So the Team Canada Roster for the World Juniors is out. Not a lot of Leafs on it this year, not a good sign for a team trying to gather young talent.
Last year it seemed almost a given that one of two Toronto draft picks from 2010, Brad Ross (2nd round, 43rd overall) and Greg McKegg (3rd round, 62nd overall) would be making an appearance in Alberta this Boxing Day. Instead both will be sitting at home like the rest of the nation, maybe with a little extra eggnog to numb the disappointment.
There are strong worries that this year’s entry into the tournament will lack scoring, this is a void both players should have been able to fill. This roll on a scoring line would have been best suited to McKegg, the Erie Otter had steadily improved his scoring output over the last two seasons. After a low production rookie season McKegg exploded with 37 goals, 85pts in 67 games and 49 goals, 92 points in 66 games while being a combined +38. This year is a different story, playing on an woefully bad Otters team that has amassed just 4 wins in 32 games this season McKegg is has a lowly 10 goals and an abysmal -33 this season.
Even with McKegg seemingly taking a step back this season there was still hope with Ross managing to stick around until the final cuts. Ross, from the WHL Portland Winterhawks, has, like McKegg, steadily improved his production since being drafted but is playing for a playoff bound team. But again, much like McKegg, his plus minus that combined for + 51 over the past 2 seasons is a -7 this year. In the end Ross was deemed unworthy of joining the best of the Canadian juniors and was sent home.
It seems that both prospects are struggling to build on their achievements from last season. This could stem from, as veterans of their teams, playing against the top players in the leagues more often and are being exploited for some defensive shortcomings. Some concern over this is warranted, after all the Leafs are poster boys for how weak defensive play can sink a team since the lockout, bad goalies notwithstanding.
Luckily both these kids are several years away from getting a serious shot in the big leagues. Hopefully by then they will have rounded out a little more and can recapture the magic that got them both drafted in the top 100 not that long ago.