Surprising, disappointing to me that Noah Juulsen isn't part of the WJC Team Canada roster. I have lost a lot of my interest for the tournament, I certainly won't watch religiously all our competitors' prospects. Sorry, that's just my fan bias at work.
I was interested/concerned with how Jérémy Roy would do early this season, whether he and Noah would end up competing for the same rightie spot on the roster. The Sherbrooke player fell off the pace really early, due mostly to injuries I would say.
Meanwhile, Noah seemed assured of a spot. During the training camp and exhibitions this summer, Noah seemed assured, and was being used as such by the coaches, on high pairings, on special teams, with other players who were assured of a spot themselves. And he delivered, playing with maturity, energy and assurance.
He got off to a good start this season, despite having his Canadiens camp interrupted by a concussion incurred in WHL pre-season games. The writeups were positive, about his leadership and contribution as a Silvertip, but the points didn't quite pile up as fast as I would have liked, to my biased, perpetually unsatisfied-fan perspective.
Then at the selection camp in Toronto a couple weeks back, he was being batted around as a sure thing, but it wasn't based on his WHL performance solely. The talking heads (Bob McKenzie and Stéphane Leroux, mostly) said that as one of only two righties on the blue line, that made him a virtual lock to be on the team.
Then, against the CIS All-Star team at that camp, Stéphane Leroux said he wouldn't draw in the lineup the first game, which is actually a good thing, he explained. The coaches don't play the players they've seen enough from to include them in their final roster. I think the other guys who didn't play that night were the Mitch Marners and Dylan Stromes, the guys who'd have to lose a limb in a skate-sharpening accident to be left off the team.
Except that another defenceman who was supposed to play suffered a last minute injury, couldn't play, so Noah was put out there almost as an afterthought, as a lineup filler. And then he played in the next game as well. I watched both, and certainly didn't come away as impressed with his performance as I had during the summer, when he was all over the ice.
And now the reports that mentioned him now said that he was only a probable lock, and relied mostly on his right shot, the lack of other righties in the mix, rather than his great play.
And during the training camp in Finland, during the exhibitions, I again didn't see the strong, fan-friendly two-way game that I saw this summer.
So we've come to this. Like others have said, it's not that big a deal that Noah didn't make Team Canada as an 18-year-old, he'll have another crack at it next year. It's a 'nineteen-year-old's tournament' after all. Except that other team's prospects, like Ottawa's Thomas Chabot, they made it as an 18-year-old. Monsieur Chabot continued his strong play from this summer, he was all over the ice, tall and graceful and surehanded with the puck.
So a kick to the fan jewels. A fishtail end, after a strong start, and getting my hopes up after good early showings, kind of like an NDP supporter this summer I guess, looking at the early polling and thinking this was as good as in the bag.
And yeah I'm bitter. It'll be hard to cheer on all the other teams' prospects. Hmmphfff. Maybe the gold medal game, but that's about it.
Did Lukas Vejdemo make Team Sweden?...