The United States has announced their selection camp roster for the 2016 World Junior Championship, which will begin on December 26 in Helsinki, Finland.
The team will work over the course of camp to trim this group of 29 players to a 23-man roster that features three goaltenders and 20 skaters.
The selection camp roster features seven players who were on the team last year, including Milano, Matthews, Carlo, Collins, Werenski, Halverson and Nedeljkovic.
With the players who are absent from the list that might have been considered locks, it’s tough to call anyone a lock right now. But former Connor McDavid linemate in Erie, Alex Debrincat, may be one, after posting 32 goals and 21 assists in his first 26 games this year. He sits in third place among all OHL players in points, trailing fellow American Christian Dvorak, who sits in first place. Just behind him sits fellow camp invitee Matthew Tkachuk. All three of them are widely expected to make the U.S.’s final roster.
The players who were present last year, including projected number one overall draft pick in the 2016 NHL draft, Auston Matthews, are likely to make the team, but again, there are guys who were key pieces of the team last year who aren’t even getting an invite to selection camp.
One last note on the people who are here. They U.S. doesn’t seem to have a clear picture of who the goaltenders will be. With the Canadian, Finnish and Swedish rosters already announced, there isn’t any competition for a roster spot there. They’ve all already narrowed down their selection camp to the goaltenders they are bringing. The U.S. will need to trim one goaltender from the roster.
The biggest omission here is Jeremy Bracco, who jumped from Boston College in the NCAA to the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL after the season started. He’s found a lot of success in the OHL, so it’s odd that he’s not making the team this year, particularly after he made it all the way to the final cuts last year, in his draft year. He was the only U18 player to make it that far except for Auston Matthews.
One interesting note there, from Corey Pronman, is that Bracco’ ice time dipped at Lake Placid when Wilson became the coach. That doesn’t clear up much, but it might be a piece of the puzzle on why Bracco is missing from camp.
Bracco has put up five goals and 13 assists in 15 games for the Rangers this season.
Rangers F Jeremy Bracco on not being invited to U.S. World Jr camp: “It sucks. I thought I deserved to at least go to camp and show myself.”
— Josh Brown (@BrownRecord) December 7, 2015
As big of a shock as Bracco being out is the absence of Boston College power forward Alex Tuch, a 2014 1st round draft pick of the Minnesota Wild.
Tuch has had a modest start to his season with BC, scoring five goals and seven assists through the first 15 games. But he’s still a very strong player and was considered to be a lock for camp after being a key piece of last year’s team at the World Junior Championship, playing on a line with Jack Eichel.
Another notable name not on the list is Coyotes prospect Conor Garland, who has put up 19 goals and 66 points through 27 games this season for the Moncton Wildcats in the QMJHL. Garland leads the QMJHL in points this season and his omission has already been called a “mistake of monstrous proportions” by TSN’s Craig Button.
Another snub surprising many is the absence of Miami University’s Jack Roslovic, who was another like the three above who was considered to be all but a lock for at least making the camp roster. Roslovic has eight goals and eight assists in 16 games so far this season.
Another: University of Michigan’s Kyle Connor, who has 16 points in his first 13 games this season.
We can probably add Coyotes prospect Christian Fisher to the list of notable omissions as well.
Maybe too much is being made of these, but there appear to be a lot of surprises on the U.S. roster and a number of players who are here who weren’t a part of the team’s Lake Placid camp. There were signs that some of the “almost locks” would be absent and the competition is fierce here, but the number of surprises here is, well, surprising.
To recap there is no way IMO, injury excepted, that Garland, Tuch, Connor, Roslovic, Fischer, or Yan should not be at @usahockey Jr. Camp
— Craig Button (@CraigJButton) December 7, 2015
Nonetheless, it’s a formidable roster with a lot of young talent that could see the U.S. posing a threat for a couple years with many of the same players.
Potential Late Addition
Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer notes that Carolina GM Ron Francis says that defenseman Noah Hanifin could be invited to join the team during camp, indicating that there’s at least some willingness to let Hanifin go play for the U.S. at the tournament.
Trimming the Roster
The team will play their first exhibition game against UMASS Amherst on December 18 in Amherst. Then they’ll head overseas and play an exhibition against the hosting Finnish team on December 22. After that game they’ll announce their final roster.
With Hanifin playing regularly Canes might keep him in lineup. But might be allowed to play like Elias Lindholm for Sweden two years ago.
— Chip Alexander (@ice_chip) December 7, 2015
If Noah Hanifin gets loaned to USA, will be music to Ron Wilson's ears. When we spoke a few weeks ago he said fingers crossed for Hanifin.
— Matt Larkin (@THNMattLarkin) December 7, 2015
Dustin Nelson writes about news and the Minnesota Wild for The Hockey Writers.