Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
How likely is it that Fraser Minten and Easton Cowan make Team Canada?
2 months ago
The most wonderful time of the year is nearing.
In a little over a month, the 2024 World Junior Championship will kick off in Gothenburg, Sweden. Team Canada will look to win their third consecutive gold medal for the first time since their five-straight gold medal streak ended at the 2011 World Junior Championship.
If you’re like me, the World Junior Championship is synonymous with the Christmas Holidays. There are the absolute highs, such as watching Jordan Eberle score huge goals in the dying moments in two straight tournaments. Or when current Leaf John Tavares led a Canadian comeback against the United States on New Years Eve.
There were also the lows, such as when Canada was down 6-1 in the 2012 semifinal game, making it a 6-5 game but failing to score the tying goal. Heck, I even remember where I was sitting when John Carlson scored the game-winning goal in overtime to break Canada’s streak of winning five straight gold medals.
This is to say, the WJC was incredibly influential in my childhood and continues to be prevalent in my life as a sportswriter. Long interlude aside, it does beg the question: Who will I be watching from the Leafs at the 2024 World Junior Championship.
Looking at eligible Leaf prospects:
In the past two drafts, the Leafs have had eight picks. Canada is arguably the most competitive team in the world, and it just so happens that six of those eight picks are from Canada. Furthermore, Dennis Hildeby, who was selected in the fourth round of the 2022 draft, is already 22 years old, so he can’t participate.
The other non-Canadian is fifth-round selection Nikita Grebenkin. But due to geopolitics that far exceed the scope of this article, Russia will not be involved in the WJC for the third straight season.
Toronto only has two players that could realistically contend, 2022 second-round selection Fraser Minten, and 2023 first-round selection Easton Cowan. Let’s profile both these players.
Fraser Minten’s 2023-24:
The 19-year-old centre plays for the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League. After spending four games with the Maple Leafs, where he had no points and two penalty minutes, Minten made his return to British Columbia.
He’s played seven games, scoring three goals and 10 points, along with four penalty minutes and is a -2. Minten is on pace to surpass his 2022-23 totals, where he picked up 31 goals and 67 points in 57 games. That season, he had a point per game average of 1.18, but has a point per game average of 1.43 in 2023-24.
Easton Cowan’s 2023-24:
The 18-year-old right-wing looks like a fantastic pick for the Leafs. So far with the prestigious London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, Cowan has eight goals and 27 points in just 16 games. He’s 11th in the league in points with the fifth-most assists in the OHL.
In 68 games with the Knights in 2022-23, Cowan scored 20 goals and 53 points for a 0.78 point per game pace. He broke out in that year’s playoffs which helped his draft position, as he scored nine goals and 21 points in 20 games to help the Knights reach the OHL final. So far in 2023-24, he’s on a fantastic pace of 1.69, and I’d expect his playoff numbers to be even better than last season.
So who makes the cut:
Looking at a recent The Athletic article by Scott Wheeler and Corey Pronman, we can see that both of the authors believe that Minten and Cowan will make Team Canada.
Wheeler has Minten playing on the third line with Pittsburgh’s Brayden Yager and Seattle’s Jagger Firkus. Meanwhile, Cowan is on the fourth line with Montreal’s Owen Beck and Philadelphia’s Denver Barkey. Pronman has both Minten and Cowan on the fourth line playing with Beck.
Both Minten and Cowan will likely make the team as they’re both skilled forwards with a scoring touch.
Within the next few weeks, the World Junior camp will start. Without question, both Cowan and Minten will be there. It’ll be up to them to showcase their skills to make the team, but I reckon they have a good chance of helping Canada push for its third straight gold medal.
If you enjoy my content, you can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D.
Unleash the Darkness with the Nation Gear Blackout Collection! Embrace the bold and gear up with ALL NEW STYLES of our exclusive line only available for a LIMITED TIME. Don’t miss out on grabbing your fav team’s gear in the baddest styles before they’re gone!
Recent articles from Brennan Delaney