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Maple Leafs’ Fraser Minten, Easton Cowan standout in Canada’s pretournament win against Switzerland

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Photo credit:Steven Ellis/Daily Faceoff
Steven Ellis
2 months ago
Canada has improved to 2-0 in World Junior Championship pretournament play on Friday, beating Switzerland 6-3 in Sweden.
Most notably, Canada lost top 2024 NHL Draft prospect Macklin Celebrini, who was ejected due to a hit from behind on Swiss forward Leo Braillard midway through the second period. A few minutes before that, defenseman Tanner Molendyk left the game with an upper-body injury, leaving his status for the rest of the tournament in doubt.
But you’re here for Toronto Maple Leafs news – and Celebrini’s status should interest you.
Fraser Minten, who was one of Canada’s best players against Denmark’s U-25 team on Tuesday, lined up on the second line alongside Celebrini and Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Dumais. Minten scored the fifth Canadian goal, taking Celebrini’s slick feed to make it 5-2 at the time.
With Dumais – one of the CHL’s most lethal offensive weapons – as the third forward on the line, this is a group that looked dangerous from the hop. Celebrini was the standout as expected, but Minten battled hard and found himself in scoring areas often. I was especially intrigued with how well he attacked defenders to force turnovers, a strength of the Canadian team, specifically in the second half.
Minten finished the game with three shots and a 50 percent faceoff rate after taking over for Celebrini once he was ejected. Easton Cowan, meanwhile, had a quieter game. He also had three shots, but his line with Matthew Wood and Brayden Yager was quieter than Minten’s, as expected. They played a bit more in the third period with the score out of reach, but their main goal was to bring energy and two-way play, and I felt it was mission accomplished.
Cowan’s biggest value here is how he kills penalties. He blocked shots, forced opponents to the outside and never stopped moving. I think it’s fair to say he’s the team’s most important penalty killer, which is one of the key reasons they brought him over, anyway after a quiet camp.
Canada will play the United States in the final pretournament game on Saturday at 12:00 PM ET. It’ll be interesting to see if Canada moves ahead without Celebrini, who is likely to hear from the IIHF’s disciplinary committee for boarding. Minten is a natural center, but was deployed on the wing today.
So that gives Canada some extra flexibility, but it’s hard to say what will happen with Celebrini now. But it’s good that coach Alan Letang kept them together after thriving in the first game, because that’s a ton of skill that can overpower just about any line in Group A.
The games will start to count on Dec. 26, with Canada kicking off play against Finland. The Canadians are favorites to challenge for a medal once again, and both of Toronto’s prospects are expected to play important roles for the team. Buckle up.
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