Ryan Nugent-Hopkins named captain of Canadian World Juniors team

Just a day after the roster for Canada’s IIHF World Junior Championship team was set, Edmonton Oilers forward and former number one overall draft pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was named captain of the Canadian team.

This will be Nugent-Hopkins’ first time skating with the Canadian in the World Juniors Championships. He was cut from the squad as a 17-year-old in 2011 and wasn’t made available for the team last season by the Edmonton Oilers. However, he has some international experience under his belt after playing for the Canadian men’s team earlier this year where he recorded four goals and two assists in eight games en route to a fifth-place finish.

“I’ve got a couple of chances now to play international and every time I feel like it makes me a little bit of a better player because it is so different,” he said.

It appears that Nugent-Hopkins will look to take a lead-by-example approach to his captaincy, wanting to follow the example of Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff, who helped Nugent-Hopkins adapt to the NHL.

“People see what you do and they want to try to be like that,” he said. “The more respect you have, the better the leader you’re going to be.”

Nugent-Hopkins was scheduled to enter his second season in the NHL, which was delayed due to the ongoing lockout. As a rookie last season, he posted 18 goals and 34 points in 62 NHL games with the Oilers – tying with fellow rookie Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche. Both players were eventually nominated for the Calder Memorial Trophy, along with Adam Henrique of the New Jersey Devils. Landeskog ultimately beat out the competition and was named rookie of the year.

In the wake of the lockout, Nugent-Hopkins opted to join the Oklahoma City Barons, the top American Hockey League affiliate of the Oilers, joining teammates Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Magnus Paajarvi, and defenseman Justin Schultz – who signed with Edmonton as a free agent over the summer. Nugent-Hopkins is currently third on the team in scoring with eight goals and 12 assists in 19 games.

Scott Harrington of the OHL’s London Knights and Jonathan Huberdeau of the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs serving as alternate captains.

“Those players have played in Memorial Cups and obviously in a world junior championship already,” said head coach Steve Spott said. “All three of those guys are not only well-respected, but they’re well liked by their teammates.”

Nugent-Hopkins will likely center the top line with Huberdeau, a Florida Panthers prospect, on his left wing.

The remaining members of the Canadian roster include:
Forwards: Anthony Camara, Phillip Danault, Jonathan Drouin, Jonathan Hueberdeau, Charles Hudon, Boone Jenner, J.C. Lipon, Nathan MacKinnon, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Ty Rattie, Brett Ritchie, Mark Scheifele, Ryan Strome

Defense: Dougie Hamilton, Scott Harrington, Ryan Murphy, Xavier Ouellet, Griffin Reinhart, Morgan Rielly, Tyler Wotherspoon

Goalies: Jordan Binnington, Jake Patterson, Malcolm Subban

The Canadian team leaves for Europe today and will play in two pre-competition games in Helsinki prior to the start of the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships.

The team will engage in their first tournament game on Dec. 26 against Finland. The team has won a medal in 14 consecutive tournaments, last winning gold in 2009.

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