June 22, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Morgan Rielly puts on a jersey after being selected as the number five overall draft pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2012 NHL Draft at CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Maple Leafs Could Have Four Players At World Junior Hockey Championships

Hockey Canada announced earlier today the roster of players invited to the annual World Junior selection camp.  Among them are Toronto Maple Leaf first round draft pick Morgan Rielly.  Rielly is considered to be as close to a lock to make the team as you can get.  There are plenty of notable names on the list including Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jonathan Huberdeau and Dougie Hamilton (GULP).  With the injury to Columbus Blue Jackets first round pick, Ryan Murray, many media members believe that Hamilton and Rielly will be side by side on the top defense pairing for Canada.

The Maple Leafs will also be represented at the tournament by defensive prospect Tom Nilsson.  Nilsson will be expected to play tough minutes for team Sweden as they will be without their top blue liners Jonas Brodin and Oscar Klefbom.

Team USA announces their selection camp roster on Tuesday and both Tyler Biggs and Garret Sparks are expected to be included.  Biggs should not have a problem cracking the final roster and Sparks has a fair shot to make the team.  Depending on the health of incumbent goaltender John Gibson, he could even end up being the starter.  Sparks had an excellent month of November with a 1.94 GAA and a .940 save percentage playing for Guelph in the OHL.

With the void of NHL hockey this year there will be an intense focus on this edition of the IIHF U20 World Hockey Championships.  It would be nice for Maple Leafs fans to see a few of their prospects against top competition over the Christmas break.

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Tags: Garret Sparks Morgan Rielly World Junior Championships

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