Though it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, Kirby Dach was officially named team captain today for Canada at the World Junior Championship. The Chicago Blackhawks forward has a full NHL season under his belt and is expected to be one of the most effective players in the entire tournament. He’ll be joined in the leadership group by Dylan Cozens and Bowen Byram, who have both been named alternate captains for the event.
The captaincy is often given to a returning player, but Dach actually didn’t get to play for Canada last year because he was too busy with the Blackhawks. The 19-year-old forward was picked third overall in 2019 and stepped nearly directly into the NHL, scoring 23 points in 64 games with Chicago. His play in the postseason bubble was even more impressive when he was one of the most dangerous players on the ice for the Blackhawks and recorded six points in nine games.
Cozens meanwhile returns to the WJC after dominating a year ago, scoring nine points in seven games for Canada to help them win the gold medal. The Buffalo Sabres prospect trailed only Alexis Lafreniere and then-captain Barrett Hayton in scoring for the team and should be another top player for Canada this year. An absolute freight train when he gets up to full speed, Cozens’ size, skating ability, and reach make him an incredibly difficult player to contain.
Byram will wear an “A” and likely anchor the top pairing for Canada after playing a lesser role last year at the tournament. The fourth-overall pick from 2019 has almost limitless upside at the offensive end and should be a big part of Canada’s quick transition game. Another excellent young defenseman in the Colorado Avalanche system, this WJC could certainly be his coming out party in front of the rest of the hockey world.