There is plenty of news this afternoon as we prepare for tonight’s World Junior Championship semifinals. The United States will get one of their forwards back for tonight’s game versus Finland. One of the best programs in the United States Hockey League (USHL) has one of the hottest players in the country and appear to have two more talented youngsters on the way. Finally, National Hockey League teams will be able to keep some of their youngsters around while the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) sorts itself out.
Moynihan Set to Return
The United States will be taking on Finland in the second of two semifinal games at the World Junior Championship tonight. The Americans are looking for revenge after the Fins knocked them out of last year’s tournament in the quarterfinal round. If they are advance to the gold medal game, they are going to need complete 60 minutes, something we didn’t see in their victory over Slovakia on Saturday night.
Team USA will get some reinforcements tonight, as Chris Peters reported that forward Patrick Moynihan will be back in the lineup. He hasn’t played since the second game of the tournament, on Dec.26, when he took this massive hit from Austria’s Philipp Wimmer.
“We’ll see how Moyni looks early,” head coach Nate Leaman said at his press conference this morning. “If he’s back to where he was, that fourth line gives us a lot of energy. We’re going to need that tonight.”
Moynihan had two assists before getting injured. Leaman knows exactly what he has with Moynihan as he is also his head coach at Providence College. The Americans are planning on dressing 13 forwards and seven defensemen for the game tonight. Goaltender Spencer Knight will get the start.
Steel Keep Rolling, Add More Talent
General manager Ryan Hardy has turned the Chicago Steel into the model team in the USHL and one of the top programs in all of North American junior hockey. He has found the right mixture to develop young talent while putting a competitive team on the ice each season. All you have to do is look at the last handful of NHL Entry Drafts to see how well the Steel have done at getting kids to the next level.
The Steel are off to an 11-2-2 start to the season and are tied with the Fargo Force for the most points in the league with 24. They currently have the top three point-scorers in the USHL, including Matt Coronato who leads all players with 14 goals, 18 assists and 32 points. He has at least one point in each of his 15 games.
The 2021 NHL Entry Draft prospect extended his point streak with the Steel’s lone goal in Sunday’s 2-1 overtime lost to the Dubuque Fighting Saints.
While they are seeking their second straight league championship, two more talented 2021 draft prospects are reportedly on their way to join an already loaded roster. Defenseman Jack Bar and goaltender Simon Latkoczy look like they are heading to the Windy City to play out the remainder of the USHL season.
Bar was supposed to play for the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League but they have yet to begin their 2020-21 season. Chicago acquired his USHL rights from Fargo and with the BCHL in limbo, the move to the USHL makes sense. Latkoczy is coming off an impressive run with Slovakia in the World Junior Championship and had very good games against both Canada and the United States.
CHL Players on NHL Taxi Squads
One of the new features for the NHL and its shortened 2020-21 season is the taxi squad. In addition to the standard 23-player roster, teams will be allowed to carry up to six extra players. With so much uncertainty, this will allow teams to not have to rely on an American Hockey League (AHL) callup in case of injury or, God forbid, a positive COVID-19 test.
The group will not count against the cap and teams are allowed to “send down” players to taxi squad through out the season. Some teams will obviously use this as a way to find some wiggle room when it comes to the salary cap. However, others will be able to use it to keep their prospects playing.
According to Arpon Basu of The Athletic, players from the CHL can play in the AHL until their respective leagues start playing again.
This, of course, means they can also be part of the taxi squads. In fact, Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas confirmed that they can have a player like Nick Robertson on their taxi squad. It will be interesting to see how many of these young players who are close to making NHL rosters will be kept around to start the season.