I have already discussed the current and former collegians on Canada’s training camp roster, and examined who should back up Jack Campbell for the Americans. Today I am going to project the United States preliminary roster, which will be announced on Tuesday.
The preliminary roster will feature 28 players, and be cut down to 22. The tournament starts the day after Christmas.
My final roster will be 13 forwards, 7 defensemen and 2 goalies. Final cuts will be listed after my preliminary roster.
Before we get to it, let’s clear up some returning eligible player issues: 5 players (Cam Fowler, Jeremy Morin, Nick Leddy, Jerry D’Amigo and Kyle Palmieri) are playing either NHL or AHL hockey. I expect Leddy, D’Amigo and Palmieri all to be released for the tournament. Fowler most certainly won’t be, and due to Marian Hossa’s injury I am going to leave Morin off my projected team.
Without further ado, the team:
Ryan Borque – Quebec (QMJHL)
Nick Bjugstad – Minnesota (WCHA)
Chris Brown – Michigan (CCHA)
Charlie Coyle – Boston U (Hockey East)
Jerry D’ Amigo – Toronto (AHL)
Connor Brickley – Vermont (Hockey East)
Chris Kreider – Boston College (Hockey East)
Kyle Palmieri – Syracuse (AHL)
Jason Zucker – Denver (WCHA)
Rocco Grimaldi – USNTDP
Emerson Etem – Medicine Hat (WHL)
Drew Shore – Denver (WCHA)
Tyler Pitlick – Medicine Hat (WHL)
Brandon Saad – Saginaw (OHL)
Jared Knight – London (OHL)
Mitchell Callahan – Kelowna (WHL)
Analysis: The US is going to be a little bit short on centers, hence me taking a guy like Pitlick. He is having what is perceived to be a down year in the WHL, but is still a point per game player and is a natural centerman with a very solid two way game. I haven’t seen any other projected rosters with him on there, but I think he would bring a lot to the table.
Two other good natural centers are Drew Shore, who is 2nd in the WCHA in points per game and is 2nd in the WCHA in goals with 13, and Charlie Coyle, who is having a good Freshman year at BU.
I left off Denver Freshman forward Beau Bennett who, beyond having a disappointing Freshman year, hurt his ankle in Denver’s weekend series vs. Minnesota-Duluth. If he’s good to go he will probably be on the team because of his draft status, but I don’t think I would take him.
Another 1st rounder I left off is North Dakota’s Brock Nelson. Nelson has been on the third line for much of the year and has just 1 goal and 5 assists in 14 games.
Rocco Grimaldi is quickly developing into my favorite hockey player ever, and looks like a lock to make the WJC team. He has 8 goals in 10 games for the NTDP so far this year, and while he is small he has a very hard nosed game.
Speaking of which, I took Mitchell Callahan specifically because he won’t back down from the more physically intimidating teams, especially Canada.
John Ramage – Wisconsin (WCHA)
Derek Forbort – North Dakota (WCHA)
Nick Leddy – Rockford (AHL)
Jon Merrill – Michigan (CCHA)
Adam Clendening – Boston U (Hockey East)
Justin Faulk – Minnesota-Duluth (WCHA)
Stephen Johns – Notre Dame (CCHA)
Brian Dumoulin – Boston College (Hockey East)
Patrick Wey – Boston College (Hockey East)
Analysis: The big omission from this list is London’s Jarred Tinordi, who is having some knee problems. Like Bennett, if he is good to go then I would have him on the list, probably for one of the BC guys.
John Ramage and Nick Leddy, being the lone returner and lone AHL player respectively, look to be the guys the US lean on for much of their high leverage ice time in this tournament. While they are a much less impressive pair than last year’s go to pair of Cam Fowler and John Carlson, they’re also better defensively than those two were, and will bring different things to the table.
Trying to pick who will play with who looks to be a little difficult with these guys. Brian Dumoulin will definitely be a good fit with a more offensive guy, but who that is remains to be seen. Forbort has 8 assists in 13 games for North Dakota, but his size is probably better matched with a smaller player like Leddy.
Jack Campbell – Windsor (OHL)
Andy Iles – Cornell (ECACH)
Michael Houser – London (OHL)
Analysis: Campbell has been struggling a bit this year, but after his heroics last year and in the previous two U-18 World Championships he is the only logical choice to start. Iles has had a rough season on the surface statistically for Cornell, but the Big Red are awful and so his numbers need to be taken with a grain of salt. Most projections have Kitchener Rangers goalie Brandon Maxwell as the third invitee, but while he has the edge experience wise, Houser has been the best American goalie in the OHL this year, so he gets the call for me.
Forwards: Connor Brickley, Jared Knight, Mitchell Callahan
Defense: Patrick Wey, Stephen Johns
Goalie: Michael Houser