Team USA announced the first two cuts from their preliminary World Juniors roster this morning. OHL forwards Logan Brown and Alex DeBrincat were released.
We’ll start with Logan Brown. I had Brown pegged as one of, if not the main contributor on this year’s team:
I’ve got seven guys that I put in my “definitely have to have” group:
Logan Brown(Windsor(OHL)) is a potential game-changer at the center position. There’s nobody in the tournament that can match up with him and if he has a big tournament, the US is going to do very well.
Now, there was a complicating factor in this, in that Brown suffered a pretty bad wrist injury on November 12th and hadn’t played in the OHL since. Bob McKenzie reports Team USA’s rationale was that he was “rusty/lacked pace”:
Don't shoot messenger, just forwarding rationale on Team USA cuts: Brown was rusty/lacked pace. Hadn't played game (wrist) since Nov. 12.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) December 22, 2016
We’ll see. It’s another two weeks before the really important games in the tournament, with many games in between, so there was plenty of time for Brown to play his way into shape. I suspect that’s more of a cover for the fact that Brown’s wrist wasn’t close to 100%, so I’ll save my anger for the time being. If Brown returns to Windsor and continues tearing up the league like he did before his injury, while Team USA sputters to another 3-1 quarterfinal loss, then we can revisit this decision.
And then there is Alex DeBrincat. The story of this World Juniors for me was always going to be the battle between the immense offensive talent Team USA could have potentially had versus some old USA Hockey salary cap mentality it insists on using in picking their rosters because it works once every four or so tournaments. I said DeBrincat would be one of the big indicators of which side won out:
We shall see. Last year, the final decision was rumored to come down to either Bracco or Alex DeBrincat(Erie(OHL)) for a top line scoring role—stop for a moment to consider the insanity of thinking a guy could play on your first line, but no other line on your team—with DeBrincat getting the final nod, and ultimately having a disappointing tournament. But that might be the best indicator of which direction Team USA intends to go this year. If both Bracco and DeBrincat make the roster, things might be different this year. If it’s one or the other, that’s a pretty clear signal that it will be more of the same from the US.
Yep, more of the same.
What once looked like one of the most exciting groups of forwards Team USA had put together in a long time now looks like a pretty pedestrian group by World Juniors standards. Some of that was out of their control. They lost Brock Boeser and Max Jones(and likely Logan Brown) to injury. Christian Fischer isn’t on the team because apparently Arizona stands alone in thinking AHL games are important. And they just couldn’t avoid the self-inflicted wound of cutting DeBrincat because they have to convince themselves their stupid summer camp actually matters.
Team USA still has one more cut to go, and that will come from the group of eight defensemen.