Sabres well-represented on World Junior camp rosters

Jake McCabe celebrates a goal at the
2013 IIHF World Junior Championship
(credit: USA Hockey)
Training camp rosters for the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championships are being announced, and the
Buffalo Sabres are well-positioned to have several prospects take part in the annual event set to take place December 26-January 5 in Montreal and Toronto.

On Tuesday, a pair of developing forwards, Hudson Fasching and J.T. Compher, were named to Team USA’s group that will begin practice sessions Tuesday, December 16 in Boston.

Fasching proved his worth for Team USA as a versatile power winger at last year’s tournament, collecting two goals and four points as the Americans finished out of medal contention. His name sounds like he drives a Bentley, but he has the frame and improved skating game to hit like a truck when he needs to. He executed well in all three zones as Team USA evaluated talent at August’s National Junior Evaluation Camp (NJEC) in Lake Placid, NY. Fasching got his sophomore campaign off to a good start with the University of Minnesota, bagging five goals in his first eight games, but has gone without a point over his last two weekends. 

The reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Compher was well on his way to making last year’s squad before blocking a shot and suffering a foot injury prior to the final roster being named. The University of Michigan forward has produced 10 points (3+10) in his first 13 games this season, but while he is not piling up eye popping numbers, he’s made an impact nightly with his disruptive presence and two-way tenacity. Compher produced two helpers in a blowout victory over Sweden at the NJEC while seeing time at the time on the power play.

To the shock of no one, forwards Sam Reinhart and Nick Baptiste were named to Team Canada’s camp roster on Monday. The duo was among Canada’s top performers at Canada’s National Junior Team Development Camp in August, setting the stage for key roles when the final roster is announced. The Canadians begin camp workouts Thursday, December 11 in Toronto.

Reinhart collected five points (2+3) at the 2014 tournament and is a favorite to wear the “C” for the 2015 entry. Long established as an elite playmaker, Reinhart has recorded points in all 11 games (6+17) since returning to the WHL, leading the ICE to a 9-2 mark. He’ll be relied on not only for his offense, but also for his poise on the penalty kill and his all-around calming presence as Canada looks to win gold on home soil.

A speedy, physical competitor, Baptiste last wore Canadian colors at the 2013 Under-18 World Championship where he picked up three goals and eight points in the tourney’s seven games. The disappointment of not getting a U20 selection camp invite a year ago is long in the rearview mirror. He’s now one of two right-wingers on the camp roster, and with a 45-goal season on his resume, is all but a lock to join Reinhart on the final roster.

A member of the 2014 Tournament All-Star Team, hulking defenseman Nikita Zadorov has been included on Russia’s camp roster for a second kick at the can. The Sabres have yet to address the situation publicly, but leaving the Sabres for a month would not at all stifle his long-term development. In fact, it could assist in his overall maturation.

While not formally announced, Vaclav Karabacek has been tabbed to skate for the Czech Republic. An ankle injury sidelined the 2014 second-rounder during the Czechs' visit to North America camps over the summer, but his play in the 2014 QMJHL playoffs, April’s Under-18 Worlds, and more recently with Gatineau (four goals in his last four games) have him firmly on the Czech radar. The north-south winger will be ready to go when the Czech’s begin camp on Dec. 10.  

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Victor Olofsson is expected to be included when Sweden announces their World Junior roster next week. The MODO sniper looked good over the summer in Lake Placid, and currently leads all U20 players in SHL scoring.

Despite an injury riddled start the year, Jonas Johansson is still in the running for one of three goaltending spots for Team Sweden. He was the top goalie for Sweden at the U.S. NJEC, but was left off the roster at the recent 4 Nations Tournament, which historically is used to evaluate top U20 talent. 

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Among the snubs are high-scoring winger Justin Bailey and defenseman Anthony Florentino, who were both left off the Team USA camp list.

After being ignored by USA Hockey over the summer, Bailey has done nothing but elevate his play at virtually every facet of the game this season with the OHL's Kitchener Rangers. He’s bigger, faster, stronger, and above all else, more potent with the puck on his stick. He ranks in the OHL’s top 20 with 15 goals (11th) and 30 points (17th).

Florentino was one of the surprises at the NJEC with smooth execution and capable hitting game. He was considered a dark horse to make the camp list, but could have been a good option for the American coaching staff as a two-way defensive spark. The Providence College sophomore has collected four assists in 12 games this season.
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