +3 rating in 3 games. He did also invoke 4 minor penalties in those games and his results are still not what you would expect from a 20 year old.
Several Jets NCAA defensemen prospects continue to struggle to produce at the college level. Peter Stoykewych, Aaron Harstad, and Brennan Serville all failed to produce points this week. This is nothing unusual for a group that has produced just 3 assists (Harstad (2), Stoykewych) in 47 games this season. While none of this group was ever expected to produce offensively, the regression from those 3 at the NCAA level is disconcerting.
Jets 2011 3rd rounder and Guelph Storm right winger Scott Kosmachuk produced 3 goals and 1 assists in 3 games this week. The sniper forward has moved into 11th in the OHL in scoring and after failing to be named to Team Canada for the World Juniors he is poised to move even higher.
Swedish winger Carl Klingberg continues to play himself back into the Jets plans after 2 goals last week and 5 goals on 28 shots in the past 7 games with the AHL's St. John's IceCaps. The big bang and crash winger had a 6 game recall back in 2010-11 but has struggled in the AHL since after a disastrous 2011-12 with St. John's. He has 8 goals and 12 points in 25 games which is good for 7th on the IceCaps in points.
2013 7th rounder defenseman Brendan Kichton continues to tear up the AHL in his rookie season with 2 goals and 4 assists in just 4 games last week for the St. John's IceCaps. The smooth skating, slick passing defenseman now ranks tied for 27th in AHL scoring, tied 5th in AHL rookie scoring, a stunning 4th among defenseman - leading all rookies defensemen.
Upcoming Games to Watch
Team Canada featuring Nicolas Petan and Josh Morrissey plays some pre-tournament games on Friday December 20th and December 22nd against Finland and Sweden respectively.