Quinton Byfield, selected by the Los Angeles Kings with the No. 2 pick of the 2020 NHL Draft, is one of six players returning to attempt to help Canada win a second straight title at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship.
The forward, who was named to the final 25-player roster announced Friday, had one assist in seven games at the 2020 World Junior Championship in the Czech Republic. Canada defeated Russia 4-3 in the final.
“Last year was a good experience and I got to experience a lot of the older guys and how they prepare themselves and what it really takes to win a gold medal,” Byfield said during selection camp. “Hopefully me, along with a couple other guys, can bring that veteran presence and carry it on to the other guys and hopefully we can go back to back here.”
Joining Byfield from the 2020 team are forwards Dylan Cozens (Buffalo Sabres), Connor McMichael (Washington Capitals), and Dawson Mercer (New Jersey Devils), and defensemen Bowen Byram (Colorado Avalanche) and Jamie Drysdale (Anaheim Ducks).
Cozens was tied for third for Canada at the 2020 WJC with nine points (two goals, seven assists) in seven games. McMichael was second on the team with five goals.
Nine players were cut from the roster earlier Friday: forwards Mavrik Bourque (Dallas Stars), Graeme Clarke (New Jersey Devils), Gage Goncalves (Tampa Bay Lightning), Seth Jarvis (Carolina Hurricanes), Samuel Poulin (Pittsburgh Penguins) and Jamieson Rees (Carolina Hurricanes), and defensemen Lukas Cormier (Vegas Golden Knights), Ryan O’Rourke (Minnesota Wild) and Donovan Sebrango (Detroit Red Wings).
The 2021 WJC is scheduled for Dec. 25-Jan. 5, 2021 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, without fans in attendance and in a secure zone similar to what the NHL used for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Teams are scheduled to arrive in Edmonton on Sunday.
Canada began its selection camp Nov. 17 with 46 players but had to pause activities for two weeks starting Nov. 25 after two players tested positive for coronavirus. That quarantine ended Tuesday and Canada played intrasquad games Wednesday and Thursday.
“This camp has been unconventional from the outset with the number of players invited and the length of camp, along with the schedule adjustment due to our two-week shutdown, but we feel we have selected a group that will give us the best chance to defend our gold medal on home ice,” said Alan Millar, who is leading Canada’s management group for the World Juniors. “It is never easy making decisions to trim down a roster, especially when every player handled adversity, faced challenges head on and remained committed to the process through our off-ice workouts and Zoom sessions.”
The final roster includes 14 forwards, eight defensemen and three goalies.
“The compete level the camp was phenomenal, it was fantastic,” coach Andre Tourigny said Thursday. “Having good players is one thing, having those guys put their best foot forward is another thing, and they did. So they’ve made it really tough on us.”
Canada will play its preliminary-round games in Group A, starting with Germany on Dec. 26, followed by games against Slovakia (Dec. 27), Switzerland (Dec. 29) and Finland (Dec. 31).
CANADA WJC ROSTER
GOALIES: Dylan Garand, Kamloops, WHL (New York Rangers); Taylor Gauthier, Prince George, WHL (2021 draft eligible); Devon Levi, Northeastern, HE (Florida Panthers)
DEFENSEMEN: Justin Barron, Halifax, QMJHL (Colorado Avalanche); Bowen Byram, Vancouver, WHL (Colorado Avalanche); Jamie Drysdale, Erie, OHL (Anaheim Ducks); Kaiden Guhle, Prince Albert, WHL (Montreal Canadiens); Thomas Harley, Mississauga, OHL (Dallas Stars); Kaedan Korczak, Kelowna, WHL (Vegas Golden Knights); Braden Schneider, Brandon, WHL (New York Rangers); Jordan Spence, Moncton, QMJHL (Los Angeles Kings)
FORWARDS: Quinton Byfield, Sudbury, OHL (Los Angeles Kings); Dylan Cozens, Lethbridge, WHL (Buffalo Sabres); Kirby Dach, Saskatoon, WHL (Chicago Blackhawks); Dylan Holloway, Wisconsin, BIG10 (Edmonton Oilers); Peyton Krebs, Winnipeg, WHL (Vegas Golden Knights); Connor McMichael, London, OHL (Washington Capitals); Dawson Mercer, Chicoutimi, QMJHL (New Jersey Devils); Alex Newhook, Boston College, HE (Colorado Avalanche); Jakob Pelletier, Val-d’Or, QMJHL (Calgary Flames); Cole Perfetti, Saginaw, OHL (Winnipeg Jets); Jack Quinn, Ottawa, OHL (Buffalo Sabres); Ryan Suzuki, Saginaw, OHL (Carolina Hurricanes); Philip Tomasino, Oshawa, OHL (Nashville Predators); Connor Zary, Kamloops, WHL (Calgary Flames)