With Alexis Lafreniere’s standing unsure, Canada goes to wish somebody to step into the highlight. Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Nolan Foote believes he might be that participant.Nolan Foote|Steven Ellis/The Hockey NewsOSTRAVA, Czech Republic – The important thing to a Canadian gold medal was all the time going to be about difference-makers. The squad is blessed with depth yearly, however some groups – like final 12 months’s entry – don’t get large particular person performances on the proper instances. Left winger and high 2020 NHL draft prospect Alexis Lafreniere has that ability written in his DNA, however sadly he’s banged up proper now with a knee harm and Canada can’t assume he’s going to be there within the subsequent couple days because the world junior playoff spherical begins.
One participant that might match that invoice? Nolan Foote. The Tampa Bay Lightning first-rounder had a booming objective for Canada early in what turned out to be a 7-2 romp over the host Czechs on New Yr’s Eve and his capability to attain will change into essential now that the video games can be tightening up.
“As a lot as I can, I need to step up large,” Foote, a proper winger, stated. “When that chance is there, you need to undoubtedly take it. We’re all connecting proper now.”
The son of retired star NHL defenseman Adam Foote and youthful brother of fellow Tampa Bay prospect Cal Foote, Nolan is the one ahead of the three, however having like-minded relations helped develop the appropriate winger’s most deadly ability – that cannon from the purpose.
“A lot of photographs within the yard,” Foote stated. “I all the time labored on it with Cal and my dad. Cal and I’d go one-timers to one another and it’s all the time been a factor I’ve liked engaged on. We had a rink arrange our final years dwelling in Denver earlier than shifting to Kelowna and it was good.”
Foote at the moment stars for the Kelowna Rockets within the WHL, the Memorial Cup hosts and a harmful aspect within the B.C. Division. Staff Canada goalie Joel Hofer performs within the WHL for Portland and fortunate for him, the Winterhawks play within the U.S. Division – minimizing the visits from Foote.
“I solely see him 4 instances a 12 months,” Hofer stated. “Which is nice.”
Certainly Foote no less than takes somewhat one thing off his shot when Canada is practising although, proper?
“No, no, in no way,” Hofer stated. “And I don’t need him to take it off. Going into the sport, not many individuals can shoot it like him. If I can cease his shot in apply, I believe I’ll be alright. However most instances he comes out on the upper finish.”
And in accordance with Foote’s WJC heart, it’s not simply concerning the launch itself.
“His shot is world-class, however the underrated factor is how he finds lanes and will get open,” stated Arizona Coyotes rookie Barrett Hayton. “And he will get it off fast.”
Offense wasn’t an issue towards the Czechs and it wasn’t a difficulty the sport earlier than towards Germany. And it might be straightforward to dismiss Slovakia as a cupcake opponent for the quarterfinal, as that aspect has little or no high-end ability or depth. However they play the video games for a motive and Slovakia does have a netminder who can steal video games in Samuel Hlavaj, who performs within the QMJHL for Sherbrooke.
So placing away Slovakia early beneath a blanket of objectives would make for a a lot much less nervous night time for Canada – you by no means need an underdog hanging round in a single-elimination recreation, in spite of everything. Foote can bury groups on an influence play and by chance for Canada, he’s not alone. Detroit Purple Wings prospect Joe Veleno received his first objective of this 12 months’s tourney within the recreation towards the Czechs, as did large Buffalo Sabres decide Dylan Cozens. And who is aware of? Perhaps Canada will get a medal-round miracle from Lafreniere.
So long as somebody is scoring, Canada can be ready to get one other crack at Russia within the semifinal, assuming the Russians can douse the Swiss of their quarterfinal matchup. Canada was dealt a humiliating 6-Zero loss within the spherical robin by Russia and whereas Hayton tried to play diplomat, Foote didn’t sidestep the tantalizing thought of a rematch.
“It could be superior to play them once more and get revenge,” he stated.
Canada will certainly want its weapons blazing in that potential semifinal showdown and Foote can be a high candidate to make it occur. However first, they should maintain Slovakia.
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Tags: world junior championshipConnect: In regards to the AuthorRyan KennedyRyan Kennedy is the affiliate senior author and draft/prospect professional at The Hockey Information. He has been with the publication since 2005 and in that span, Don Cherry, Lil Jon and The Rock have all referred to as his home. He lives in Toronto along with his spouse and youngsters the place he listens to loud music and collects NCAA pennants.