With the NHL offseason slowing down to a grinding halt and leagues around North America trying to plan for a start sometime next year, it appears that the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championships will be the next live hockey we can legally watch. And it’s getting even closer than imagined.
On Thursday, Hockey Canada announced the list of 42 players that have been invited to this year’s selection camp for the upcoming U20 tournament. Among those teenagers are three Minnesota Wild prospects that will no doubt grab our attention in defensemen Ryan O’Rourke, Daemon Hunt and forward Adam Beckman.
O’Rourke, 18, was one of the Wild’s second-round selections in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft earlier this month. The 6-foot-2 defender carries a mean streak that will no doubt earn some peak attention during the selection camp. The Pickering, Ont. native has represented his country once before at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge during his 2018-19 season. As the captain of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL last season, he was able to score seven goals and 37 points through 54 games.
The other defensemen heading to Red Deer, Alta. for the selection camp is 18-year-old Daemon Hunt. A third-round pick in the 2020 draft, Hunt is similar to O’Rourke in that he is a left-handed defender that can use his physicality to gain possession, but has less of the offensive touch that the Greyhounds skater has. Earning 15 assists over 28 games last season for the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL, Hunt battled through injuries on one of the worst teams in his league.
Both defensemen will ultimately have a hard time making the correct impression to earn a spot on the final roster, but there are always a need for a physical bottom pairing throughout this tournament. With other young Canadian defenders like Dallas Stars’ Thomas Harley and Colorado Avalanche’s Bowen Byram in the mix, the two Wild prospects will have their work cut out for them.
One player that certainly can earn his way to Edmonton on Dec. 25 for the tournament is forward Adam Beckman. The 19-year-old has age on his side and holds the high reputation of a key offensive threat after leading the WHL in scoring last season with 48 goals and 107 points through 63 games for the Spokane Chiefs.
The 2019 third-round pick has never played for Team Canada at any tournament, so this is a new opportunity for the Saskatoon, Sask. native to further his overall career. He might just be the one player that gets us even more excited for the group of forwards that the Wild are steadily building for the future.
The 2021 World Juniors will take place in Edmonton, Alta. in a bubble, similar to the NHL playoffs, starting on Dec. 25, with the final taking place on Jan. 5. The 42 players will head to Red Deer, Alta. and be placed in a 48-hour quarantine after an initial test for COVID-19 when the arrive.