Canada’s World Junior Championship team was unveiled on Saturday afternoon and among the names on the list were three Toronto Maple Leaf draftees. Making the cut were defensemen Jay Harrison of the Brampton Battalion, as well as Erie Otter teammates Carlo Colaiacovo and Brad Boyes, the former a blueliner, the latter a pivot. Each is obviously happy to be a part of this long time holiday tradition but each also has something to prove at this tournament.
Brad Boyes is one of the returning forwards from last years’s bronze medal team but while one can count the experience card in his favour, whether or not it was a good or bad one, is up for debate. By the end of the tournament his icetime was being slashed as he was generally ineffective up front. It is not the Brad Boyes many had come to know in the CHL and he arrived in training camp a bit lighter and a step faster. The Otter pivot is an important prospect for the Buds. He is the first pick of the Quinn regime (Nick Beverly is Mike Smith’s man) and a lot of reputations are riding on how well he turns out. As far as Boyes is concerned, if he can put a recent bout of mononucleosis behind him and impress overseas, he has a chance to place himself squarely in position to leapfrog several other highly touted prospects in the Leafs system come September.
Like Boyes, Jay Harrison is no stranger to spending Christmas overseas having done the same thing last year in Moscow. He’s one of five returnees on the blueline but he’ll be the only one playing tour guide for the new guy (see below) at least from what has been determined in early scrimmages. The book on Harrison going into the draft was that he was a stay-at-home masher in the D.J Smith mold if you were a pessimist or in the Jason Smith mold if you were an optimist. There have been those close to the player that have been insisting that the book has been wrong or that at the very least Harrison is a lot closer to Jason Smith than D.J. Smith. With a year of WJCs under his belt, there is no time like the present to show folks what they may have missed on draft day.
Unlike the first two of this group Colaiacovo is going to be one of the new guys on the plane. He comes with a resume that says he can do a bit of everything, but truth be told, he was a late riser on a lot of draft boards last season. So far he’s having a great start to 2001-2002 with 9 goals and 13 assists, but now comes the challenge of taking on the world’s best in a foreign country over the holidays. That’s no small piece of cake for an 18-year-old. As the one defender in the top six who hasn’t been there before, more than a few wary eyes will be cast his way and more than a few opposing coaches will try to take advantage of that fact.