USA Hockey will open camp later this evening with the 27 players selected to the preliminary roster for the U.S. National Junior Team. The camp will span three days in New York before moving to Helsinki, Finland for another four before the Team USA’s final roster is named on Dec. 23.
It is not yet known how cuts will be handled or when they will be made. Knowing that each player’s entire body of work will be taken into consideration, United States of Hockey has you covered.
For a look at what to watch for at the U.S. camp, click here. Coming up after the jump, every invited player’s stat line from the first half of the season as well as a few quick pertinent notes. And as an added bonus, some video highlights.
John Gibson (ANA) — Kitchener Rangers — 20 GP, 13-7-0, 2.33 GAA, .929 SV%, 1 SO
Gibson has been one of the best OHL goaltenders all year, but a hip flexor injury kept him out several games recently. Gibson has had two starts since, one good, one bad. As long as he’s mostly healthy, he is Team USA’s projected starting goalie.
John Gillies (CGY) — Providence College — 15 GP, 7-6-2, 1.95 GAA, .928 SV%, 2 SO
Gillies may end up third on the depth chart, but Team USA has a very strong trio in net. While there might not be much playing time for the 6-5, 215-pound goalie, he will gain some valuable experience by being a part of Team USA and will be the favorite to start heading into 2014.
Garret Sparks (TOR) — Guelph Storm — 33 GP, 18-8-4, 2.75 GAA, .917, 4 SO
Sparks has had the heaviest workload of any of the three netminders on Team USA, but he’ll still slot behind Gibson. It seems like Sparks has been able to rise in bigger games and the more shots he sees, the better he seems to do. If he’s a backup, he’s a darn good one to have.
Shayne Gostisbehere (PHI) — Union College — 15 GP, 5-8–13, 10 PIM
The Union sophomore is a high-end puck mover and he’s seen plenty of ice time for the Dutchmen this year. His defensive game is coming along quite nicely and his offensive tools are accented by his terrific skating. His 13 points slot him sixth nationally among NCAA blueliners.
Matt Grzelcyk (BOS) — Boston University — 15 GP, 2-10–12, 10 PIM
Grzelcyk has been turning heads like crazy in his freshman season with his advanced playmaking ability from the blue line. He’s third for the Terriers with 12 points. His offense certainly stands out, but he’s a smart defender as well. Here’s a look at Grezelcyk’s first collegiate goal.
Seth Jones (2013) — Portland Winterhawks — 31 GP, 8-20–28, 21 PIM
Jones is an elite defender, who has been mostly dominant in the WHL after a somewhat slower start. Of late, he’s also shown he can do more offensively and has displayed excellent distribution skills. He should be logging top-pairing minutes for Team USA. Here’s a look at what Jones can do.
Jake McCabe (BUF) — University of Wisconsin — 16 GP, 2-7–9, 18 PIM
McCabe has looked even better in his sophomore year after a freshman season strong enough to make him a second-round draft pick. He ranks third overall for Wisconsin with nine points and has been solid at both ends of the ice. He’s not always flashy, but sometimes he can do something like this…
Connor Murphy (PHX) — Sarnia Sting — 33 GP, 6-12–18, 32 PIM
At 6-5, 203, Murphy is Team USA’s biggest defenseman in camp. He has done well offensively this year, but he’s most valuable in his own end. Hockey sense is a big strength for Murphy who rarely makes mistakes, making him as reliable as it gets on the back end.
Mike Reilly (CBJ) — University of Minnesota — 17 GP, 2-8–10, 8 PIM
Reilly is an awfully skilled offensive-defenseman who can make plays with his hands and exploit the open ice with his feet. After a slow start in his freshman season at Minnesota, he’s really begun to look confident and the production is picking up as a result.
Patrick Sieloff (CGY) — Windsor Spitfires — 34 GP, 3-6–9, 69 PIM
A defensive defenseman with a mean streak, Sieloff engages in the physical game as well as anyone on the roster. He may have to tone it down from time to time, so as not to take costly penalties. Aside from the physical side, he does do a lot of the little things well defensively, like blocking shots and showing good Dzone awareness.
Brady Skjei (NYR) — University of Minnesota — 15 GP, 1-1–2, 6 PIM
Skjei has had some struggles in his freshman campaign, but his physical tools have remained evident. His high-end skating and good, solid frame keep him in the mix for the team. As long as he can play with some confidence, Skjei is a very good defender who can chip in offensively on occasion.
Jacob Trouba (WPG) — University of Michigan — 16 GP, 5-6–11, 50 PIM
Trouba is the lone returning defenseman from the 2012 WJC and played exceptionally well as an under-ager last year. He brings a high-end physical game to go along with some offensive ability, highlighted by his rocket shot from the point. Here’s a few examples of what the big Dman can do.
Riley Barber (WSH) — RW — Miami University — 18 GP, 8-14–22, 8 PIM
Barber is the nation’s leading scorer among freshmen and is also the top point-getter for Miami. He’s been making things happen every game it seems for one of the nation’s top teams. His ability to create offense and be a threat most shifts is strengthening his candidacy.
Cole Bardreau (FA) — C — Cornell University — 11 GP, 1-4–5, 12 PIM
Defensive capabilities are what got Bardreau to camp. He’ll be a good candidate to be part of a shut-down checking line and penalty killer. Bardreau has good speed and plays with tenacity, which helps him make up for a lack of size.
