Photo credit:(Photo from Steven Ellis/Daily Faceoff)
Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Fraser Minten is no stranger to pressure heading into world juniors
By Steven Ellis2 months ago
When Fraser Minten ended up in Oakville, Ontario for Canada’s world junior selection camp, he found himself rooming with a familiar face: Easton Cowan.
The two Toronto Maple Leafs prospects stayed together during training camp, with the team clearly putting a focus on getting two of its top young players familiar with each other. Both had good camps, with Minten sticking in the NHL for four games before eventually getting sent back to junior.
A little bit of comfort in a pressure-packed situation doesn’t hurt.
“(Cowan’s) a good kid. I love rooming with him,” Minten said, adding he isn’t sure if he or Cowan snore more. “Getting to see him here is really exciting. It’s pretty cool that it worked out that we’re sharing a room again.”
Both players ended up making Canada’s world junior team as the Leafs’ only contingent in Sweden. Cowan will likely hold a bottom-six job throughout the event, focusing on his energy and stout penalty killing.
But Minten? He skated on Canada’s second line during pretournament play, skating alongside top 2024 NHL Draft prospect Macklin Celebrini and QMJHL scoring star Jordan Dumais. The three make up one of the most dangerous lines in the tournament, giving Canada a nice 1-2 punch with Conor Geekie, Matthew Poitras and Matt Savoie making up the the top line.
Minten’s ability as a dual-threat center/winger gives Canada some options. He can win faceoffs, kill penalties, play a shutdown role and generating scoring chances hasn’t been an issue with him in Saskatoon since getting traded by Kamloops. Very few players on this Canadian team bring a game as well-rounded as Minten’s.
“Fraser’s such an intellectual player. He’s cerebral, right?” Canadian GM Peter Anholt said. “He knows the game. He picks up things quickly. He brings his size. He brings a good shot. He can play different positions, he can play up and down the lineup in different ways.”
While this is Minten’s first time playing with Canada internationally, he’s no stranger to pressure-packed hockey. Minten is one of five players on this team to have NHL experience, and he also was part of the Blazers’ Memorial Cup run last year. Even though Kamloops came up short, it was an important experience for Minten.
“I think the Memorial Cup felt almost more pressure than playing in the NHL,” he said. “That was probably the highest-stakes hockey I’ve ever played. It was great to get that opportunity.
“It kind of alleviates the pressure at a camp like his, when you come in and you feel comfortable in bigger moments where you have to perform… when you’ve been through those high-stakes events before.”
And there’s very little pressure like Team Canada world junior pressure. The Canadians have won consecutive golds, but will be in tough company this year with USA and Sweden being among the favorites. But even if just for a handful of games, no WJC team has as much NHL experience as Canada, which says something about the quality of their roster.
That’s especially true for Minten, someone nobody saw performing as well as he has this year. If you told anyone who watched the Memorial Cup closely that Minten would have played NHL games by now and was ready to play a top six role with Canada, they would have taken you up on the bet with a good chuckle.
But look who’s laughing now.
Canada will rely on Minten heavily to be a two-force. He’s not the most gifted player offensively, but he makes up for that in the way he thinks the game. And if early signs have shown us anything, he likes the bigger ice.
BRING ON THE TEAM SPIRIT! Unleash your inner MVP with the game-changing Varsity Collection from Nation Gear! Embrace the winning spirit by repping your fave team with pride! Shop the Varsity Collection and more at nationgear.ca
Recent articles from Steven Ellis