Another injury means another replacement for Team Canada’s World Cup squad, this one coming less than one week before the tournament is slated to begin.
It was announced Tuesday evening that Tyler Seguin, 24, will have to miss the tournament with a lower-body injury. Initial reports were that Seguin’s injury could be to his knee after he went into the boards hard during an exhibition against Team USA, but the Dallas Morning News’ Mike Heika reported that Seguin is actually battling something other than a knee injury.
Seguin, who had registered an assist through two pre-tournament games, said he was disappointed to have to miss the World Cup, but was glad the injury would heal in time for him to be prepared for the 2016-17 campaign with the Dallas Stars.
"Any time your country calls, it's a great honor and is something every kid from Canada dreams about getting the chance to do,” Seguin said. “While I'm upset that I don't get the opportunity to play, I understand the situation Team Canada is in with a short tournament."
In Seguin’s place will be 25-year-old Ryan O’Reilly. While the Buffalo Sabres center isn’t exactly a one-for-one swap when it comes to goal-scoring ability, there are few two-way pivots in the league better than O’Reilly and he brings a different element to the team.
"It's never easy to lose a player to injury, let alone one of Tyler's caliber, but once again, it speaks to the depth of talent in the country to be able to add Ryan O'Reilly to our team," Team Canada GM Doug Armstrong said. "Ryan just won gold at Worlds alongside a number of our players in that dressing room, so we're expecting him to be able to gel quickly as we wrap up our pre-tournament against Russia.”
Some will lament the fact that another standout scorer wasn’t picked in Seguin’s place, especially as players such as Taylor Hall, Mark Stone and Wayne Simmonds watch the tournament from home, but O’Reilly’s offensive ability is underrated. This past season, O’Reilly notched 21 goals and 60 points in 71 games with the Sabres, and only 15 Canadian-born players have racked up more points in the past three seasons than O’Reilly.
Selecting O’Reilly means the Canadian roster can be shuffled around, and there’s a good chance O’Reilly can come in and slot into the fourth-line for Canada. It’s not a role he’ll be used to — no forward averaged more ice time than O’Reilly’s 21:44 per game with the Sabres this past season — but it’s a spot he can certainly be useful in.
If anything, the move only serves to strengthen Canada’s ability on the penalty kill while offering some punch in the bottom-six. There is no perfect replacement for a scorer as skilled as Seguin, but O’Reilly is a more than suitable addition to the Canadian club.
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