Canada cuts a pair of promising prospects

Updated: December 17, 2010, 5:10 PM ET
By Gare Joyce

Barring unforeseen events, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will be one of the first five picks and likely one of the first three in the 2011 draft. But he went away from the Canadian U-20 team's tryouts disappointed, cut in the final round.

RN-H wasn't the only one '93-birthday draft-eligible kid at the camp who was sent packing -- Kitchener's Ryan Murphy was sent home, but Murphy always seemed like a longshot to make the team. The conventional wisdom in the Hockey Canada braintrust: Murphy is too young, too small to compete with the best 19-year-olds, and too much of an offensive freelancer to contribute to the U-20 squad.

Those are something like the knocks on RN-H, but scouts thought he would have a decent shot at making the squad as the 13th forward -- an occasional injection of offensive creativity for a team that looks like it will struggle to score. And, in fact, having Murphy around for spot duty would make sense in the same way -- he wouldn't be your first choice to be on the ice defending a one-goal lead but you'd want him ahead of a few Ds who made the cut if you were down a goal.

Scouts are all about self-interest and they would have liked to see RN-H, Murphy and Sean Couturier playing in Buffalo. As it stands they'll only see Couturier, a late '92 birthday. We'll leave Couturier's evaluations for tournament time in Buffalo and just go with what the critics said about the two sent back to their junior clubs.