Spengler Cup offers Canada last chance to look at potential Olympic hopefuls

Spengler Cup offers Canada last chance to look at potential Olympic hopefuls

With a good part of its Olympic roster already set, hockey players looking for a spot Team Canada will get one final chance to prove themselves at the Spengler Cup.

Canada, a two-time defending champion at the annual event in Davos, Switzerland, open the tournament on Tuesday against Czech-side Mountfield HK.

“We’ve had five events up until now, we’ve used a lot of European guys numerous times, we’ve got a real good handle on that level, but we wanted to see how the other levels would compare and this tournament affords us the opportunity to do that,” Canadian general manager Sean Burke said in a phone interview.

The Canadians will have a different look to their roster than when they suited up earlier this month at the Channel One Cup in Russia. With Kontinental Hockey League players unavailable for selection, the Spengler Cup roster consists mostly of Swiss players with an assortment of American Hockey League and NCAA players as well.

Burke says it’s a nice opportunity to evaluate this crop of players and that Canada’s performance at the Channel One Cup — where it lost two of three games — didn’t have an impact on the Spengler Cup roster decisions.

“Actually, the final game against the Russians was probably the best evaluation game we’ve had and, if anything, I think that tournament was a real positive for us,” Burke said. ”Even losing the two games I think we learned a lot of good things about our team and some of our players.

“And of course those games, they eliminate some players as well, unfortunately. That type of game, the Czechs, the Russians, they really made it clear to us that there’s a number of guys that can play and we’ve got a good handle on them, but there’s also some guys that it was just a little too much for.”

Returning players on Canada’s Spengler Cup roster include Andrew Ebbett, Maxim Noreau, David McIntyre, Mason Raymond and Nick Spaling. Chris Kelly, who played last season with the Ottawa Senators, along with Jeff Schultz, Cody Goloubef and Christian Thomas are all Canadians on the roster that have played in the AHL this year.

Thomas is the son of longtime NHLer Steve Thomas and is getting his second look at the Canadian roster after scoring once in three games at the Karjala Cup in Helsinki in November.

“I knew that coming into the year that there might be a chance and I got my first look at the Karjarla and I was really excited to play and it was a great tournament,” Thomas said. “And now I get another chance here to show them what I can do and hopefully earn a spot on the roster, which would be a dream come true.”

Burke said that Thomas is a player “that’s knocking on the door for a job,” but that he’s also looking to add a shutdown defenceman.

“I think all four of these guys will give us a real good handle on what the level in the AHL is for us compared to when we play the Swiss national team,” Burke said. ”That’s a team that’s in our pool in the Olympics. That will give us a real good handle on where these guys fit in.”

Canada will start to finalize its roster shortly after the Spengler Cup and plans to have an Olympic announcement around Jan. 11 before the February Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Burke cautions that he and his staff will still be watching games, including the world junior championship, after this tournament and that junior players are still in the mix to be evaluated.

The Canadians face HC Davos in their second game on either Wednesday or Thursday — depending on the result from their first game — with the semifinals set for Saturday and the final on Sunday.

Burke said that the other squads at the six-team tournament have an advantage because they’re club teams and play together all year.

“Last year, we learned our lesson after Game 1. We took a pretty good spanking and the guys bounced back,” Burke said. ”But you do have to expect that these guys not only play together but they get up for Canada. There’s no easy games no matter who you’re playing and I think our guys know that.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta had 1,571 active COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta’s central zone now has 1,101 active COVID-19 cases

Provincial death toll has risen by nine

Dustin Mitchell (Coats) is wanted by police in relation to a homicide this past Wednesday. (Photo contributed by Red Deer RCMP)
Red Deer RCMP looking for man in relation to homicide

An arrest warrant has been issued for a Red Deer man in… Continue reading

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta reports 1,731 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday

The province’s central zone has 992 active cases

Collin Orthner, manager at McBain Camera in downtown Red Deer, stands behind the store’s counter on Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
A few Red Deer businesses happy with Black Friday results

While this year’s Black Friday wasn’t as successful as it was in… Continue reading

Le Chateau Inc. is the latest Canadian firm to start producing personal protective equipment for health care workers, in a July 3, 2020 story. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Hundreds of millions of dollars for frontline workers yet to be released, says Alberta Federation of Labour

Information recently released by the Alberta Federation of Labour suggests more than… Continue reading

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre speaks during a news conference Monday, Nov. 16, 2020 in Ottawa. Poilievre says building up the Canadian economy post-pandemic can't be achieved without a massive overhaul of the tax system and regulatory regime. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Conservatives attack Trudeau’s ‘reset’ but they have ideas for their own

‘We don’t need subsidized corporate welfare schemes that rely on endless bailouts from the taxpayer’

In this undated photo issued by the University of Oxford, a volunteer is administered the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday Nov. 23, 2020, that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
Moderna chairman says Canada near head of line for 20 million vaccine doses

Trudeau created a firestorm when he said Canadians will have to wait a bit to get vaccinated

There were 47 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta Tuesday. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
Spread of COVID-19 in Brampton, Ont., linked to systemic factors, experts say

‘We’re tired. We’re numb. We’re overworked. We’re frustrated, because it’s not our rules’

The courthouse in Iqaluit is shown on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. Three Nunavut judges, including the chief justice, are at odds over whether prison conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic should be considered when sentencing offenders in the territory. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Emma Tranter
Nunavut judges disagree on how to sentence offenders during pandemic

IQALUIT — Three Nunavut judges, including the territory’s chief justice, are at… Continue reading

A corrections officer opens the door to a cell in the segregation unit at the federal Fraser Valley Institution for Women during a media tour, in Abbotsford, B.C., Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017. Independent reviews of the hundreds of inmates placed in segregation over the past year found only a handful were inappropriate, new government data indicate. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Few federal inmates moved from solitary after external reviews, new data show

‘There can be rare cases where the removal may not be immediate’

A couple embrace during a ceremony to mark the end of a makeshift memorial for victims of the Toronto van attack, at Yonge St. and Finch Ave. in Toronto on Sunday, June 3, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
‘I’ve been spared a lot,’ van attack survivor says as she watches trial alone

Court has set up a private room for victims and families of those killed in the Toronto van attack

Banff National Park. (The Canadian Press)
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

EDMONTON — A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths on railway tracks… Continue reading

Cows on pasture at the University of Vermont dairy farm eat hay Thursday, July 23, 2020, in Burlington, Vt. Canadian dairy farmers are demanding compensation from the government because of losses to their industry they say have been caused by a series of international trade deals. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Lisa Rathke
Feds unveil more funding for dairy, poultry and egg farmers hurt by free trade deals

OTTAWA — Canadian egg and poultry farmers who’ve lost domestic market share… Continue reading

Most Read