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2018 World Juniors: Who Is Going to Buffalo?

USA v Russia - 2017 IIHF World Junior Championships

In 2010, the United States pulled off a wild, dramatic overtime victory over Canada, in Canada, in the gold medal game of the World Juniors. The following year’s tournament was held in Buffalo and there were big hopes of the US maybe equaling that performance on their home soil. Sound familiar?

The 2011 team got rocked by Canada in the semifinals, however, and had to settle for a bronze medal. Getting back to the dizzying highs of the past few days will not be easy.

It’s an annual tradition here that once the United States is finished in the World Juniors, we take a look at what the following year’s roster. Here is last year’s guess, which ended up fairly accurate. It’s kind of amusing to see Troy Terry thrown in the middle of the list of anybody I could think of go on to become one of the biggest heroes in US World Junior history.

For those not familiar with the age cut-off for this tournament, anybody born in 1998 or after is eligible to be picked.

Next year’s team should still be pretty good. There were a lot of ‘98s that played important roles on this year’s team that should come back and be just as good next year, as well as quite a few ‘98s that maybe could have made this team, but didn’t whether it be because of injury or just missing out on a spot to some older guys.

The bad news is that at this point, the US looks like they could two really lean birth years coming behind the ‘98s. I would expect next year to be one of the older teams the US has fielded at this event.

Forwards

Best Guess: Clayton Keller*, Logan Brown, Max Jones, Joey Anderson*, Trent Frederic, Patrick Harper*, Kieffer Bellows*, Casey Mittelstadt, Kailer Yamamoto, Will Lockwood, Josh Norris, Collin Adams, Ryan Poehling

Others Under Consideration: Grant Mismash, Evan Barratt, Jacob Tortora, Brady Tkachuk Riley Tufte, Sasha Chmelevski, Ivan Lodnia, Graham Slaggert, Graham McPhee, Tim Gettinger, Mitchell Mattson, Joel Farabee, Jake Wise, Oliver Wahlstrom, Nick Pastujov, Michael Pastujov, Zach Solow, Hank Crone, Charlie Dovorany, Isaac Johnson, Brannon McManus

Keller, Brown and Jones all have a chance to be in the NHL next year. Getting Keller back might be the most important because I’m not sure the US has another dynamic playmaker like him in their arsenal.

Anderson was incredible in this tournament, making the perfect complement on the top line, as expected.

Harper gets the benefit of the doubt for now, but he barely made this year’s team, and didn’t have a particularly noteworthy tournament, so there’s no guarantee he comes back. Bellows was in the same category until about the third period of the gold medal game when he looked like the Kieffer Bellows of last year, rather than the Kieffer Bellows that has been quiet at BU this year.

I said before this tournament that Mittelstadt and Yamamoto were probably guys that would have been on the US roster this year if the US roster wasn’t so deep. It’s a shame that both are late-’98s because they can’t come back in 2019, but hopefully they provide some secondary scoring.

Lockwood’s speed should make him valuable in a lower line role.

I went a little heavier with the last three spots a two-way center in Norris, and a pair of strong wings in Poehling and Adams. I have no problem going a little grindier with the bottom lines when there isn’t an elite scorer being left at home because of it.

Overall, I like this group, especially up the middle of the ice, which is always a huge plus. They can’t withstand the type of losses up front they had this year, but hopefully they won’t need to.

Defense

Best Guess: Ryan Lindgren*, Adam Fox*, Chad Krys, Luke Martin, Cam Dineen, JD Greenway, Sean Day

Others Under Consideration: Quinn Hughes, Bode Wilde, K’Andre Miller, Jacob Semik, Max Gildon, David Farrance, Tyler Inamoto, Matt Hellickson, Tommy Miller, Reilly Walsh, Nate Knoepke, Clayton Phillips, Ben Mirageas, Michael Karow, Mikey Anderson, Phil Kemp

I know I’ve got seven ‘98s on there, which means no returners for the following year. Lindgren is clearly a lock. Fox is probably pretty close. Krys probably makes it. I still think Luke Martin should have been on this year’s team over Cecconi.

The last three could maybe be changed out. Quinn Hughes has been the best NTDP U18 D this year. There’s also hope one of the U17s like Bode Wilde or K’Andre really takes off in the next 11 months and becomes a real force.

Goalie

Best Guess: Joseph Woll*, Jake Oettinger*, Cayden Primeau

Others Under Consideration: Keith Petruzzelli, Dayton Rasmussen

This should be a strength, and as Tyler Parsons proved, if you’re strong in goal, it makes everyone else look a lot better. Woll looked solid when he got into the tournament this year, he just got forced out by a once-in-a-lifetime performance from Parsons. Oettinger is solid too. One of Primeau or Petruzzelli will likely be along for the ride and to get some experience, but both are huge and good. Looking down the road, that might be the brightest spot on the US roster two years from now.