The World Junior Hockey Championship is arguably some of, if not the best, hockey we see every year, and this year the Toronto Maple Leafs will be looking to have two prospects on Team Canaada.
Current Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Topi Niemela was named best the best defenseman of the tournament a couple of years ago, but it has been a while since the Leafs had a standout prospect suit up for Team Canada.
The yearly tradition is once again back this year, with the 2024 edition start in a few weeks on Boxing Day.
Earlier this week, Hockey Canada revealed their list of players invited to Team Canada’s selection camp, and two Toronto Maple Leafs prospects got an invitation.
Both Easton Cowan and Fraser Minten (the latter of whom spent some time with the Toronto Maple Leafs this season) have a strong shot of making the team and representing their country come December 26th.
2 Toronto Maple Leafs Prospects Look to Make Team Canada
Both of Cowan and Minten have had strong starts to their years in the CHL, with Cowan being top-10 in OHL scoring.
As a member of the London Knights, Easton Cowan was selected 28th overall by the Leafs in last year’s draft, which caught many by surprise. However, Cowan has changed the minds of many to start this season.
Not only has he had a strong season with the aforementioned Knights, but he also impressed in the pre-season with the Leafs. I also happened to witness Cowan live in person when the Knights took on the Brantford Bulldogs early in the OHL season.
Cowan scored 4 points, including a shorthanded beauty in a 5-1 victory.
It’s safe to say he impressed everyone in the building.
However, I am still undecided if Cowan will make Canada’s World Junior team this year. Not only is he 18 (Hockey Canada tends to take mostly 19 year olds) but Cowan is also known for his offensively ability, and Canada’s top-6 looks to be mostly set at this point.
Players such as Matthew Savoie and phenom Macklin Celebrini will likely make up the top-6, leaving little to no room for Cowan. While it is not impossible for Cowan to make this team, and he could easily earn a spot, I think he’ll likely have to wait until 2025 to make Team Canada.
Minten on the other hand, looks like a lock for this team.
Fraser Minten played well in his first 4 NHL games this year for the Leafs, and while there’s still lots to work on, he showed plenty of promise as a 19-year-old rookie. He’s also strong on draws, has good size, can skate well, and can play on the penalty kill, making him a strong candidate for Canada’s bottom-six.
Minten can score no problem, but as mentioned before, Canada has plenty of scoring talent on this roster, and Minten will likely be a third-line player for this team.
I’d say Minten has a 95% chance to make this team, with Cowan looking at around a 40% chance to make it.
Regardless, I hope they both make it, and I know they both will be great assets to a Canadian team looking to win their 3rd-straight WJC Gold Medal.
Canada’s quest for the three-peat begins on December 26th vs Team Finland.