The Canucks will have prospects playing on at least three teams at the World Junior tournament, as it was announced Friday evening that Jonah Gadjovich has made Team Canada.
Gadjovich will join (and play against) fellow Canucks prospects Elias Pettersson for Sweden and Olli Juolevi for Finland, while Will Lockwood is a likely candidate to make Team USA. That will give Canucks fans plenty of games to watch at the tournament that kicks off on Boxing Day.
One player that fans won’t see, however, is Michael DiPietro. The Memorial Cup-winning goaltender was cut on Friday, as he was beat out for the second goaltender spot by Dallas Stars prospect Colton Point.
Point has had an outstanding start to his NCAA season with Colgate University, posting a .938 save percentage and a 1.90 goals against average. Point also has the advantage over DiPietro in age and size: he’s a year older and four inches taller.
With the starting goaltender spot locked up by the returning Carter Hart, who has been ridiculous in the WHL this season, with an absurd .961 save percentage and 1.32 goals against average. Neither Point nor DiPietro was going to knock Hart out of top spot, so the battle was for the backup position.
In previous tournaments, Canada has taken three goaltenders, but with the tournament in Buffalo, it will be a quick trip for DiPietro if Hart or Point suffer an injury.
It’s the second time DiPietro has been cut from a World Junior selection camp, as he was invited last year as a 17 year old. The one positive is that he has one more year of eligibility.
Along with DiPietro, four other players were cut: Tanner Kaspick, Josh Mahura, Mario Ferraro, and Nick Suzuki.
Suzuki is the biggest surprise: a high-end offensive centre with 17 goals and 44 points in 26 OHL games this season, Suzuki nearly made the Vegas Golden Knights out of camp this season. If he’s nearly good enough to play in the NHL, you would think he’d be good enough for the World Junior tournament.
Suzuki joins the Canucks’ Kole Lind, along with Cody Glass, Michael Rasmussen, Owen Tippett, and Gabriel Vilardi as top picks in the 2017 draft who didn’t make the team. If Team Canada struggles to find offence, fans will look to players like Suzuki, Lind, and Glass being left off the roster being one of the big reasons why.