Here it is: Your final roster for the 2011 U.S. National Junior Team. These 22 players are charged with defending the gold medal on home soil.
Jack Campbell – A hero in the gold-medal game, Campbell will have to be every bit as good in his second go around. It’s his show now.
Andy Iles – This goaltender will likely back-up Campbell for most of the tournament, however Iles is reliable when needed. He’s super focused and competitive and he’ll be a good compliment to Campbell.
Brian Dumoulin – His big frame and mobility made him an easy choice to be a big part of this blue line. He’s going to have to assert himself physically throughout the tournament.
Justin Faulk – This guy is likely your power-play QB. His rocket shot will strike fear into the opponent’s heart. He plays a physical game and has become more defensively responsible in the last year.
Derek Forbort – Calm, cool and collected at the back end. Oh yeah, and he’s 6-5. Great defensive stick and he can move the puck up quickly. Steady as they come.
Nick Leddy – His NHL experience and keen offensive ability will help Team USA. He’s a great skater as well. When the going gets tough, he’ll have to be tough. Should get some PP time.
Jon Merrill – Arguably the most gifted defenseman on this roster. He’s got a bag full of tools that will help him be dependable in all situations. Can play on the PP as well.
John Ramage – Should be a leader on this team. His WJC experience will come in handy. He also knows when to lay the big hit, or play the puck. He’s going to be a good influence on his teammates.
Patrick Wey – Played his way onto this club by being a solid defensive defenseman. He gives you good size and strength. He’ll be your blue-collar seventh D man.
Surprise Cut: Adam Clendening seemed to have everything going for him. In the end, size may have been his downfall. Team USA couldn’t afford three 5-11 defensemen. Faulk and Leddy were too good to leave off. In the end, Clendening’s cut may be just a numbers game. It’s too bad for the kid. He would have been a great story, being a local and all, but teams aren’t built for PR reasons.
Nick Bjugstad – Big centerman may have to play on a shutdown line. He’s offensively gifted and very strong. He will have to bring it every shift, and I think he will.
Ryan Bourque – Looking at this roster, he’s going to have to be solid on both ends. He can score you goals, but he’ll have to be a defensively responsible player, which is well within his range.
Chris Brown – This guy had to have a good camp and he did. He was used in a variety of roles in the exhibitions and he excelled. Hard work and talent came together for Brown. As long as he stays out of the box, he could be a threat.
Mitch Callahan – Callahan won the battle with Connor Brickley for being the physical presence on this team. He will lay big hits, but he’s got the ability to score. He’s going to have defensemen worried in the corners.
Charlie Coyle – Coyle looks to be a center for this club and he performed wonderfully last night. His size and strength will help him win a lot of draws out there.
Jerry D’Amigo – You couldn’t cut this guy, but he had a rough camp. I don’t expect that to continue. He’s been successful on the international stage, why should that change now?
Emerson Etem – Outside of Jeremy Morin, you might be able to look to this guy as your go-to scorer. He’s got speed and a release that is just nasty. He’s so good down the wing and he can score from anywhere.
Chris Kreider – Another returnee for Team USA that will be a big part of this team. If this team’s game is speed, Kreider is their poster boy.
Jeremy Morin – His nine-game stint with the Blackhawks will come in handy, but most importantly his goal-scoring ability is what Team USA craves. He will get lots of PP time, and should be a key to the offense.
Brock Nelson – Nelson is another guy who came out and had a good camp. He was better over the summer, and if he can regain that form, he should become an impact player.
Kyle Palmieri – Morin might be the go-to scoring threat, but Palmieri might end up being one of the best all-around players on this team. He had eight assists last year, but he can score too. He was dominant at times against the Czechs last night, scoring both regulation goals. Keith Allain may lean heavily on Palmieri.
Drew Shore – I’ve said it before. This guy is going to set the table. He’s going to win some draws and he’s going to distribute. He makes his teammates better and can find the net himself when needed. He’ll look to improve from a so-so camp.
Jason Zucker – He should be an important piece of the puzzle this year. Zucker played a bigger role than most expected him to last year. Now he’s got to show he can bring the energy to Team USA when they need it. He can be extremely hard to play against at times. Team USA will need him to be.
Surprise Cuts: Brandon Saad and Rocco Grimaldi.
Saad’s cut caught me off guard a little bit, but I’m not in the business of second guessing. This is a deep forward group and someone had to get cut. I don’t see this happening again next year.
Cutting Grimaldi kind of seemed inevitable after both exhibition games. It wasn’t that he played poorly. He just didn’t produce offensively. That was the only way he would have made the team, is by being dynamic and producing points. While Grimaldi should still be considered a top prospect, it just wasn’t his year. He’ll be ready to go for this team next year.
We’ll be back a little later this morning with more observations on the team makeup and what we should expect out of this group come December 26.