2017 World Junior Hockey Championship: Team USA preview

Can last year’s bronze medalists improve on their performance in Helsinki?

Two years ago, in the last World Junior Hockey Championship to be held in Canada, the Americans failed to medal, finishing fifth overall in the tournament. In last year’s event the team rebounded, claiming a big win over Canada, and an 8-3 thrashing of Sweden in the medal round.

This year an extremely talented forward corps will look to lead Team USA to another gold medal, something they’ve not done since 2013.

The American side is deep at forward, and is easily one of the best groups in the tournament, arguably only rivalled by Canada. They’ll need the offence to fire on all cylinders as they have only a pair of returning players on the blue line and three new goalies.


Team USA final roster

#Player PositionLeagueCurrent team (NHL)
30Jake OettingerGNCAA Hockey EastBoston University (DAL)
31Jeremy SwaymanGNCAA Hockey EastUniversity of Maine (BOS)
1Joseph WollGNCAA Hockey EastBoston College (TOR)
24Mikey AndersonDNCAA NCHCUniversity of Minnesota Duluth (LAK)
8Adam FoxDNCAA ECACHarvard University (CGY)
6Quinn HughesDNCAA Big TenUniversity of Michigan
5Ryan LindgrenDNCAA Big TenUniversity of Minnesota (BOS)
20Andrew PeekeDNCAA Big TenUniversity of Notre Dame (CBJ)
15Scott PerunovichDNCAA NCHCUniversity of Minnesota Duluth
12Dylan SambergDNCAA NCHCUniversity of Minnesota Duluth (WPG)
13Joey Anderson (C)FNCAA NCHCUniversity of Minnesota Duluth (NJD)
23Kieffer BellowsFNCAA Hockey EastBoston University (NYI)
22Logan BrownFOHLWindsor Spitfires (OTT)
34Trent FredericFNCAA Big TenUniversity of Wisconsin (BOS)
21Patrick HarperFNCAA Hockey EastBoston University (NSH)
49Max JonesFOHLLondon Knights (ANA)
10Will LockwoodFNCAA Big TenUniversity of Michigan (VAN)
11Casey MittelstadtFNCAA Big TenUniversity of Minnesota (BUF)
9Josh NorrisFNCAA Big TenUnniversity of Michigan (SJS)
4Ryan PoehlingFNCAA NCHCSt. Cloud State University (MTL)
7Brady TkachukFNCAA Hockey EastBoston University
27Riley TufteFNCAA NCHCUniversity of Minnesota Duluth (DAL)
17Kailer YamamotoFWHLSpokane Chiefs (EDM)

Head Coach: Bob Motzko


Far and away the greatest strength for Team USA this year is their incredible scoring depth at forward, including returning player Colin White. Even with 2015 first-round pick Brock Boeser out with an injury, his spot is easily filled. Jeremy Bracco joins the team after putting up 51 points so far this season.

As always, the NCAA is well represented in the US lineup, including three standouts from the Boston area in Jordan Greenway (6G, 9A in 13 games), Clayton Keller (6G, 6A in 12 games), and Kieffer Bellows. It would also be remiss to ignore the firepower of Jack Roslovic, who is playing in the AHL for the Manitoba Moose, and the University of Connecticut's Tage Thompson.

Despite all three goalies being new faces to the team this year, all three have a solid stat line in their respective leagues. Both Joseph Woll and Jake Oettinger have previous international experience with the US Under-18 team, with which they captured a bronze medal in 2016. Tyler Parsons has the lowest overall save percentage at .915 but it is still top-10 in the OHL. Jake Oettinger has the best looking stat line with a .932 save percentage and 1.86 goals-against average, giving the United States a solid trio to choose from in selection camp.


The biggest issue for the Americans heading into this year’s tournament is going to be replacing the talent on defence from last year’s team. They lost five members of their defence corps from last year, including Zach Werenski and Brandon Carlo who are currently enjoying successful NHL seasons. Returnees Charlie McAvoy and Chad Krys are teammates at Boston University, which means they’ll likely be heavily relied upon as a duo.

Outside of Casey Fitzgerald, there isn’t a lot of offence from the NCAA players on defence for the US. Seth Jones’ younger brother, Caleb, joins the team this year, and is producing at nearly a point-per-game pace in the WHL. If the United States fails to get offensive production from their blue line, they’ll be hard pressed to generate the offence they’re capable of. Without a tangible threat from the defence, teams will have an easier time honing in on forwards and shutting down the stars.

While all three goalies have solid numbers this year, all three are new to the team for this year’s tournament. In past events, the goaltenders have been relied on while the offence struggled to get going. If the netminders falter, it could short circuit an American bid for a medal.

Despite being incredibly deep at the forward positions, the loss of Boeser could loom large for the US although they did cut two talented forwards in Logan Brown and Alex DeBrincat who are having great seasons in the OHL. Brown has been dealing with an injury and his status was always uncertain. Boeser was having an outstanding season for the University of North Dakota, but will be having surgery on his wrist and will miss the tournament. While there is a lot of talent, losing a high-end scoring forward is something that can be tough to overcome in a short tournament.


The biggest factor for the US this year will be their defensive unit; the forward group is as dynamic as it gets. On defence there are a lot of question marks, and there are some big shoes to fill following last year’s departures. If the American defence can step up when called upon, there’s a very good chance this group could be a serious contender for gold.

There is also a large collection of skates to fill for the Americans, with a big group of NHL talent leaving after last year. Players such as Auston Matthews and Zach Werenski are not easy to replace, especially in a tournament like this. So a major key will be for the United States to get its star forwards scoring early and often.

Top of comments section | Top of article | Homepage