USA Hockey unveiled its 26-player preliminary roster for the World Junior Championship today. This list will have to be whittled down to 20 skaters and three goaltenders before Team USA takes the ice against the Czech Republic on Dec. 26 in Malmo. All of these players will convene in Minneapolis for the U.S. portion of the pre-tournament training camp Dec. 15.
As there is every year, there were a few surprise additions and omissions, but only a few this time around. This year’s roster was complicated by the fact that three age-eligible players were on NHL rosters and one eligible returnee injured (Patrick Sieloff).
The roster in full can be found here, but here’s who made the camp:
Goalies (3): Jon Gillies, Anthony Stolarz, Thatcher Demko
Defensemen (8): Will Butcher, Connor Carrick, Tony DeAngelo, Matt Grzelcyk, Ian McCoshen, Brett Pesce, Steven Santini, Brady Skjei
Forwards (15): Riley Barber, J.T. Compher, Andrew Copp,Tommy DiPauli, Jack Eichel, Adam Erne, Hudson Fasching, Ryan Fitzgerald, Ryan Hartman, Nic Kerdiles, Stefan Matteau, Tyler Motte, Dan O’Regan, Henrik Samuelsson, Quentin Shore.
Some rapid reaction after the jump…
– The number of players in the camp was a bit of a surprise. The U.S. took 27 last year and I don’t think there were as many tough decisions as there was for this team. I thought defense in particular was an area where there’s still uncertainty and that they may expand the web to get a look at a few more players.
– This roster didn’t have a ton of real surprises on it. The only two players that made this camp that were not part of the summer team’s camp were Ryan Fitzgerald and Jack Eichel. Ryan Hartman also was not at the camp, but that was due to injury.
Eichel has been tearing it up at the NTDP and I would not be surprised to see him in a prominent offensive role. He’s the most skilled center the U.S. has in camp and that may make things tougher for a guy like Danny O’Regan to stay in the mix for a top-six center spot. He’s not eligible until the 2015 draft, but he’s a guy you should definitely keep you eye on.
Fitzgerald has had a terrific freshman campaign. It helps that BC assistant Greg Brown is on staff for Team USA as well. He obviously knows what the young Bruins prospect can do.
– Speaking of Hartman, I had heard there was some real concern he wouldn’t be ready for the tournament with an undisclosed injury that has kept him out since early November. Him being on the list is good news for Team USA as they will need his versatility and World Junior experience.
– The one player I’m especially surprised did not get an invite was Taylor Cammarata. The fact that he plays at Minnesota and has produced well as a true freshman led me to believe he’d make the roster. The one thing I’ve wondered about him all year is if he’d be able to produce against the pace of the World Junior. Apparently not in the eyes of Team USA’s brass and his own head coach. That had to be a tough cut, but not an all together bad one.
– This may be a surprise to the outside world, but really wasn’t to me. Canadiens first-rounder Mike McCarron was left off the roster. I don’t think he was doing enough in London to warrant a selection. If I’m a Habs fan, I wouldn’t be worried. McCarron is a long-range prospect who has a lot of smoothing out to do. I think he’ll be there next year as he continues to round out his game. So step back from the ledge on calling him a first-round bust.
– Anthony DeAngelo is on the roster and that can quash any CHL bias thoughts you had. He’s leading the OHL’s defensemen in scoring. He’ll still have to battle it out for a position, I think, just because they have a few similar guys. DeAngelo has had a bit of a weird past with USA Hockey dating back to some of the summer select teams he played on, but water under the bridge. The way he’s played in Sarnia this year made him impossible to leave off anyway.
– The U.S. will have to make one cut on defense as they’ve brought eight with them to camp. Look for the big battle for the last spot to be between Anthony DeAngelo and Will Butcher. Both are good puck-movers and are very similar. Butcher beat DeAngelo out in summer camp as the latter was sent home early. It should be an interesting matchup again.
– Team USA has two AHL players on the roster in Connor Carrick and Stefan Matteau. I’d expect both to make the final roster and play important roles.
– There are four first-round picks in camp: Brady Skjei, Stefan Matteau, Ryan Hartman and Henrik Samuelsson. Tony DeAngelo is a first-round candidate for 2014, while Jack Eichel is a first-round likely for 2015.
– Henrik Samuelsson has had two years of bad summer camps, but he has been very good in WHL play. I like the idea of bringing him to this camp. He could potentially fill in on one of the wings and be a more rugged forward. I don’t know that he’ll make the final roster without playing very well in camp, but they’re giving him a chance. Samuelsson is also a dual U.S.-Swedish citizen, so you know it would mean a lot to play in this tournament in particular.
– Fifteen forwards are being brought to camp, meaning there will be two cuts there. One is probably going to be one of the five natural centers brought to camp.
– Quentin Shore’s terrific summer camp had to be a big factor in bringing him to this camp. He is a good two-way center that is going to have a battle on his hands with Eichel and O’Regan potentially.
– Tommy DiPauli has been battling injuries all year at Notre Dame and I wasn’t sure if he’d be ready for camp. His inclusion is a smart one, though. If he makes Team USA, it will be as a defensive-line forward who can bring a little offensive pop. He will draw tough assignments as one of the best defensive forwards invited.
– The three goalies you see in camp are the three you’ll see in Malmo. Jon Gillies is the presumed starter, with Anthony Stolarz potentially pushing for a start or two in the tournament, while Thatcher Demko will likely be there for the experience of it all (unless there’s an injury).
– For accountability’s sake, a review of the USofH roster projection: I had Cole Cassels, Sonny Milano and Brady Vail on my forward projection and not Henrik Samuelsson, Ryan Fitzgerald. Also had Tyler Motte listed as an injury replacement in case Hartman didn’t make it… he made the club anyway with Hartman. Also had Gavin Bayreuther as one of nine defensemen, the U.S. is only bringing eight to camp.
Stay tuned… player-by-player breakdowns are coming next.