A programming note: from today through January 5th, Backhand Shelf will be providing daily previews, updates, vodcasts and more on this year’s World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia. We won’t actually be in Russia, as the Toronto streetcars don’t connect that far (lousy TTC), but we will be watching the games on these crazy “high definition” television thingys we have, so we should have a pretty good idea what’s going on.

The primers will start today, and will fill you in on the notable players from each country, team expectations and all the rest, which you can find under one handy category “2013 World Juniors,” as seen above. Naturally, the majority of the coverage will be Canada-centric, but never fear, hockey fans: we’ve upped the output of expert awesome World Junior genius Ryan Lambert, who will providing bi-daily updates on why most non-US countries suck and should go away. I believe that includes Canada, but can’t be certain he includes us (I lied, I’m certain).

Today we’ll start by keeping it simple, given that the tournament is a ways away, and focus on Canada’s crease – not that their crease situation is exactly simple.

Four tenders have been named to the World Junior selection camp, which is currently under way in Calgary. From TSN:

While only two goalies can be named to the official roster, Team Canada will take three on their trip to Ufa in Eastern Russia. Because of the distance and difficulty getting there, the emergency (non-roster) goalie replacement needs to be on hand and close to the team.

So there you have it – two of the four below will get to don the red, white and black, and a third will get to accompany the team and will only dress in the event of an injury to one of the other two. Here are Canada’s potential keepers:

 

Player Birthdate Hometown 2012-13 Team Draft Status
Jordan Binnington 11/07/93 Richmond Hill, ON Owen Sound (OHL) STL 2011
Laurent Brossoit 23/03/93 Surrey, BC Edmonton (WHL) CGY 2011
Jake Paterson 03/05/94 Mississauga, ON Saginaw (OHL) DET 2012
Malcolm Subban 21/12/93 Toronto, ON Belleville (OHL) BOS 2012

 

 

If anyone from this group is likely to claim the role as #1 starter, it’s Malcolm Subban. But as Bob McKenzie noted, it’s been awhile since Canada has bestowed that title on anyone.

Last year, Mark Visentin and Scott Wedgewood platooned in net. The year before that it was Visentin and Olivier Roy. Two years ago it was Jake Allen and Martin Jones. Canada hasn’t had an undisputed No. 1 goalie who went wire-to-wire since Carey Price played every minute of every game in 2007.

Let’s talk a closer look. Here are their numbers this season, for a quick comparison:

 

Player GP GAA SV%
Malcolm Subban (OHL) 26 2.17 .932
Jordan Binnington (OHL) 26 2.31 .930
Jake Paterson (OHL) 28 3.49 .901
Laurent Brossoit (WHL) 21 2.73 .901

 

 

It’s tough to stack up goalies across leagues, but given that three of them are in the OHL, we have a pretty good idea of how their seasons have gone.  But as always when you look at straight numbers, there’s more to the story, and more reasons that Canada chose these four men. Here’s a little bit on each tender, and what got them an invite to prospect camp.

Malcolm Subban is a 6’1″, 188 prospect that the Boston Bruins drafted in the first round last year, 24th overall. He signed a three-year entry deal with the club. He finished his sophomore year with the Belleville Bulls with a 2.5 goals-against-average and .923 save percentage the year after being named to the OHL’s first all-rookie team. He’s got the buzz and the numbers, and seems like the front runner to start for Team Canada.

Jordan Binnington is a 6’2″ goaltender who tends the crease for Owen Sound. Binnington is only 162 pounds(!), but boasts some impressive numbers this season. He was drafted by the St. Louis Blues in 2011 in the third round (88th overall) the summer after taking his team to the Memorial Cup, where he was named to the all-star team, and earned top goaltender honours.

Jake Paterson, like all the goalies mentioned here, is tall keeper – 6’2″ tall, 183 pounds. He’s currently 18, and was drafted in 2012 by the Detroit Red Wings 80th overall in the 3rd round. He’s played in 28 games for the Spirit this year posting a 3.49 GAA and a .901 save percentage.

Laurent Brossoit clocks in at 6’3″, 200, and is the 19 year-old starter for the Edmonton Oil Kings. Last season he posted a 2.47 GAA and .917 save percentage in the regular season, before carrying his team to a WHL title. All said and done, he was named the playoffs most valuable player. The Flames drafted him in the 6th round (164th).  Bob McKenzie says he was “[...]was brilliant in his Subway Series game in Vancouver and needed to be after being less than stellar in the summer against the Russians (and last spring at the Memorial Cup).

Likely goaltending situation: My take is that tenders will likely end up being Subban and Binnington, with Brossoit earning the third spot. Brossoit strikes me as inconsistent, and his stats this season aren’t particularly eye popping, but he’s a big guy who’s performed on the big stage who’s shown he can win the big game. Paterson is having a good year, and since he’s the younger of him and Brossoit, it would make sense to have him along for the ride to get exposed to what the pressures of the big game situations will really feel like, but I think the risk of actually needing your 3rd goalie in the event of emergency will override future considerations.

For Subban and Binnington, it’s just a matter of who’s got the hot hand in these short tournaments. My money though, is that Subban will be given every opportunity to prove his worth out of the gate.