Dec 152010

Brandon Pirri was released from Team Canada’s World Junior Championships selection camp this morning.  He had survived the initial round of cuts on Tuesday, but not today’s final cuts.

Pirri was one of 39 players invited to the camp.  The Blackhawks 2nd pick in the 2009 Entry Draft (2nd round #59th overall) was invited to this week’s selection camp after not being one of the 48 players who attended last summer’s Team Canada WJC development camp.  Pirri was also one of only two players in the Under-20 camp who are currently playing professional hockey.  The other being Brayden Schenn.

Pirri took this morning’s news very hard.  Pirri, and the rest of this morning’s cuts received the news individually just after six o’clock at their hotel in Toronto.  Pirri will now return to the Rockford IceHogs.

Dylan Olsen (1st round – 2009, #28th overall), defenseman with the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (WCHA), will be the lone Blackhawks’ representative on Team Canada.  Olsen is one of seven defenseman on the Canadian roster.  Olsen is a Calgary native who was born in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Team USA opens their pre-tournament selection camp on Thursday.  Nick Leddy and Jeremy Morin are both scheduled to depart from Chicago for Albany, NY for the camp on Thursday morning.  Morin is a returnee from the 2010 Gold Medal U.S.A. U-20 WJC team.  Leddy is a heavy-favorite to make the team as well.  The US team has invited 29 players, opposed to Canada’s 39, and will only need to make 7 cuts before they unveil their official tournament roster on Dec 23rd.

Morin could be held back from joining the U.S. camp for a few days, or altogether, depending on the health status of Marian Hossa, Fernando Pisani, and to a lesser extent Dave Bolland.  Keep in mind, if Morin is recalled to the Blackhawks today – as is expected – and play in tonight’s game against the Colorado Avalance, he’ll be playing in his 9th NHL game of the season.  If he skates in a 10th game, he’ll have qualified for a year on his 3-year entry-level contract.

— Team Canada’s final cuts today were as follows: 2 goalies, 3 defensemen and 4 forwards

Cut: Goalies- JP Anderson (Mississauga-OHL), Calvin Pickard (Seattle-WHL)

Cut: Defense: Ryan Murphy (Kitchener-OHL), Ryan Murray (Everett-WHL), Mark Pysyk (Edmonton-WHL)

Cut: Forwards: Brandon Pirri (Rockford-AHL), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Red Deer-WHL), Riley Sheahan (Notre Dame-CCHA), Michael Bournival (Shawinigan-QMHJL)

Not a good day for the Western Hockey League.  The first nine cuts were made yesterday, two defenseman and seven forwards.

Those cuts: Defense: Jesse Blacker (Owen Sound-OHL), Brayden McNabb (Kootenay-WHL)

Tuesday forward cuts: Brendan Gallagher (Vancouver-WHL), Joey Hishon (Owen Sound-OHL), Ryan Howse (Chilliwack-WHL), Bradley Ross (Portland-WHL), Reilly Smith (Miami-CCHA), Linden Vey (Medicine Hat-WHL), Garrett Wilson (Owen Sound-OHL)

Ross in particular, being an early cut was a surprise given the success he’s had in Portland as a linemate of Ryan Johansen, who will be one of Canada’s top two centers along with LA Kings’ prospect Brayden Schenn.

Team Canada – WJC 2011 Roster

G-Olivier Roy (Acadie-Bathurst-QMJHL) Edmonton Oilers
G-Mark Visentin (Niagara-OHL) Phoenix Coyotes

D-Tyson Barrie (Kelowna-WHL) Colorado Avalanche
D-Jaren Cowen (Spokane-WHL) Ottawa Senators
D-Simon Despres (Saint John-QMJHL) Pittsburgh Penguins
D-Ryan Ellis (Windsor-OHL) Nashville Predators
D-Erik Gudbranson (Kingston-OHL) Florida Panthers
D-Dylan Olsen (Minnesota-Duluth-WCHA) Chicago Blackhawks
D-Calvin de Haan (Oshawa-OHL) New York Islanders

W- Carter Ashton (Tri-City-WHL) Tampa Bay Lightning
W- Casey Cizikas (Mississauga-OHL) New York Islanders
W- Brett Connolly (Prince George-WHL) Tampa Bay Lightning
C- Sean Couturier (Drummondville-QMJHL) Draft Eligible 2011
W- Cody Eakin (Swift Current-WHL) Washington Capitals
W- Marcus Foligno (Sudbury-OHL) Buffalo Sabres
W- Curtis Hamilton (Saskatoon-WHL) Edmonton Oilers
W- Quinton Howden (Moose Jaw-WHL) Florida Panthers
C- Ryan Johansen (Portland-WHL) Columbus Blue Jackets
W- Zack Kassian (Windsor-OHL) Buffalo Sabres
C- Louis Leblanc (Montreal-QMJHL) Montreal Canadiens
C- Brayden Schenn (Brandon-WHL / LA Kings-NHL)
W- Jaden Schwartz (Colorado College-WCHA) St. Louis Blues

The lone undrafted player to make Team Canada, Sean Couturier, is a big center (6-3, 192) and that likely played a role in the Pirri cut.  Canadian coach Dave Cameron and the selection team were looking to bring a disciplined, gritty all-purpose team to this year’s tournament.  With their best U-20 prospects (Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin, Jeff Skinner) unavailable, Canada may need to grind a gold medal away from defending champion U.S., Russia or Sweden.  Pirri is an offensive specialist, who doesn’t kill penalties and isn’t the best defensive player at this stage of his development. 

Three other cuts have yet to be eligible for the NHL draft.  Projected top-3 pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2011), Ryan Murphy (2011) and Ryan Murray (2012).

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