Earlier this week, the World Junior Championships were spurred to life with the participating countries naming their rosters for their selection camps.
The two rosters that mean the most in these parts – Canada and the United States – were released on Monday and Tuesday respectively, and both had Buffalo Sabres prospects in the mix.
The Canadian camp will consist of 37 players, including Sabres forward prospect Dan Catenacci who plays for the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack. Catenacci has been quietly constructing an impressive season in Southeastern Ontario, currently notching 44 points in 30 games, good for eighth in the league.
The forward competition will be tight, but Catenacci has a great chance to make the Canadian squad. Sabres prospects have made a splash on the Canadian roster in the past, with Zack Kassian, Marcus Foligno and Mark Pysyk all playing well the past two years.
Canada’s roster will be finalized on December 13.
The United States camp roster included University of Wisconsin defenseman Jake McCabe, who was one of 9 defenseman invited.
McCabe is a solid defender and moves the puck well, something that the United States team may need to complement the bruising presences of Jacob Trouba and Brady Skjei, who are likely to be patrolling the blue line for the Americans.
McCabe has had a solid season at Wisconsin thus far, scoring six points in 12 games, but showing his strong skating and closing abilities against tough NCAA competition. McCabe, like Catenacci, has an excellent chance of making the United States’ final roster.
The U.S. camp is December 16-18.
As for the teams across the pond, there is little surprise as to the Sabres prospects selected to their respective teams.
Mikhail Grigorenko will be suiting up with fellow 2012 NHL Draft first rounder Nail Yakupov for the Russian team looking to rebound from a 1-0 loss to Sweden in the finals last year. Last year, Grigorenko impressed in the World Juniors debut, scoring five points in six games.
Goaltender Andrey Makarov was also invited to the Russian camp.
Joel Armia, who just returned from a concussion in mid-November, will represent Finland for the third time. Armia played extremely well last year for the Fins, scoring five goals in seven games.
Grigorenko and Armia are going to be looked at to lead their respective teams this season, with both being one of the, if not the, most talented players on their team.
Another Sabres first rounder that could make or break his team’s chances is Zemgus Girgensons who would play for Latvia. Because he is currently with the Sabres’ AHL affiliate in Rochester, his participation in the World Juniors has not been confirmed, but if he does play he will likely be Latvia’s best player.
The 2013 World Junior Championships will be held from December 26 – January 5 in Ufa, Russia. The United States and Canada are in Group B along with Russia, Slovakia and Germany. All Canadian and American games will be televised on NHL Network. Canada’s first game is December 26 at 3:30pm ET against the Germans. The United States’ first game is December 27 at 8pm ET against the Germans.