McKenzie: Goaltending the biggest Canadian question mark

Bob McKenzie
11/30/2012 2:23:51 AM
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With Hockey Canada set to name its selection roster for the 2013 World Junior Hockey Championship on Monday, TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie offers up a preview of what to expect as selection camp gets under way on Dec. 10.

In the final part of his pre-camp analysis, he looks at Canada's goaltending.

There's one position on Canada's national junior team - arguably the most important one and one that's not expected to be affected at all by the lockout.

And that, of course, is goal.

It's also the position that comes with the biggest question mark.

In each of the last three world junior championships, Canada has had goaltending breakdowns at crucial moments. Now goaltending wasn't the only reason Canada hasn't won gold in the last three years, but it is a big one.

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.

This year, Boston Bruins first-rounder Malcolm Subban of the Belleville Bulls is a potential No. 1 stopper and while he's guaranteed to get an invite to the final camp (and quite likely is destined to be on the team), there are some hungry contenders also in the mix.

St. Louis prospect Jordan Binnington of Owen Sound has been playing lights out in the Ontario Hockey League. Calgary Flames prospect Laurent Brossoit of the Edmonton Oil Kings 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). But he was terrific last season en route to the Oil Kings' WHL championship, so he has to be considered a contender to be one of the four goaltenders who will be invited to try out.

Undrafted Etienne Marcoux of Blainville-Boisbriand will get some consideration, as will Detroit prospect Jake Paterson of Saginaw. Class of 2013 draft-eligibles Zach Fucale of Halifax and Eric Comrie of Tri-City were great at the Under-18s last summer but they're probably talented longshots given their age.

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.

But the challenge for Team Canada remains finding one goaltender who can get the job done when it matters most.

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