With the World Cup of Hockey projected to return in 2024, The United States will be looking for a much better result than the 2016 edition. In a group with Canada, Czechia and Team Europe, the Americans finished 0-3, joining Finland as the only teams who failed to win a game in the tournament. Led by John Tortorella, the team was dysfunctional, which led to their poor performance.
Fast forward to the present, and it looks like Team USA could be a favourite heading into the tournament. They have arguably the best goal-scorer in the NHL, one of the strongest defensive groups in the world and a battle in goal that features some of the top NHL netminders in the game today. There is no doubt they will be one of the top teams in 2024.
Head Coach: Mike Sullivan
Assistants: John Hynes, Don Granato, Dallas Eakins
Brady Tkachuk – Austin Matthews – Matthew Tkachuk
What is better than one Tkachuk? Two Tkachuks! Both Matthew and Brady Tkachuk are projected to play big roles not just on the Florida Panthers and Ottawa Senators in 2022-23, but for Team USA at the 2024 World Cup of Hockey. Both are coming off career years and have signed long-term contracts. These two both have experience playing for the Americans internationally, with this tournament being the first time they get to play together while competing for their country.
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As for their center, well, he needs no introduction. Austin Matthews is the reigning Hart Trophy winner in the NHL and would be a lock for this team. He is expected to be the Americans’ star player, and it should be fun watching him and the Tkachuks battle it out together on the World stage
Johnny Gaudreau – Jack Eichel – Patrick Kane
Team USA’s second line features one of the country’s most decorated players teaming up with two of the Americans’ top talents. For Patrick Kane, winning a medal at the 2024 tournament will be special as he has one at the U18, U20, World Championship and Olympic levels. He will also be looking to make up for a poor showing in 2016, where he recorded just two assists in three games.
Joining him are Jack Eichel and Johnny Gaudreau. The two were teammates on Team North America back in 2016 and will look to help the US reclaim glory at this tournament. This second line should have no problem scoring, as all three have shown over their NHL careers that they have no issues putting the puck in the net.
Kyle Connor – Jack Hughes – Trevor Zegras
This line could be playing together for the Americans for years to come as all three will be under 27 at the time of this tournament. Starting with Jack Hughes, he has been electric whenever he has played for Team USA. Back in 2019, he recorded 20 points in seven games as captain of the Americans U-18 team. He loves playing for his country and will no doubt be a difference maker in 2024.
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As for his wingers, they know a thing or two about offence too. Kyle Connor is coming off a 47-goal season, while Trevor Zegras is pulling off moves that is forcing EA Sports to find a way to code them into their games. While this won’t be a traditional third line, it may be one of the most fun to watch in the tournament.
Jason Robertson – J.T. Miller – Jake Guentzel (Alex Debrincat, 13th forward)
Just like Team USA’s first three lines, the fourth line brings a lot of skill and ability to put the puck in the net. Jason Robertson, J.T. Miller and Jake Guentzel, or as they could be called, “The Killer Js,” all recorded over a point per game, with each eclipsing the 30-goal mark this past season. With most of the tougher matchups being focused on the other lines, this is a trio that should have no problem generating offence against weaker competition.
As for the 13th forward, that honour goes to Alex Debrincat. A dynamic young star in the league, he tied a career-high with 41 goals last season. He would be a strong addition to the lineup, especially if the team needs a boost of offence during the tournament.
Honourable Mentions: Chris Kreider, Brock Boeser, Dylan Larkin, Matty Beniers
Quinn Hughes – Adam Fox
Two of the best young defencemen in the league team up on the Americans’ top pairing in Quinn Hughes and Adam Fox. Both finished in the top-10 in scoring amongst defencemen in 2021-22, with each recording over 0.90 points per game. They were teammates at the 2018 World Juniors and will be looking to turn the bronze medal they won into gold.
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As for play styles, they are very similar. Both are offensively-minded defencemen who have shown steady improvement in their own end over the past two seasons. They should be battling for Norris Trophies throughout their career, but in 2024, will have to put that fight aside as they join forces at the World Cup of Hockey.
Jaccob Slavin – John Carlson
Jaccob Slavin and John Carlson form a reliable pairing that can be used to shut down the opposition’s best players. While both players can get up in the rush and produce in the offensive zone, look for these two to be a staple on the Americans’ penalty kill. They should be key contributors in 2024, even if their point totals are low.
Carlson will be someone to watch during the tournament as, like Kane, he will be looking to put behind a tough 2016 tournament that saw him record zero points in two games. He should also be a frontrunner for captain as his career experience should help him step up as a leader in 2024. One of the all-time best American defencemen in NHL history; look for him, along with Slavin, to make an impact throughout the tournament.
Zack Werenski – Charlie McAvoy (Jacob Trouba, 7th defenceman)
Both Zack Werenski and Charlie McAvoy have become pivotal players for their teams and should make a strong third pairing for Team USA. Despite being born in the same year, they haven’t played together much but were part of Team USA’s World Junior Team in 2016, where they won bronze. Their play styles match up well, which is why they should have no problem developing chemistry during the tournament.
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The final spot on the defensive team goes to Jacob Trouba. He is one of the most physical defencemen in the league and has an extensive history with Team USA. A member of the famed Team North America back in 2016, he will be a great fill-in option in case of injury or poor play.
Honourable Mentions: Justin Faulk, Cam Fowler, Torey Krug, Seth Jones
Thatcher Demko, Jack Campbell, Connor Hellebuyck
The Americans have developed some strong goaltenders over the past few seasons, which makes this decision tough. As it stands right now, the best option would be Thatcher Demko. He put up the most wins and had the highest save percentage amongst American starters while being the only goalkeeper from the States to receive a Vezina vote. He would have been on their 2022 Olympic roster and should be a frontrunner as the starter in 2024.
There is some time for Jack Campbell and Connor Hellebuyck to overtake Demko, as both showed well during the 2021-22 season, but the Vancouver Canucks goalie is the clear favourite. It would not even be that surprising if all three ended up receiving Vezina votes by the end of the 2022-23 campaign. This is a battle to watch going into 2024, as it will most likely be a game-time decision once the tournament starts.
Honourable Mentions: Jake Oettinger, John Gibson, Spencer Knight
Team USA’s Full Lineup
|Brady Tkachuk||Austin Matthews||Matthew Tkachuk|
|Johnny Gaudreau||Jack Eichel (A)||Patrick Kane (A)|
|Kyle Connor||Jack Hughes||Trevor Zegras|
|Jason Robertson||J.T. Miller||Jake Gentzel|
|Quinn Hughes||Adam Fox|
|Jaccob Slavin||John Carlson (C)|
|Zach Werenski||Charlie McAvoy|
Team USA Looking For Revenge
The Americans will be looking to seek some revenge in 2024 and make up for their performance in 2016. While it won’t be an easy task, they project to have a strong team that can run up the score on anyone. Fitted with some of the best players in the league, there is little question they will be a tough out in the tournament.