With less than a week to go before the Fort McMurray Oil Barons leave for Russia to play in the inaugural World Junior Club Cup, the MOB have released their official 25-man roster. The roster was expected to come Wednesday, but with the team basically set on Monday, the early release comes as no surprise.
In addition to the four returning defensemen, the MOB will take a look four rookie blueliners on their trip to Russia: Wil Tomchuk, Leighton McLachlan, Mike Green and Nicholas Tupper.
“You only play six guys and four of them are veterans. We’re carrying eight right now only because we’ve still got some decisions to make,” said head coach and general manager Gord Thibodeau.
“We certainly aren’t going to carry eight guys during the season, and we can’t carry 25 for the season, so this is our roster for Russia, but you’re going to see the roster dwindle by two or three players by the time we get back.”
At five-foot-eight, Mike Green is easily the smallest of the rookie blueliners, with the next smallest being six-foot-two. However, Thibodeau said Green’s size won’t hold him back.
“Brock Maschmeyer is undersized and he’s the best defenseman in the league, so Mike Green is fine. He’s a very strong kid for his size, very smart, and he’s quick so he doesn’t put himself in a position where size is going to be an issue.”
With 10 returning forwards, there isn’t necessarily a lot of room for the four rookies to get a chance on a scoring line up front.
“There’s absolutely no chance,” said Thibodeau. “We have a 10 guys back so there won’t be a rookie in the top six this year, for sure.”
Thibodeau said the coaching staff will be considering all factors when deciding who makes the final 23.
Centre Carson Cooper will serve as captain, which was announced at the beginning of camp, while veteran defensemen Drew McLaughlin and Brock Maschmeyer will serve as alternate captains.
The Oil Barons acquired some help between the pipes Monday, bringing in 20-year old Brody Hoffman from the Nipawin Hawks of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey league for future considerations.
“We were having a bit of trouble with our rookies who were struggling, and they just happened to be in a situation where we could get a guy we wanted. So it just made sense,” said Thibodeau.
“He’s a big goalie, and we like what he brings to the team.”
Thibodeau said barring any major complications, Hoffman will be making the trip to Russia with the MOB. The six-foot-three Hoffman had 13 of the 17 wins for the last-placed Hawks last season, with one shutout and a .888 save percentage.
Trevor Howlett – Today staff