The United States boasts a young and talented roster in 2020 as they attempt to medal for the fifth consecutive time at the World Junior Championships. Returning stars along with new talent makeup a roster that hopes to not only get to the gold medal game as they did last year but to win it as well.
The final roster for the U.S. is now set; they will play in Group B along with Canada, Russia, Czech Republic, and Germany. Matchups with Canada and Russia will be must-watch TV as usual. Can this U.S. team match their heroics in 2017 and recapture a gold medal?
The Hockey Writers takes an in-depth look at the U.S. roster ahead of what should be an incredible tournament.
Spencer Knight, Isaiah Saville, Dustin Wolf
Spencer Knight, the starting goaltender of the Boston College Eagles, will carry the brunt of the load. Knight is a first-round pick of the Florida Panthers and has been having a fantastic season at college so far. In 15 games played Knight has just a 1.73 goals-against average (GAA) and a .940 save percentage. While he did not play, Knight is a returning member of the silver-medal team from last season and will look to learn from his past experiences as he starts in the World Juniors for the first time. The U.S. will look to Knight to lead them, especially in tough early matchups against Canada and Russia.
The overall goaltending talent for the U.S. takes a considerable dip following Knight as Isaiah Saville and Dustin Wolf round out the position. Saville, the goaltender for the University of Nebraska-Omaha, has had less than stellar numbers this season with a 3.04 GAA and a .889 save percentage. Wolf, has considerably better numbers in the WHL with a 1.91 GAA and a .941 save percentage. The two goalies will most likely see little ice time if any at all considering the extensive trust and belief in Knight. However, things can change quickly throughout a tournament, an injury to Knight or multiple bad performances could catapult one of these two goaltenders into a starting role.
Ty Emberson, Jordan Harris, Zac Jones, K’Andre Miller, Mattias Samuelsson, Spencer Stastney, Cam York
K’Andre Miller and Mattias Samuelsson will be the only returning members of the silver medal team from last season. Miller, a first-round pick of the New York Rangers, has been playing college hockey for the University of Wisconsin Badgers and is said to have huge upside. He has tallied 11 points this season, however, he is also a minus-nine on the year in overall plus/minus. He will be looked to for key minutes along with Cam York out of the University of Michigan. York has currently tallied nine points and is a plus one on the season.
Samuelsson, a Sabres prospect, brings a physical aspect of the game mostly due to his size. He was a captain in last year’s tournament and currently captains his college team at Western Michigan. Spencer Stastney has struggled to collect points at Notre Dame but continues to develop and was a good stay at home defenseman at college. He does have the ability to score, however, as he had 28 points for the U.S. National U-18 team in 2017-18.
Jordan Harris will also be looked to for offense on the blue line. Harris, a Northeastern University product, has been described as a “puck-moving defenseman” while he played valuable minutes on the top pair. Zac Jones will also be looked at in this regard after tallying 12 points in 17 games for Umass Amherst.
Finally, Ty Emberson, a much needed right-handed shot, is also more of a stay-at-home defenseman in the same regard as Stastney. He is an Arizona Coyotes prospect and has developed well alongside Miller at the University of Wisconsin.
John Beecher, Bobby Brink, Cole Caulfield, Jack Drury, Parker Ford, Curtis Hall, Arthur Kaliyiev, Shane Pinto, Jacob Pivonka, Nick Robertson, Alex Turcotte, Oliver Wahlstrom, Trevor Zegras
There is an abundance of talent in the forward group for the United States. John Beecher, Cole Caulfield, Alex Turcotte, and Trevor Zegras were all taken in the first round of the 2019 draft while Oliver Wahlstrom was taken in the first round the year before.
Beecher has been lauded for his size and ability to clear the front of the net for other teammates. While he will play mostly a bottom-six role, it will be beneficial to have a talent such as Beecher for the U.S. when their stars are not on the ice. Turcotte, who drew comparisons to Jonathan Toews at last year’s draft, will be a valuable asset defensively and moving the puck for the United States.
Caulfield and Wahlstrom will be looked to as two of the main scoring forwards along with Arthur Kaliyiev for the United States. Caulfield, a Montreal Canadiens prospect, brings an incredible scoring ability despite his smaller frame. Wahlstrom returns after a solid tournament last season that saw him score four points in seven games including clutch assists to teammate Ryan Poehling against Sweden.
Still, the talent for the U.S. in their forward groups continue as every forward on the roster has been drafted into the NHL except for Parker Ford, a freshman at Providence University.
The Bottom Line
The United States once again will have the talent to win the tournament. What it will come down to is there ability to beat comparable teams such as Finland, Russia, Sweden, Canada, etc.
Miller on the back end along with talents like Turcotte, Wahlstrom, and Caulfield up front give the U.S. a team to be reckoned with. Knight could be the piece that puts the U.S. over the hump if he continues to play the way he has. Just about everyone expects him to do so.