In just a few weeks, 44 young hockey players from across the United States will participate in Team USA’s 2021 World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Michigan. The tournament pits the U.S. against teams from Finland and Sweden. It serves as the primary evaluation camp for the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship, to be held Dec. 26, 2021, through Jan. 5, 2022, in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta. Among the U.S. invites is Chicago Blackhawks prospect and University of Notre Dame forward Landon Slaggert and 25 young men eligible for the NHL’s 2021 Entry Draft.
Slaggert will be joined on the Team USA roster by future UND teammate Sasha Pastujov. Slaggert recently completed his freshman year at Notre Dame, while Pastujov is an incoming freshman. Slaggert won gold with Team USA at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship, and he is one of six players returning from that victorious group.
Slaggert at Notre Dame
During his freshman year, Slaggert finished third in scoring for the Fighting Irish in 2020-21. He scored 8 goals and added 14 assists for 22 points in just 25 games. His older brother, Graham, (7–18–25 in 27 games) and team MVP Alex Steeves (15–17–32 in 29 games) led the team. The younger Slaggert brother was named Rookie of the Month by the Hockey Commissioners Association in February 2021.
Rounding Out the Roster
Team USA’s invite list includes 18 players already drafted by NHL clubs, 25 who are draft-eligible this year, and one player draft-eligible in 2022 (Logan Cooley, U.S. National U17 Team). You’ll find the full roster here.
In addition to Slaggert, the Blackhawks will be represented by goalie Drew Commesso (2020 draft, No. 46) and defenseman Wyatt Kaiser (2020, No. 81). The Ottawa Senators, Tampa Bay Lightning, and St. Louis Blues each have two prospects on the roster. Teams with a single prospect among the invitees are the Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, and Vancouver Canucks.
2021 Draft-Eligible Players
If you’re looking forward to the NHL 2021 Entry Draft, you’ll recognize a number of names on the Team USA roster. The Hockey Writers’ Draft Guide features player profiles and draft rankings. Among them are potential top-five picks Matty Beniers and Luke Hughes.
Among the other draft pick profiles you’ll find in the Draft Guide are Team USA invitees goalie Kaiden Mbereko and defensemen Sean Behrens, Shai Buium, Aidan Hreschuk, Scott Morrow, Jack Peart, and Ryan Ufko. Among the forwards on the roster, the Draft Guide includes player profiles for forwards Tyler Boucher, Tristan Broz, Matt Coronato, Josh Doan, Dylan Duke, Matthew Knies, Chaz Lucius, Pastujov, Mackie Samoskevich, and Red Savage.
Top Prospects for Team Finland and Team Sweden
The U.S. isn’t the only team with highly-ranked prospects for the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. Among the Finns are Sami Helenius, Oliver Kapanen, Ville Koivunen, Eetu Liukas, Aatu Raty, Samu Salminen, and Samu Tuomaala.
Team Sweden features potential top-10 draft prospects goalie Jesper Wallstedt, defenseman Simon Edvinsson, and right-wing Fabian Lysell. Other highly-ranked prospects playing for Sweden include goalie Carl Lindbom, defenseman Anton Olsson, and forwards Oskar Olausson and Simon Robertsson.
Summer Showcase as a Steppingstone to the World Junior Championship
The 11-game tournament among the three national teams will be a key opportunity for invitees to show that they deserve to wear the Team USA Sweater at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship (the games will be streamed live on HockeyTV.com).
Along with Slaggert, returning gold medalists and 2020 draftees include defensemen Brock Faber (Los Angeles, No. 45 overall), Tyler Kleven (Ottawa, No. 44), and Jake Sanderson (Ottawa, No. 5), as well as forward Brett Berard (Ranger, No. 134).
Barring extremely unlikely meltdowns, those players are essentially locks to make the World Junior Championship roster. Top prospects Beniers (also a 2021 WJC gold medalist) and Hughes also get a nod. The rest of Team USA is likely to be sorted out in the upcoming Summer Showcase.
Pete Bauer is both a hockey fan and player. As a columnist for The Hockey Writers.com, he covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, NCAA hockey, and NHL trends, statistics, and history. He’s considered the go-to guy for info on the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NHL Players’ Association and other hockey-related legal mumbo-jumbo. He’s a frequent guest on a variety of podcasts. You’ll find all of his THW columns here. Pete is also the author of over a dozen books on photography, digital imaging, and graphics, including “Photoshop CC for Dummies.”