USA Hockey announced the roster for their World Juniors Summer Series, which is one of the first steps in determining a roster for next winter’s 2022 World Juniors tournament.
These players will compete at a camp at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan July 24-31 including some exhibition games against Finland and Sweden.
This year’s World Juniors will return to Edmonton and Red Deer for a second consecutive year and the US will look to defend the gold medal they won last winter.
While it’s unlikely any firm decisions will be made at this summer camp—I still personally prefer to weigh in-season performance over summer camps—this camp does provide a pretty good lay of the land in terms of the options the US will have for the roster.
And as of now, I’d say things are looking pretty good. Looking back at our roster projection from last January, if nothing else, we’re in such a better spot with regards to the Covid pandemic that there aren’t many concerns about USA Hockey getting off their camps, or people playing games this fall, which should provide ample evaluation opportunity. And we were even able to get enough games in this past spring to allow some fresh names to emerge, especially from the younger birth years.
The weakest position in terms of depth is probably in goal, which is fine because you’re only allowed to play one at a time anyway. Maybe someone will emerge as a back-up, but as of now, it’s Drew Commesso and then a wide gap behind him.
The defense, meanwhile, has an almost embarrassment of riches. They start with three great returnees in Jake Sanderson, Brock Faber, and Tyler Kleven and then there are probably 10+ guys that could easily fill the remaining four roster spots. The late first to early second round of this year’s draft should be very strong with American defensemen.
The forward group still isn’t exciting as the past few years. They return three players from last year’s squad and have some decent depth options, but at this point, there are still questions about high-end scoring ability. Can Matthew Beniers carry a team as their primary scoring option and can Chaz Lucius stay healthy are likely the two biggest questions that will have to be answered for the US offense.
Overall, this should be a very good US team, regardless of which players make the final roster. There are a lot of talented players to choose from and it should be exciting to see which players emerge to make the final roster.