Tyler Biggs (TOR) — RW — Oshawa Generals — 34 GP, 15-18–33, 44 PIM
Biggs is starting to develop into the power winger Toronto thought he could be when they took him in the first round two years ago. He’s producing well, playing with that toughness he’s always had and looks to be improving in the skills department.
Alex Galchenyuk (MTL) — C — Sarnia Sting — 33 GP, 27-34–61, 22 PIM
Galchenyuk has been on an absolute tear the last two months. In his final game before camp, he scored a hat trick and added a pair of assists. So I guess he’s ready to go… Galchenyuk’s skills are well known. He trails Ryan Strome for the OHL scoring lead by just one point. He’ll be the key offensive player for Team USA.
Johnny Gaudreau (CGY) — LW — Boston College — 14 GP, 11-12–23, 14 PIM
The leading scorer for the nation’s No. 1 team has been stellar this season. He’s second in the country with an average of 1.64 points per game. He might have the best hands in all of college hockey. His goal to ice last year’s national title gets more ridiculous with every viewing. See for yourself.
Rocco Grimaldi (FLA) — C/W — University of North Dakota — 18 GP, 7-9–16, 6 PIM
The red-shirt freshman doesn’t look like he’s skipped a beat coming off knee surgery that cost him most of last year. His 16 points rank third for North Dakota, behind a pair of well-established seniors in Corban Knight and Danny Kristo.
Ryan Hartman (2013) — RW — Plymouth Whalers — 32 GP, 12-17–29, 87 PIM
Despite being under 6-0, 200, Hartman plays with some edge, but also has a pretty high skill level. He’s playing well in his first OHL season and finds a way to be effective even if he’s not producing points. That versatility is what makes his value shoot way up for this team and improves his chances of making the final roster.
Sean Kuraly (SJS) — C — Miami University — 18 GP, 3-1–4, 10 PIM
Though his production has been lower than expected, Kuraly has great size and speed. He performed at a high level over the summer camp and may have been Team USA’s best forward at that event. He has good two-way capabilities, so if he’s not producing, he can contribute defensively in a lower-line role.
Mario Lucia (MIN) — LW — University of Notre Dame — 9 GP, 5-5–10, 4 PIM
Since returning from a severe leg injury, Lucia looks like he never missed any time at all. He has good speed and size with some excellent finishing ability. Lucia could play in an important scoring role should he continue his terrific play in camp. The fact that he’s playing this well after that injury is truly remarkable.
Stefan Matteau (NJD) — LW — Blainville-Boisbriand Armada — 29 GP, 15-10–25, 61 PIM
Matteau has that good scoring pop with a heavy shot and good power-forward capabilities. He’s also got a bit of that nastiness in his game. He’ll have to make sure he avoids bad penalties, which he has been prone to take, but his hard-nosed game works at this level thanks to his strong skating.
J.T. Miller (NYR) — RW — Connecticut Whale — 26 GP, 5-9–14, 25 PIM
December has been Miller’s best month as a pro with seven points in eight games. It looks like he’s really starting to get the hang of the pro game, which should play to his advantage when he returns to his own age group at the WJC. With prior World Junior experience, he will be another one of those absolute key forwards. Especially if he can do stuff like this…
Stefan Noesen (OTT) — RW — Plymouth Whalers — 26 GP, 17-9–26, 27 PIM
His World Junior status is in doubt, but until the IIHF makes a final ruling on whether or not Noesen can play at the World Juniors despite his 10-game OHL suspension, he’s still in the mix. With 17 goals in 26 games, he can certainly score. That power-forward style he can bring with some touch around the net will be a key. His physical strength and toughness wouldn’t hurt either. If USA had to go to Ufa without him, he’d be a tough guy to replace adequately.
Blake Pietila (NJD) — LW — Michigan Tech University — 17 GP, 10-2–12, 28 PIM
Not usually known for his offense, Pietila has been scoring at an alarming rate and leads MTU with 10 goals. For Team USA, Pietila will likely be asked to play a checking-line role, but he does that extremely well too. He’s great on the forecheck and if he can contribute a little bit of offense in addition to that physicality, it’s a big bonus.
Vince Trocheck (FLA) — C — Saginaw Spirit — 35 GP, 24-26–50, 34 PIM
Trocheck has put up some stunning numbers this year and is among the top-five scorers in the OHL with his 50 points. Trocheck has that good mix of skill and grit the U.S. tends to like and he could end up in an upper-line role. His offense is going to help, but he can be effective in the defensive end too.
Jim Vesey (NSH) — LW — Harvard University — 9 GP, 5-3–8, 4 PIM
The freshman leads Harvard with eight points through his first nine collegiate games, which includes a team-best five goals. He has good two-way capabilities and has shown some solid hockey sense that should help him out. He’s got to battle a bit for a spot, but he’s shown he belongs in the conversation. (Vesey snipe starts at 0:29)
Team USA’s first camp practice will be held at 5:30 p.m. ET Sunday night at the MSG Training Center in Tarrytown, N.Y. Practices are not open to the public. United States of Hockey will provide continuing coverage of Team USA’s preparation for the World Junior Championship, so stay close for more updates and analysis throughout the week.