Team Canada announced its final roster for the 2021 World Juniors earlier today, naming both centre Ryan Suzuki and defenseman Jordan Spence to the team as they defend their gold medal from last year.
Suzuki has been on the national team radar since being drafted first overall in the OHL in 2017, previously representing Team Canada at the U17 and U18 levels. A top playmaker with great vision and patience, he was drafted in the first round 28th overall by the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2019 draft and is the younger brother of Montreal Canadiens centre Nick Suzuki.
The younger Suzuki’s selection to the national team is another step in a long recovery from an errant high stick during a game last November which left him with a permanent blind spot in one eye.
“I have good peripheral vision still and that’s almost what I need anyways to make plays. I’m always a player that’s aware of everything that’s going on around me so I think having the injury, I had to have my head up more and it almost made me a little bit more assertive because I always wanted to know what was going on.”Ryan Suzuki to The Athletic (2020)
The reigning QMJHL defenseman of the year, Jordan Spence is one of just two players on Team Canada’s roster picked outside of the first round of the NHL draft – he was selected in the fourth round 95th overall by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2019 draft. An apt powerplay quarterback, Spence has also demonstrated good skating, vision, and poise when breaking out the puck from his own end.
Suzuki is a fourth-generation Japanese-Canadian and Spence a first-generation Japanese-Canadian born in Australia who first started playing hockey in Japan.
The availability of Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nick Robertson, a member of Team USA at last year’s World Juniors where he scored 2 goals and posted 5 points in 5 games, depends on the timing of the NHL’s training camps although he would undoubtbly provide a significant boost yet again to the American team.