Maybe this one will be better? Next year's tournament will be the showcase for the 1993-birthdate age group, a group that has always looked very underwhelming on paper, but has done pretty well on the international stage. And really, you just never know. Out of the last five years, the US team expected to be the weakest was the only one to take home the gold.
Here's a look at some of the players that will likely be under consideration for next year's tournament. I'm sure I left out a few viable names. Feel free to mention them in the comments.
Returning : John Gibson
Under Consideration: Matt McNeely, Collin Olson, Matt Morris, Jon Gillies, Stephen Michalek, Jared Rutledge, Hunter Miska, Brandon Hope
Gibson is pretty firmly entrenched as the starter unless something weird happens. McNeely would likely be the favorite to be the back-up, all things being equal, but with a clear-cut starter, I like the idea of bringing a younger player in as a back-up so that he has experience heading into next year's tournament. The two best options from the '94 age group would seem to be NTDP goalie Collin Olson and USHL goalie Jon Gillies. Gillies has been exceptional in the USHL this year, but for better or worse, USA Hockey tends to lean towards NTDP alums over impressive USHL players, so I think Olson will get the nod. '95 Hunter Miska is the wildcard here. At this point, he's about a million miles away from being ready, but given another year to refine his game, he could surprise some people.
Returning: Jacob Trouba, Seth Jones
Under Consideration: Connor Murphy, Robbie Russo, Jordan Schmaltz, Brian Cooper, Brady Skjei, Jake McCabe Pat Sieloff, Connor Carrick Alex Lepkowski, Michael Paliotta, Joe Fiala, Andy Welinski, Garrett Haar, Mike Reilly, Ian McCoshen, Nick Seeler, Steve Santini
This might be the area of the team that is strongest for the US after it was a complete disaster this year. Jacob Trouba returns, as well as Seth Jones, who was pretty much on the team until injury knocked him out. Connor Murphy should be there assuming he's healthy, so probably not. Russo, Schmaltz, Cooper, and Skjei should make up the rest of a pretty solid core of defenders, with room for one more wild card in there.
Returning: JT Miller
Under Consideration: Tyler Biggs, Rocco Grimaldi, Nic Kerdiles, John Gaudreau, Mario Lucia, Vincent Trochek, Seth Ambroz, Blake Pietila,Cam Darcy, Steven Fogarty, Joseph LaBate, Shane McColgan, Tony Cameranesi, Travis Boyd, Alex Broadhurst, Taylor Cammarata, Luke Johnson, Hudson Fasching, Ryan Haggerty, Colin Blackwell, Tyler Motte, Cole Bardreau,
This group is wide open. Only JT Miller returns, meaning there will be 12 spots up for grabs. Scoring looks to be a huge, huge concern for this team. USA Hockey likes to fill out their bottom lines with older, more grinding role players, but I think they'd be better taking some younger, potentially elite scorers, hoping one or more of them come up with an impressive tournament.