Team USA, the defending champs of the WJHC named their final roster for the tournament with a lot of returning names from last year. Even with a lot of turnover, the roster remains very talented and is a result of the great player development going on in the United States now. Here are notes on the players participating:
Player NHL Team Drafted
Nick Bjugstad Florida 1st round, 19th overall in 2010
Ryan Bourque NY Rangers 3rd round, 80th overall in 2009
Chris Brown Phoenix 2nd round, 36th overall in 2009
Mitchell Callahan Detroit 6th round, 180th overall in 2009
Charlie Coyle San Jose 1st round, 28th overall in 2010
Jerry DAmigo Toronto 6th round, 158th overall in 2009
Emerson Etem Anaheim 1st round, 29th overall in 2010
Chris Kreider NY Rangers 1st round, 19th overall in 2009
Jeremy Morin Chicago 2nd round, 45th overall in 2009
Brock Nelson NY Islanders 1st round, 30th overall in 2010
Kyle Palmieri Anaheim 1st round, 26th overall in 2009
Drew Shore Florida 2nd round, 44th overall in 2009
Jason Zucker Minnesota 2nd round, 59th overall in 2010
A big-body center in his first year out of high school, Bjugstad has come along slowly in the WCHA and was hurt to start the year. His 65 frame is still a ways from filling out though Nick has enough puck skills, a terrific shot and overall potential that he could be an NHL scoring weapon in the future. He is still a number of years away though and has a lot of work to do to round out his game.
He may not project as much at the NHL level, but in this age group Bourque can be a contributor. Hes a very hard-working forward, who despite his diminutive frame doesnt shy away from physicality. His shot is decent as well, but with his superb surrounding cast, I doubt hell be relied on as a scorer.
Brown is a pro-level if not better physical player, with a solid set of intangibleshell likely be relied on for PK duty on this USA squad. Hes produced good numbers at Michigan during the last two seasons, with his best offensive tool being his shot. He isnt the most talented player, but will be a nice role player for the US.
Coyle has been nothing but impressive this year at Boston University. A plus physical player with an above-average skill set, Coyle in a limited sample has helped shed concerns that last years hype was a result of playing in an inferior league. He wasnt used as such in the summer camp, but I would be surprised if Coyle wasnt used in some sort of scoring role in the tournament.
Jerry fell to the sixth round in the 2009 draft largely due to a lack of pure tools. He isnt the best skater and doesnt really have any true offensive flash, but at every level the last few years he has just found ways to continuously produce. Hes a plus thinker who works hard and just finds ways to get on the scoresheet.
A very athletic and toolsy winger, Etem is a terrific straight-line skater and shooter with the potential to be a 25+ goal scorer at the NHL level. However, between Point A and Point B, there still is a lot to fix in his game. From the finer points of his mobility, his decision-making and his defensive game, he still has a ways to go.
Kreider is one of those guys who bleeds raw tools and has a very desirable ceiling. Hes a plus if not better skater with a good physical game and a plus shot. Ive documented his weaknesses before, being his puck skills and underwhelming hockey sense, but he has the ability to create a scoring chance at any given moment. Hes still a few years away from the NHL in my opinion, but at the U-20 level with his experience as of now he will be a guy with prime scoring minutes for the US.
An upper tier goal-scoring prospect, Morin has steadily made teams regret letting him slip to the second round in 2009. His skating is still an issue, but his puck skills and shot are both plus, and his physical game has gotten much better. His transition to the pro game has been great and he almost didnt get a chance to participate in the WJHC because Chicago was considering having him in the NHL.
The last player selected in the first round in 2010, Nelson is a raw physical package who has solid upside. Hes a big body, with above-average hands and has shown stretches of impressive play this year with North Dakota. His skating still needs work thoughmainly in his mechanicsand overall his overall hockey game does need improvement, although its ahead of where he was at the end of last year.
Kyle has made a lot out of a skill set that wouldnt warrant the level of production hes been able to obtain. Hes a hard worker who thinks the game well and shows a solid finishing touch. Palmieri has graduated to the pro game quickly and has very been successful in the AHL in his first few months as a pro.
