The IIHF cancelled the women’s U18 tournament, as well as the the lower division U20 tournaments for the men. But because there is a dollar to be made, they are still plowing ahead with the World Juniors, against common sense, for a tournament that has already been marred by multiple players and coaches from multiple teams being ruled out of the tournament due to Covid-19 protocol.
With that said, USA Hockey announced the 25 players that have made it through initial testing and will enter the Edmonton bubble for the tournament.
The final three cuts from the team were Michigan’s John Beecher, who was a member of last year’s team, Michigan’s Thomas Bordeleau, and Providence defenseman Cam McDonald.
Additionally, returning forward Nick Robertson was not made available by the Toronto Maple Leafs due to the tournament possibly coinciding with the start of NHL training camps.
Prior to the roster announcement, Boston University’s Robert Mastrosimone, Alex Vlasic, and Drew Commesso were all made unavailable due to Covid protocol. Commesso’s departure opened the door for Logan Stein, who will become the first player from Ferris State to make a World Juniors roster.
As far as the final roster decisions(and all this is assuming there weren’t Covid issues we’re not privy to) . Beecher is a little bit of a surprise just because he is a returning player. He still has a one-game suspension to serve in the IIHF from last year’s tournament, meaning he would have missed the opening game against Russia, but with the prelim rounds being relatively meaningless, I can’t imagine that was a huge factor. Beecher hasn’t necessarily struggled at Michigan this year, but he also isn’t having a spectacular season.
The bigger shock is Bordeleau not making the team. He has been Michigan’s best forward through this season, and one of the better forwards in all of college hockey. Maybe there is some other issue at play, hopefully there is, because without it, it looks like the US traded in a lot of skill and speed to get a little bit bigger in their bottom lines, which I don’t think is a winning strategy.
Cam McDonald is a nice player, but it’s a deep US blue line already with nine solid players back there, so not a lot of room for him.
As for the team that will(we hope) end up taking the ice in the tournament, it’s not quite the juggernaut the US might have hoped to have with their stacked ‘01 birth year, but to get Zegras, Kaliyev, Turcotte, and Caufield all back for this year’s tournament is a nice group to build from. Hopefully they’re able to open up and have a big offensive tournament and the US doesn’t “puck management” themselves to another shutout loss in the knockout round.
The defense is going to be interesting with nine bodies. I guess it gives them some insurance if things go left in the next two weeks with injuries. It’s easy to call up a D if you’re short on forwards, but you can’t really move a forward back to play defense.
Of the nonet of defensemen, I’d expect Jake Sanderson to be the leader of the group. He’s off to a great start in the NCAA and could be one of the best D in the tournament. I’m also really excited to see what Ryan Johnson can do after his great start in NCAA play. Overall, I like the mobility of this group, which could give them the opportunity to play a really up-tempo, aggressive style, if they so choose.
In goal, it’s obviously the Spencer Knight show. The US will probably have the most talented goalie in the tournament, but it all depends on who has the best week in the second week of the tournament.
Overall, who knows. It’s going to be a weird tournament in a very weird year, so any sort of predictions are probably useless. But the US is bringing a roster with enough juice that they should at least be in contention for a medal.