For the first time since the Stanley Cup was awarded in September, hockey fans have some meaningful hockey on the way. The IIHF World Under-20 Junior Hockey Championship begins Christmas Day in Edmonton, featuring more bubble hockey, using the very same rules the NHL used to successfully keep COVID-19 at bay.
As Team Canada begins defence of its title, this year’s group had a small COVID outbreak during its selection camp in Red Deer, Alberta last month, forcing a shut down for a couple of weeks. Ottawa Senators’ 2020 first rounder Ridley Greig was among those who tested positive and, despite 14 days of quarantine, was ultimately deemed unfit to play. Greig was the lone Senator prospect invited to Canada’s camp.
But Senators’ prospects do have a nice history in this tournament. Today, Faces Magazine presents the Top 5 Team Canada World Junior performances by an Ottawa Senators’ draft choice.
Thomas Chabot – 2016, 2017 – 12 games, 4 goals, 9 assists, 13 points, 1 silver medal
Chabot played for the Saint John Sea Dogs and was drafted by Ottawa in the first round, 18th overall in 2015. In the 2017 World Junior tournament, Chabot was incredible. He was named tournament MVP, an award no other defenceman has ever won. Chabot played almost 44 minutes in the final game – a shootout loss to Team USA. He closed that tournament with four goals and six assists. Entering his fourth season in Ottawa, Chabot is seen as a cornerstone of the current rebuild in Ottawa, about to start an 8-year NHL contract worth $8 million per season.
Curtis Lazar – 2014, 2015 – 14 Games, 8 goals, 8 assists, 18 points, 1 gold medal
Lazar played for the Edmonton Oil Kings and was drafted in the first round, 17th overall in 2013. A few months later, he suited up for Canada at the World Juniors, posting 7 points in 7 games, helping Canada to a fourth-place finish. The 2015 tournament was Lazar’s crowning glory. He was named team captain and, with 9 points in 7 games, led Canada to a gold medal. Lazar made the NHL but hasn’t yet lived up to the expectations created by that performance. He’s still in the NHL, however, now playing with the Buffalo Sabres.
Mark Stone – 2012 – 6 games, 7 goals, 3 assists, 10 points, 1 bronze medal
Stone played for the Brandon Wheat Kings and was drafted in the 6th round, 178th overall in 2010. Being drafted so late, Stone really turned heads scoring 229 points combined over the next two seasons in Brandon. That tends to get you noticed by Hockey Canada. Surrounded by teammates with first-round pedigree, the 6th rounder led Canada in tournament scoring with 10 points in 6 games. Stone became a huge fan favourite in Ottawa but, with unrestricted free agency looming, the Senators traded him to Las Vegas in 2019. Stone is entering the second year of an 8 year contract with the Knights worth $9.5 million a season.
Drake Batherson -2018 – 7 games, 7 goals, 7 points, 1 gold medal
Batherson played mainly for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and was drafted in the 4th round, 121st overall in 2017. Unlike most Team Canada selections, Batherson was fully overlooked in his first year eligible for the NHL draft. He simply wasn’t big enough. But, one major growth spurt later, and he was quickly on the radar of both Ottawa and Team Canada. Batherson led the tourney in goal scoring with 7 goals in 7 games, helping Canada win gold. After two dominant seasons in Belleville, Batherson is expected to become a full-time NHL’er this season, with a decent chance at a top-six role right out of the gate.
Alexandre Daigle – 1993, 1995 – 14 games, 2 goals, 14 assists, 18 points, 2 gold medals
Daigle played for the Victoriaville Tigres, drafted 1st overall in 1993. He was part of a 5-year run of Canadian gold medals, winning in 1993 and 1995. After winning gold in ’93, Daigle didn’t play in 1994 because he had begun what would be an underwhelming career in the NHL. He played all 84 games for the Senators but, when the NHL lockout struck the following season, Daigle was still young enough to play junior hockey. So, along with six other players who’d otherwise be playing in the NHL, Canada had itself a dream team in 1995 and trampled everyone that year. Despite the Connor McDavid-like expectations for Daigle, he became only an average NHL player. He now operates a movie studio in Montreal.