**Note: Curtis Lazar has been loaded to Team Canada by the Ottawa Senators and will participate at the 2015 World Junior Hockey Championships but this post was written before the Lazar news was released.**
A dynamic offensive group. McDavid will produce with whoever he is with, but Petan and Duclair on his wings could mean bad news for whoever they go up against. Petan is an elite set up man who has proven to be very good in big games. Duclair's skating ability alone sets him apart from the other wingers. If these three were grouped together, the offense they could generate would be absolutely terrifying.
Domi - Reinhart - Virtanen
Another group of dynamic forwards, however Domi and Virtanen play with a bit more of an edge. Domi and Reinhart are easily top 6 forwards, however there are a ton of players who could fit on the right wing. Virtanen gets the nod from me because of his finishing ability and complete 200 foot game. If they struggle out of the gate, Robby Fabbri would be the next to get a shot on the second line.
Dal Colle - Fabbri - Chartier
An interesting mix of offense first players. All three guys play with a 'shoot first' mentality and they should be able to generate a large number of scoring chances. Fabbri is a player who could easily move into the top 6 as his offensive instincts are superb. Chartier is likely a surprise here, but after a superb start to the year he has proven he can be a contributor. Dal Colle is another player in the running for a top 6 spot. His ability to shoot the puck and play both ends of the ice make him an intriguing player.
Dickinson - Gauthier - Crouse
A defensively responsible group of forwards who would see a great deal of time in defensive zone situations. Dickinson has been impressive through camp, and many suggest he is a lock. Gauthier plays a powerful game, and though he may not be a defensive dynamo, he is solid in his own end. Crouse has the ability to shut down top end players, and his play without the puck is almost better than when he has the puck.
Morrissey - Bowey
The soon to be Kelowna Rockets top defensive pairing is an easy choice as the top 2 at the WJC. Both play a creative offensive game, yet are both defensively responsible. Morrissey will likely be a tournament leader in terms of points by a defenceman. Bowey came in as a bit of a wildcard, but has proven that he's more than capable of playing at this level.
Nurse - Theodore
Nurse plays a very steady, yet aggressive game and his main goal is to get the puck from his zone to the other end. He plays a simple game which would be paired nicely with Theodore who plays a strong two way style. Don't get confused, Theodore is an offense first defenceman, but he maintains strong defensive positioning and is rarely caught out of place.
Morin - Hicketts
With Nurse and Morin on the 2nd and 3rd pairings, the need for a shutdown defenceman like Heatherington isn't exactly necessary. Morin should be dominant in his own end throughout this tournament. Hicketts is an offensive minded defenceman, but like Theodore, he is responsible defensively. That leaves Fleury and Heatherington to battle it out for the 7th spot and it would not surprise me to see Fleury sent back to Red Deer.
The forward squad I organized above places a ton of importance on their ability to find chemistry and generate scoring chances. If they are able to do this, you will likely see them in the gold medal game.
The defensive corp has far fewer question marks around them, but chemistry could still be an issue, as it likely will be with every team. There's a solid amount of offensive minded defenders including Morrissey, Bowey, Theodore, and Hicketts, however all of them are defensively responsible. An intriguing pairing which may see some penalty kill time is Morin alongside Nurse. Their size alone would shutdown a lot of other teams forward group. Bottom line, if the guys can find chemistry and create opportunities amongst one another, a top 3 finish is more than likely.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for a WJC preview coming soon.