Speed, speed, speed. If coach Tim Hunter has his way, his young charges will once again rocket their way atop the podium on home soil. The odds are in their favor. Despite the absence of experienced veterans, Team Canada is considered the early pick to repeat as gold medalists at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship in British Columbia.
With Ottawa Senators prospect Alex Formenton out injured, Anaheim's Max Comtois remains the only returning player from last year's winning squad. However, there's otherwise an excess of talent at all positions, featuring 16 first-round draft selections. Up front, centers Cody Glass and Nick Suzuki lead a host of gifted wingers, including the game's next great thing in 2020 draft prospect Alexis Lafreniere.
Edmonton's Evan Bouchard is just one of several up-and-coming defensive stars from a blue-line corps that's particularly deep on the right side. In net, the one-two punch of Mike DiPietro and Ian Scott provides Hunter with healthy insurance should one of the two falter.
Here's a roundup of who to watch on Team Canada, as they fight to fend off all challengers in repeating as champs.
Preliminary round game to watch: vs. Russia, Dec. 31, 8 p.m. ET
Cody Glass, C, Portland Winterhawks (Vegas Golden Knights)
Offering Vegas the luxury of dealing Nick Suzuki to Montreal (see below), this future star center will serve the Golden Knights in a prolific capacity for years to come. Drafted sixth overall in 2017, Glass is the complete package. He's big, he can move, he controls the puck exquisitely well. Admired for his transition games, his on-ice IQ is through the ceiling. Oh, and he can score too, averaging 2.1 points per game in Portland this season. With Owen Tippett on his wing, Canada's top center will produce regularly, beginning Wednesday.