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Canada's all-time best world junior players: 5-1

Richard Wolowicz / Getty Images Sport / Getty

In the lead-up to the 2022 World Junior Championship, we're looking back at the 25 best players to wear the Canadian jersey at the tournament. Rather than evaluating entire careers, these rankings are based solely on performances during the world juniors. We have revealed five players each day, culminating here with the best of the best.

25-21 | 20-16 | 15-11 | 10-6 | 5-1

Honorable mention: Toews' epic shootout (2007)

Jonathan Toews may not have cracked the list after notching just nine points in 12 games while taking home two gold medals, but he did deliver one of the most memorable moments in Canadian world junior history in 2007.

With Canada facing the archrival United States with a crop of immensely talented players on both sides, the semifinal game went to a daunting shootout. The lengthy duel went seven rounds, and Toews came up clutch by scoring on all three of his attempts - including the game-winner. Those heroics created a memory that will last a lifetime for most Canadians.

5. Ryan Ellis (2009, 2010, 2011)

19 5 20

Ellis medaled in all three world junior tournaments he played in, collecting one gold (2009) and two silvers (2010, 2011). He's one of four players in Canadian world junior history to win three or more medals, and he did so while scoring at a ridiculous rate for a defenseman.

He was named Canada's captain in 2011 and was eventually named the best defender at the tournament. With 25 points across three events, he remains the highest-scoring blue-liner in world junior history.

4. John Tavares (2008, 2009)

13 12 8

Tavares helped lead Canada to its fourth and fifth consecutive gold medals, playing a major role in both triumphs. He produced four goals and an assist across seven games in 2008 before piling up eight markers and six helpers over six contests the next year. Tavares set up Jordan Eberle's dramatic tying goal in the 2009 semifinal and scored in the shootout to help Canada advance to the gold-medal game.

The dynamic center was named MVP and top forward at the 2009 tournament. Tavares is one of three players tied for second among Canadian skaters in all-time world junior goals and sits seventh on the country's all-time world junior points list.

3. Wayne Gretzky (1978)

Denis Brodeur / National Hockey League / Getty
6 8 9

Gretzky only appeared in the tournament once, but he put on an incredible show. He led the 1978 event with 17 points despite being the youngest player and still holds the record for most points in a world junior tournament for a 16-year-old.

Canada settled for a bronze medal that year, but Gretzky couldn't have done much more to help the team. He was named the tournament's best forward but never returned to the world juniors. Imagine what he could have accomplished if he played another year or two.

2. Eric Lindros (1990, 1991, 1992)

21 12 19

Lindros was one of the most highly touted prospects in NHL history, and his world junior performances did nothing but skyrocket his stock. "The Big E" won two gold medals, first cracking the Canadian roster as a 16-year-old in 1990 and registering four goals in seven games. Lindros recorded a combined 27 points in the following two events to become Canada's all-time leading world junior scorer.

1. Jordan Eberle (2009, 2010)

12 14 12

"Can you believe it!?"

That epic call by TSN's Gord Miller is arguably the most iconic moment in world junior history. With Canada trailing 5-4 against Russia in the 2009 semifinal, Eberle scored the game-tying goal with just five seconds left in regulation. After Tavares shoveled the puck toward the net, Eberle showed incredible poise in front, going to his backhand and elevating the puck rather than trying to jam it in.

It's often forgotten that the game-tying tally was Eberle's second goal of the contest. He also scored the shootout winner for good measure. Eberle then registered a goal and two assists in the final against Sweden, helping Canada win its fifth straight gold medal at the tournament.

Eberle nearly pulled off similar heroics a year later. With Canada trailing 5-3 with under three minutes left in the gold-medal game against the United States, Eberle scored not one, but two goals to force overtime. It was not to be, though, as John Carlson won it for the U.S. in the extra frame. Despite falling short of another gold medal, Eberle was named tournament MVP.

While the clutch moments alone make him an easy choice for No. 1 on this list, Eberle also has the stats to back up his ranking. He sits second on Canada's all-time world junior scoring list and fifth in points per game.

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