At the time of his draft, Shore was projected as a player who likely could end up a third line center with an outside chance of being a second line pivot that produces good defensive contribution. While that for the moment is roughly how he still projects, Shore has been tearing up the college ranks as a 19 year old sophomore. Hes fourth in goals in the college ranks sixth in points with the University of Denver. Shore is a good physical player, with above-average hockey sense and his offensive game may just be on the upswing.
Speaking of Denver scorers, guess whos right behind Shore at number five in nationwide goals? Zucker as a true freshman has been fantastic and the energetic winger will be looking to exhibit his scoring ability as he enters his second U-20. Originally projected by many as an energy player at the NHL level, these last two seasons Zucker has been doing his best to prove people wrong.
Player NHL Team Drafted
Brian Dumoulin Carolina 2nd round, 51st overall in 2009
Justin Faulk Carolina 2nd round, 37th overall in 2010
Derek Forbort Los Angeles 1st round, 15th overall in 2010
Nick Leddy Chicago 1st round, 16th overall in 2009 (by MIN)
Jon Merrill New Jersey 2nd round, 38th overall in 2010
John Ramage Calgary 4th round, 103rd overall in 2010
Patrick Wey Washington 4th round, 115th overall in 2009
Dumoulin is a decent depth defender for Team USA who will likely be a third pairing guy for them in the tournament. His pucks skills are above-average for a big man and his hand-eye coordination is impressive. His skating has improved since being drafted from horrid to fringe-passable. Despite his offensive numbers in college, hell be hard pressed for power play minutes on a defense corps like the one the US has.
Its rare to see a defenseman have a 2:1 goal to assist ratio, but thats what Faulk did last year with the USNTDP and why people were salivating over his power play potential. Hes a plus shooter who picks his spots with precision and shows great accuracy on his shots. He has solid puck skills and when combined with good offensive awareness, makes him an ideal power play quarterback. He has his knocks, such as his frame and defensive game, but for the United States, he will be needed for his offensive assets.
Selected 15th overall in the 2010 draft, Forborts assets are his impressive physical package and the fact he has the offensive potential to be a number three defender at the NHL level. His skating and puck skills are both above average, but the hockey sense is still coming, although for an 18 year old defender its around where you expect it to be.
We talked about Leddy last week regarding his offensive potential. Hes a plus skater with good puck skills. The knock on Leddy has been the fact hes a below-fringe physical player and how that would hamper his game as he developed into the pros. He graduated from college quickly though and has been putting up very good numbers in the AHL. Look for him to be a power play contributor for the US.
Despite the fact he was selected in the second round in 2010, in Hockey Prospectus 2010-11 we placed Merrill very high in our rankings. Since then, hes put up great numbers at Michigan, with five goals and 13 points in 19 games as a true freshman. He shows a very well-rounded game and the ability to play all situations with effectiveness. Projected as a first rounder who dropped due to off-ice issues, Merrill is showing why some were so high on him going into the draft.
Ramage has progressed well since the 2009 draft, where he wasnt selected. Hes a fringe skater and for a 19 year old, his frame is underwhelming, but he manages to get by and produce with good passing, hard-nosed physical play and being smart defensively. Its his second U-20, but based on his overall tool package, I dont know if I foresee major minutes for Ramage.
If I had to take a shot at who will end up as the seventh defenseman for Team USA, it would be Wey. It isnt a knock against himthere are just a lot of good defensemen on this team. He moves well and is an above-average physical player, but the offensive production he showed in the USHL hasnt translated over to the higher-quality competition levels.
Player NHL Team Drafted
Jack Campbell Dallas 1st round, 11th overall in 2010
Andy Iles N/A Eligible in 2011
Campbell has had a rough time in his first CHL season, posting a .887 save percentage in 22 games so far for Windsor. Despite these struggles, hes one of the elite goalie prospects in the game. Campbells very athletic, with above-average reflexes and is very advanced mentally and with his position play.
Barring a collapse from Campbell, Iles looks to see very little time in this tournament. Hes an interesting prospect to watch if he does get minutesa 59 goalie isnt exactly common. Iles keeps the puck out with above-average reflexes, athleticism and great lateral movement on his skates. Undrafted in 2010, hed sure like to shine at the top stage for the plethora of scouts attending.
Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
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