Team North America (née Young Guns) has developed into a likable team that genuinely has a chance in the tournament. At the start of the season there were more questions about defensive depth and goaltending, but those fears have been erased. In fact, it’d be surprising to see this team sitting at the bottom of the heap once the tournament has wrapped.
On May 27, the final seven slots on the Team North America World Cup roster will be announced, completing the team. There are a lot of options and some late-season performances that might shake things up.
Team North America’s Projected Final Roster Spots
Matthews was getting a nod as a possibility seemed like a courtesy, rather than a legit consideration early in the year. Now, a season of pro hockey in Europe — where he came in second in MVP voting — and strong performances at both the World Junior Championship and World Championship, where he proved he’s capable of a strong two-way game against NHLers, have him as someone who should definitely be on the roster.
Also making a late-season push is Jonathan Drouin. Talent-wise he had to have been a consideration early on, but with the soap opera that has been his season, a roster spot was unlikely. But he came back to the NHL in the playoffs and has been one of Tampa’s best players with 13 points in 16 games. He’s shown that he deserves a spot on this team.
Both Galchenyuk and Sheifele offer depth and physicality that can help round things out for North America. Scheifele not only approached 30 goals (with an atypically high 14.9% shooting percentage), but should have grabbed management’s attention successfully playing a shut-down role for Team Canada at the World Championship.
Others in the discussion? Robby Fabbri had a good postseason, and guys like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Max Domi, Boone Jenner, Jonathan Huberdeau, Sam Bennett and Anthony Duclair should all be on a list of high-end also rans.
Gostisbehere, a Calder nominee, might not be a stalwart defender, but he gives the Young Guns (I’m sticking with it) a big defensive threat for the power play. While it’s a responsible group they’ve assemble so far, his inclusion would be a great add not only because of the talent he showed with Philadelphia this year, but because he offers something other players on the team aren’t offering.
Hamilton and Parayko bring a well-rounded game with a lot of size. Parayko showed in the playoffs he can handle the pressure and is absolutely worth the roster spot. Hamilton struggled after his trade to Calgary, but showed signs of improvement and remains one of the team’s best options.
Outside of that trio, the next in line might Matt Dumba, Noah Hanifin, Jake McCabe (who was good at Worlds), Jaccob Slavin and Jacob Trouba.
Team North America World Cup Roster Projection
(projected additions in italics)
John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks
Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets
Matt Murray, Pittsburgh Penguins
Aaron Ekblad, Florida Panthers
Shayne Gostisbehere, Philadelphia Flyers
Dougie Hamilton, Calgary Flames
Seth Jones, Columbus Blue Jackets
Ryan Murray, Columbus Blue Jackets
Colton Parayko, St. Louis Blues
Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs
Sean Couturier, Philadelphia Flyers
Jonathan Drouin, Tampa Bay Lightning
Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres
Alex Galchenyuk, Montreal Canadiens
Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames
Dylan Larkin, Detroit Red Wings
Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
Auston Matthews, ZSC Lions
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
J.T. Miller, New York Rangers
Sean Monahan, Calgary Flames
Brandon Saad, Columbus Blue Jackets
Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg Jets
Dustin Nelson writes about news and the Minnesota Wild for The Hockey Writers.