SASKATOON – Watching the IIHF World U20 Championship isn't just a fun holiday tradition for Canadian hockey fans. It's also a great preview of their nation's future Olympic rosters.
Look at how many of Canada's 2010 Olympic selections (12) previously won gold for their country at the World Juniors during the two record-setting streaks of five titles (1993-97, 2005-2009):
1993: Chris Pronger
1996: Jarome Iginla
1997: Joe Thornton
2005: Patrice Bergeron, Sidney Crosby, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Mike Richards, Brent Seabrook, Shea Weber
2006: Jonathan Toews
2007: Jonathan Toews
2008: Drew Doughty
In fact, only five members of the 2010 Olympic team never represented Canada at the World Juniors: Dan Boyle, Martin Brodeur, Duncan Keith, Patrick Marleau, and Eric Staal.
The Canadian junior program has performed so well in recent years that you could put together a very creditable and competitive roster for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, using only players that participated in the current World Junior gold-medal streak (2005-2009). This, of course, assumes that they continue to mature and develop, avoid serious injuries, and get to make the trip overseas for the next Games in line with the wishes of the overwhelming majority of NHL players.
For this hypothetical 2014 roster, goalies are listed in the likely order of priority (from starter to third goalie), while other players are listed in alphabetical order.
Goal: Steve Mason, Carey Price, Jonathan Bernier
Defence: Drew Doughty, Ryan Ellis, Kristopher Letang, Dion Phaneuf, Brent Seabrook, Marc Staal, Shea Weber
Forward: Patrice Bergeron, Jeff Carter, Sidney Crosby, Jordan Eberle, Sam Gagner, Darren Helm, Cody Hodgson, James Neal, Corey Perry, Mike Richards, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Jonathan Toews
And of course, the 2010 World Junior squad may yet yield some 2014 Olympians of its own.