Every year the IIHF World Junior Championship gives us a glimpse at tomorrow’s superstars and Olympians, many of whom are proud to wear the red Maple Leaf on the front of their jerseys.

When Team Canada steps onto the ice on Boxing Day (following the *RBC Road to the World Juniors pre-tournament that kicks off on Friday), we will we be looking at the future of Canadian hockey, as well as the future of the NHL.

If you need convincing that the World Juniors represent what’s to come in the NHL, here are some stats from Hockey Canada that you need to know:

  • There were 396 players on this year’s opening day NHL rosters who had taken part in at least one World Junior Championship.
  • Every team in the NHL started this season with at least two Canadians on their roster who had played in a World Juniors.
  • Only three NHL teams are without a Canadian gold medallist from the World Juniors. Can you name them? Answer at the bottom of this article.

Team Canada has a long history of fielding teams that are powered by top-level goal scorers and playmakers. However, recently their formula for success seems to be off.

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Members of the 2010 team reflect after losing the gold medal game to the USA in overtime (Photo: CP)

Can we forget our recent misfortunes?

At the past two World Juniors tournaments, Team Canada has failed to win a medal of any colour. Since their last gold in 2009 (which was their fifth gold in a row), Canada has only managed to take home silver in 2010 and 2011 as well as bronze in 2012.

This year’s squad will be trying to snap the streak of 5 straight tournaments without a gold medal. Unfortunately, they will be forced to do so without the help of several big name World Juniors-eligible NHLers, including Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin, Aaron Ekblad, Sean Monahan, and Bo Horvat.

However, the team will include Ottawa Senator and 2014 alumnus Curtis Lazar, who is being loaned to the national junior team and could also feature NHLers Anthony Duclair and Sam Reinhart. There is a chance that seven players from last year’s team will return to be a part of the 2015 squad as well: Zachary Fucale, Frédérik Gauthier, Lazar, Connor McDavid, Josh Morrissey, Nic Petan and Reinhart.

16 year-old Connor McDavid celebrates a goal during the 2014 World Junior Championship (Photo: CP)

16 year-old Connor McDavid celebrates a goal during the 2014 World Junior Championship (Photo: CP)

One of the most talented players on the team, and also one of the youngest, is 17 year-old Connor McDavid, who is likely going to be this year’s first overall selection in the NHL entry draft. He and Lawson Crouse are the only players on the team who have yet to be drafted.

Prior to being a part of last year’s World Juniors squad, which finished fourth, McDavid led the 2013 under-18 team to gold in Sochi as a 16 year-old. He was the top scorer at the U-18 Championship, finishing with 14 points (8G, 6A) in only seven games played. McDavid was named the tournament’s MVP as well as the top forward.

If McDavid and his compatriots this year are looking for a team from the past to emulate, then they should watch as much game film of the 2005 team as they can. The ’05 squad is widely considered the best Team Canada, and possibly the best team ever, at a World Junior Tournament.

The “All-Star” Team of 2005

Back in 2005, the world watched in amazement as an impressive batch of Canadian stars stole the show. Thanks to the NHL lockout, several players who should have been playing professionally were able to join the national U-20 team for the World Juniors (see below for full roster).

Team members sing O' Canada after winning gold at the 2005 World Juniors (Photo: CP)

Team members sing O’ Canada after winning gold at the 2005 World Juniors (Photo: CP)

The biggest star of them all was a kid named Sidney Crosby, who was only 17 years-old and had yet to be drafted 1st overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Other notables included team captain Mike Richards, leading goal-scorer Jeff Carter, and leading scorer and tournament MVP Patrice Bergeron. When he joined the team, Bergeron had already played a full NHL season and helped Team Canada win gold at the 2004 World Championship.

Barring another lockout, will we ever see another under-20 team with such talented players? Let us know what you think on Twitter or Facebook.

Coming off a heart-breaking loss in the gold medal game in 2004, the team had a lot to prove, and prove they did. They outscored their opponents 41-7 during their six games, including a 6-1 pounding of Alexander Ovechkin and the Russians in the final en route to capturing the gold medal. Their win kicked off a streak of 5 straight World Juniors where Canada took home the top prize.

The 2005 team was as deep as any team that Canada, and possibly anyone, has ever sent to the World Juniors. Here is a look at some interesting facts as well as the full team roster:

Signs of a super team

2005 Team Roster

Forwards: Patrice Bergeron, Jeff Carter, Jeremy Colliton, Sidney Crosby, Nigel Dawes, Stephen Dixon, Colin Fraser, Ryan Getzlaf, Andrew Ladd, Clarke MacArthur, Corey Perry, Mike Richards, Anthony Stewart
Defensemen: Cam Barker, Shawn Belle, Braydon Cobourn, Dion Phaneuf, Brent Seabrook, Danny Syvret, Shea Weber
Goalies: Jeff Glass, Réjean Beauchemin
Head Coach: Brent Sutter

Hopefully this year’s squad can take some notes from 2005 and kick off another 5-year reign. GO TEAM CANADA!

To answer the trivia question above, the only three teams in the NHL without a Canadian gold medallist for the World Juniors are the Carolina Hurricanes, Minnesota Wild and New Jersey Devils.

*Leading up to the RBC Road to the World Juniors, RBC delivered Learn to Skate programs in each of the eight host communities.  Children from these RBC Learn to Skate programs will have the chance to go out on the ice during the RBC Road to the World Juniors games to demonstrate their newly-learned skating skills.