As THW contributor Drew Weber pointed out in his latest article, Team USA will be entering the IIHF World Championship Tournament with a mixed bag of established NHLers, along with future talent playing in various leagues across the nation. In this article, we will be analyzing the collegiate talent on Team USA.
Regarded as one of the top prospects in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Eichel is a name that hockey fans around the world are already aware of. The 2015 Hobey Baker Award winner, Eichel will more than likely be drafted within the top two along with megastar Connor McDavid. Spending two years in the USA National Team Development Program, Eichel put up 29 goals and 23 assists in 2012-13 in 58 games, and 38 goals and 49 assists the following year in 53 games played. In his first year at Boston University, Eichel scored 26 goals with 45 assists in 40 games played.
Eichel has appeared in 29 international games in his young career, playing on the U17, WJC18, and WJC teams. In his 29 games, Eichel has recorded 11 goals and 13 assists.
Eliteprospects.com had this to say about Eichel:
When Jack Eichel is on the ice, the pace of the play shifts; if players can’t keep up, they are left behind. A consistent scoring threat on the ice, Eichel possesses next-level hockey-IQ, an elite-level skillset, and the natural size and work ethic to let him play his role as a scoring power center. All-in-all, Jack Eichel is that uncontainable, dynamic center that can make other players look out of place in his wake. (Curtis Joe, EP 2014) – See more at: http://www.eliteprospects.com/player.php?player=191959#sthash.PrSgdrEJ.dpuf
The 15th overall pick by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, Larkin has taken a path similar to Jack Eichel. Like Eichel, Larking spent two years with the USA National Team Development Program, putting up 7 goals and 7 assists in 37 games played in 2012-13, and 17 goals and 9 assists in 26 games played in 2013-14. Choosing to play college hockey at the University of Michigan, Larkin was named the National Rookie of the Month in January when he posted 7 goals and 7 assists leading all college freshman. In his first year at Michigan, Larkin scored 15 goals with 32 assists in 32 games played. Larkin has appeared in 17 international games playing on the U17, U18, and WJC teams. In those 17 games, Larkin recorded 9 goals and 9 assists.
Eliteprospects.com had this to say about Larkin:
Larkin has shown he can be an elite-level power forward in addition to showing a high level of offensive ability. His ability to take the puck hard to the net allows for unique scoring chances most players would not be able get because of a lack of size and strength.
The 66th overall pick by the Nashville Predators in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Vesey brings a very nice resume to Team USA. In his junior year at Harvard, Vesey was named to the Hobey Hat Trick, as one of the three finalist for the award, along with Eichel and North Dakota’s Zane McIntyre. In his freshman year, Vesey scored 11 goals with 7 assists in 27 games played. In 2013-14, he posted 13 goals and 9 assists in 31 games played. Vesey saw has biggest jump in production in his junior year when he scored 32 goals along with 26 assists in 37 games played.
Vesey has appeared in 7 international games, playing on the 2013 Gold Medal winning WJC team. During those games, he scored 1 goal with 4 assists.
Vesey possesses speed that has drawn comparisons to New York Rangers forward Chris Krieder, he also clocks in at 6’1”, 195 pounds, and that size would translate into the NHL when Vesey does decide to turn pro.
The 98th overall pick by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Reilly was named the 2013-14 Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year. Along with his DPOY award, Reilly was also named to the All Big 10 First Team in that same year. In his freshman year at the University of Minnesota, Reilly scored 3 goals with 11 assists in 37 games played. In his sophomore year, Reilly found the scoring touch, scoring 9 goals with 24 assists. Reilly improved on those numbers in 2014-15, scoring only 6 goals but improving his assists number to 36, along with 47 blocked shots and a +25.
Reilly has appeared in 7 international games, playing alongside Jimmy Vesey on the 2013 Gold Medal winning WJC team. During those games, he scored 1 goal with 2 assists.
Hockeysfuture.com had this to say about Reilly:
Reilly is a great puck moving defenseman with good vision and a strong shot. His biggest improvements need to be on the defensive side of the game, starting with his positioning but that should come with maturity. Reilly has added 30 pounds to his once questionable frame since being drafted which has made him much more effective in his own zone. He has great instincts on when to the join the rush and excels on the power play.
Lyon is the only collegiate goaltender on Team USA, playing alongside former UMass netminder Connor Hellebuyck. Lyon was named to the 2014-15 All Ivy League team, as well as the All-ECAC 1st team. In his first year at Yale, Lyon posted a 14-11-5 record in 30 games played. That year he had a 2.41 GAA, along with a .918 save percentage and he also recorded three shutouts. In 2014-15, Lyon had a 15-7-4 record in 26 games played, he improved his GAA (1.62), save percentage (.938%), and shutouts (5).