Every team involved in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey had to announce the first 16 players of their roster, including two goaltenders, on Mar. 2. Here’s the first 16 players of the Team North America World Cup roster.
Team USA’s roster doesn’t look appreciably different than the roster for the 2014 Olympics, despite talk of how the U.S. development program has really started to produce some of the best talent around. Part of the lack of change is the U-23 Team North America taking a lot of players who will become regulars on the U.S. team in the future. Eight Americans are on the Young Guns team.
That lack of change isn’t to say that this isn’t a good team. It will be. It’s deep, tough and boasts some of the best defensive players in the NHL.
Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay Lightning
Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
Cory Schneider, New Jersey Devils
Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets
John Carlson, Washington Capitals
Ryan McDonagh, New York Rangers
Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild
Justin Abdelkader, Detroit Red Wings
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
Ryan Kesler, Anaheim Ducks
T.J. Oshie, Washington Capitals
Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiems
Zach Parise, Minnesota Wild
Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks
Derek Stepan, New York Rangers
Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets
Justin Faulk, who was a part of the 2014 Sochi Olympic team, has had an outstanding year for the Hurricanes, but is nowhere to be found here. That’s surprising, considering that Byfuglien and Carlson are, in the estimation of many, not as well-rounded as Faulk.
However, Faulk will almost undoubtedly be on the final roster, so it’s a small thing in the end. It maybe says more about how general manager Dean Lombardi will value size and grit. Byfuglien has been a bubble player before. He is no longer considered to be on the cusp.
The big name up front that’s absent is Phil Kessel. He’s been bumped in favor of a grinder that we’ll get to in a moment.
There aren’t many surprising inclusions since this team isn’t far from what we saw in Sochi. However, the inclusion of Byfuglien is interesting in that it seems like an effort to add some offense and even more size.
The only forward who is a surprising addition in this group is Abdelkader. He gets a nod over some other notable omissions in Bobby Ryan, Paul Stastny, Tyler Johnson and Kessel. It’s a very Lombardi choice to go with a guy who is a grinder over some of the skill guys that are not named to today’s 16-man roster.
Star scoring power is notably thin. For being one of the super powers in the tournament, the U.S. roster lacks the kind of dynamic scoring ability of Team Russia, Team North America or Team Canada. Yes, they have Kane, who leads the NHL in points, as well as Joe Pavelski, but they don’t have anywhere near the scoring prowess of the aforementioned teams.
They’ll have to rely on stingy defense to work their way into contention.
Defense is this team’s biggest asset. They have a strong defensive group and a large chunk of their forward group is defensively sound. They’ve also got good size and could be a gritty team. The focus on grit is expected with Lombardi as GM and John Tortorella as head coach.
More World Cup Roster Announcements:
Team Canada Roster Announcement
Team Czech Republic World Cup Roster Announcement
Team Europe World Cup Roster Announcement
Team Finland World Cup Roster Announcement
Team North America World Cup Roster Announcement
Team Russia World Cup Roster Announcement
Team Sweden World Cup Roster Announcement
Dustin Nelson writes about news and the Minnesota Wild for The Hockey Writers.