USA Hockey announced the preliminary roster for their World Junior team today. You can view the official roster here. The US selected 29 players, which will have to be pared down to 22 players for the final roster for the tournament.
Here are some of my initial reactions on who the US picked.
This was exactly what I predicted, and was probably the best choice. Andy Iles gets the honorary title of "emergency goalie," though he won't attend the tryout camp.
That's ten names, that will have to be cut down to seven for the tournament. Forbort and Merrill are returning players that are almost guaranteed spots, leaving five open roster spots. Justin Faulk is also a returning player, but his participation is still pending release by the Carolina Hurricanes, which I'm thinking is unlikely.
As far as my predictions, I had it right, except for swapping Robbie Russo and Scott Mayfield for Kevin Gravel and Austin Levi. Apparently USA Hockey was looking for more of a shutdown defenseman rather than more of a skating, all-around defenseman. I think that bodes well for one of Levi or Gravel making the team. I also think one of either Seth Jones or Jacob Trouba makes the team. Adam Clendening just missed the team last year, and probably looks pretty good for this year, which would leave Stephen Johns as the last man out.
Candidates: Kenny Agostino, Josh Archibald, Bill Arnold, Nick Bjugstad, Connor Brickley, Charlie Coyle, Austin Czarnik, Emerson Etem, Brian Ferlin, John Gaudreau, JT Miller, Shane Prince, Kyle Rau, Brandon Saad, TJ Tynan, Austin Watson, Jason Zucker
That's 17 names, that needs to be cut down to 13 for the tournament. Bjugstad, Coyle, Etem, and Zucker are all returning, leaving nine roster spots up for grabs.
Predictions for forwards are almost always a mixed bag since it's such a diverse group. I had a few outside-the-box picks that looked good--Brian Ferlin, Austin Watson--a few players that I just forgot about--Bill Arnold, Kenny Agostino--and a player I never would have guessed in a million years--Josh Archibald.
Like I said yesterday, I think only one out of the group of Austin Czarnik, John Gaudreau, and TJ Tynan will end up on the final roster. Kyle Rau is the same size, though I put him in a different category just because he has a different style of play. A lot will depend on the training camp, but if it's close, I give the edge to Gaudreau who is one of only two forwards that could come back next year.
Two more cuts would have to be made after that. Josh Archibald seems the obvious choice. I'm not necessarily saying he's not qualified, because he's off to a great start to his freshman season and has a lot of talent, but there were multiple players that had more impressive resumes that were passed over, and it's hard to imagine him being selected if his college coach wasn't coaching this team. The final cut will definitely be a difficult one, and I honestly have no idea who it would be.