Buzzing The Net - Junior Hockey

WJC2012: Canada down to 35, holds spot for HuberdeauTeam Canada is down to the roster size it could have started selection camp with, downsizing  to 35 players on Monday morning with one day of camp left.

Seven players got the bad news this morning in Calgary. Seventeen-year-old defenceman Mathew Dumba (who tweeted, "You can find me somewhere in a ditch between Calgary and Red Deer... Suiy watch #imnotactuallyseriousrelax"), along with two 19-year-old puck-moving defencemen, Jérôme Gauthier-Leduc and Brenden Kichton, were released. The four forwards headed home include two NHL first-round picks, the Chicago Blackhawks' Mark McNeill and Minnesota Wild's Zack Phillips, along with two Calgary Flames prospects who play in the WHL, Michael Ferland and Max Reinhart.

The roster is still very much a moving target. It appears Tuesday's announcement won't be the final final roster, since a spot is being held for reigning MasterCard Memorial Cup MVP Jonathan Huberdeau while his injured foot heals.

It appears Huberdeau will not need to prove himself in game action during the selection camp in order to earn a spot on the final 22-man roster.

"Jonathan just came back from his X-rays, the doctors have looked at him, he's getting evaluated," said Hay. "He won't go on the ice today. Hopefully we'll see a little bit more from him tomorrow. We've seen a lot from him, of what he's done in the past, what he's capable of doing and we're, at this time, we're really comfortable with what we've seen."

Although Hay and his staff will unveil the players who have made the team on Wednesday, Canada does not have to officially finalize its roster until Dec. 25.

"If we feel he won't be ready for the 19th we'll have to look at it from there," said national team head scout Kevin Prendergast. "The other option was keeping an extra player, but we don't what to do that either. Hopefully in the next couple days Jonathan will be on the ice and we'll get an idea from there." (TSN)

Coach Don Hay, head scout Kevin Prendergast still have to pare down four more defencemen and seven more forwards by Wednesday, depending on what they decide to do with Huberdeau. The big takeaway from that above comment is that it seems like they don't want to carry a 23rd player as an injury replacement, only to give him the thanks but no thanks talk at a later time. (Bruce Peter of Puck Worlds has suggested that one option for such cases could be to name a 21-player roster, leaving a spot open for either the injured player or a call-up.)

The big takeaways from the first cuts? It does appear the emphasis on offence was not ephemeral, since mid-sized offensive players such as Ontario Hockey League scoring leader Tanner Pearson and WHL goals leader Ty Rattie are still in the mix. It looks like the jury remains out on taking Toronto Maple Leafs second-round pick Brad Ross as a power winger, even though he's been slowed by an injury. Three 18-year-olds who are in their NHL draft seasons are still in the hunt. Everett Silvertips defenceman Ryan Murray is supposed to be a lock for the team and many felt the Ottawa 67's Cody Ceci would give this a good run, but U of Michigan forward Phil Di Giuseppe has apparently also been a minor revelation. Of course, that could just be a surprise to people, the guy writing this included, who don't have as much time to track the NCAA.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at neatesager@yahoo.ca and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet (photo: OHL Images).

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