Team Canada finalizes roster, Canadiens’ Juulsen, Coyotes’ Merkley among four cut

Team Canada has named its final roster for the 2016 World Junior Championship after making four final cuts. Among those cut were two 2015 first-round draft picks — defenseman Noah Juulsen (26th overall, Montreal) and center Nick Merkley (30th overall, Arizona).

Six days ahead of the start of the 2016 World Junior Championship Team Canada has made its final four cuts and finalized its roster as they begin the chase for a second straight gold medal.

After two pre-tournament wins — one convincing 7-1 victory over Belarus, the other a 1-0 win over the Czech Republic — Canada let go four players ahead of their third and final pre-tournament contest. The cuts included Montreal Canadiens 2015 first-round pick (26th overall) Noah Juulsen, Arizona Coyotes 2015 first-round pick (30th) Nick Merkley, Boston Bruins 2015 second-round pick (52nd) Jeremy Lauzon and Florida Panthers 2014 second-round pick (32nd) Jayce Hawryluk.

Each of Canada’s four returning players — Lawson Crouse, Joe Hicketts, Brayden Point and Jake Virtanen — made the final cut, as well as three goaltenders, including the suspended Mackenzie Blackwood. Late training camp addition Samuel Montembault also made the club, largely because Blackwood will be ineligible to play in either of the first two games of the tournament.

“Our goal is always to assemble the best possible team to represent Canada. We had a really good evaluation period in Toronto and Imatra, and were able to see how the players responded to different situations – from practices to games,” said vice-president of hockey operations and national teams for Hockey Canada Scott Salmond in a statement. “These are never easy decisions, but we feel confident in the team we have and their ability to make the nation proud and give us all something to get behind this holiday season.”

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The 2016 World Juniors will kick off Jan. 26 for Canada when they take on the rival American squad. After winning gold in Toronto in 2015, Canada will be defending their title in Helsinki. According to Hockey Canada, Team Canada hasn’t won a gold medal at the World Juniors on European ice since 2008.

Canada’s entire roster can be seen below, via Hockey Canada:

Goaltenders: Mackenzie Blackwood (Thunder Bay, Ont./Barrie, OHL), Mason McDonald (Halifax/Charlottetown, QMJHL), Samuel Montembeault (Bécancour, Que./Blainville-Boisbriand, QMJHL);

Defensemen: Thomas Chabot (Sainte-Marie-de-Beauce, Que./Saint John, QMJHL), Travis Dermott (Newmarket, Ont./Erie, OHL), Haydn Fleury (Carlyle, Sask./Red Deer, WHL), Brandon Hickey (Leduc, Alta./Boston University, HE), Roland McKeown (Listowel, Ont./Kingston, OHL), Travis Sanheim (Elkhorn, Man./Calgary, WHL), Joe Hicketts (Kamloops, B.C./Victoria, WHL)

Forwards: Mathew Barzal (Coquitlam, B.C./Seattle, WHL), Anthony Beauvillier (Sorel, Que./Shawinigan, QMJHL),Rourke Chartier (Saskatoon, Sask./Kelowna, WHL), Julien Gauthier (Pointe-aux-Trembles, Que./Val-d’Or, QMJHL),Travis Konecny (Clachan, Ont./Ottawa, OHL), Mitchell Marner (Thornhill, Ont./London, OHL),Brendan Perlini (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont./Niagara, OHL), John Quenneville (Edmonton/Brandon, WHL), Mitchell Stephens (Peterborough, Ont./Saginaw, OHL), Dylan Strome (Mississauga, Ont./Erie, OHL), Jake Virtanen (Abbotsford, B.C./Vancouver, NHL), Lawson Crouse (Mt. Brydges, Ont./Kingston, OHL), Brayden Point (Calgary, Atla./Moose Jaw (WHL).