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2019 World Junior Hockey Championship: Team USA preview & roster

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Another year with a stacked roster should see the Americans in the gold medal discussion once again.

Russia vs United States: Quarterfinal - 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Nicholas T. LoVerde/Getty Images

It’s become a regular occurrence for the Americans to field a gold-medal-worthy team year in and year out. Last year, a strong American side fell just short in the semifinals against Team Sweden — who themselves are perennial contenders in this tournament.

They rebounded by thumping an extremely resilient Czech team in the Bronze Medal Game by a 9-3 score, featuring a Trent Frederic four-goal performance. The team was led by Casey Mittelstadt who compiled 11 points, and Kieffer Bellows who set a US record for goals in the tournament with nine.

The United States is in Group B this year where they’ll contend with Sweden and Finland, and try to avoid a second straight misstep against the Slovaks.

Team USA final roster

# Player Position League Current team (NHL)
# Player Position League Current team (NHL)
1 Kyle Keyser G OHL Oshawa Generals (BOS)
29 Spencer Knight G USHL USNTDP U-18
30 Cayden Primeau G NCAA Hockey East Northeastern (MTL)
26 Mikey Anderson D NCAA NCHC University of Minnesota Duluth (LAK)
7 Quinn Hughes D NCAA Big Ten University of Michigan (VAN)
25 Phil Kemp D NCAA ECAC Yale University (EDM)
20 K'Andre Miller D NCAA Big Ten University of Wisconsin (NYR)
4 Dylan Samberg D NCAA NCHC University of Minnesota Duluth (WPG)
24 Mattias Samuelsson D NCAA NCHC Western Michigan University (BUF)
2 Jack St. Ivany D NCAA ECAC Yale University (PHI)
17 Evan Barratt F NCAA Big Ten Penn State University (CHI)
21 Noah Cates F NCAA NCHC University of Minnesota Duluth (PHI)
8 Sasha Chmelevski F OHL Ottawa 67's (SJS)
12 Logan Cockerill F NCAA Hockey East Boston University (NYI)
19 Jack Drury F NCAA ECAC Harvard University (CAR)
28 Joel Farabee F NCAA Hockey East Boston University (PHI)
6 Jack Hughes F USHL USNTDP U-18
9 Tyler Madden F NCAA Hockey East Northeastern (VAN)
14 Josh Norris F NCAA Big Ten Unniversity of Michigan (OTT)
16 Jay O'Brien F NCAA Hockey East Providence College (PHI)
11 Ryan Poehling F NCAA NCHC St. Cloud State University (MTL)
15 Jason Robertson F OHL Niagara IceDogs (DAL)
18 Oliver Wahlstrom F NCAA Hockey East Boston College (NYI)

Highlighting the US roster are the Hughes brothers. Quinn is returning on defence, and Jack (the probable first overall pick this year) will likely be featured prominently in the forward group.

Also returning to the team is Mikey Anderson on defence who, alongside Quinn Hughes and Dylan Samberg, are the three returning members on the blue line. Among the forwards who are playing in a second straight tournament are San Jose Sharks draft pick Josh Norris, who was traded to Ottawa in the Erik Karlsson trade, and Montreal Canadiens selection Ryan Poehling, who is likely to be a heavily utilized piece once again.

Joining the team this year, besides Jack Hughes, are Joel Farabee and Oliver Wahlstrom. Farabee and Wahlstrom will both bring a big offensive game to a loaded United States side, while Jason Robertson and Sasha Chmelevski add prominent scoring depth across the lineup.

In net, the entirely new trio of Cayden Primeau, Spencer Knight, and Kyle Keyser will split duties. Primeau, who almost made the team last year in the midst of his fantastic freshman year in the NCAA, will likely take the starter’s job.

Weaknesses

Expectations are going to be sky-high for the Americans once again during this tournament, and not being in contention for anything besides a medal will be seen as a disappointment.

The biggest concern for the Americans is going to be how their new additions adjust to the tournament. With just five returning players, it’s an entirely new-look roster, and for a team that relies on rolling four lines, the Americans will need to make sure their depth players are up to par.

Strengths

The high-end talent for the Americans is among the best in the tournament. Jack and Quinn Hughes alone are worth the price of admission. Quinn being the slick-skating blur on defence, while his brother is an obscenely talented centre who will instantly make a bad NHL team substantially better this summer.

Behind Hughes on the depth chart is Canadiens’ prospect Ryan Poehling, who last year was used as an all-situations forward for his team, and will likely be a leader once again. Poehling was a top penalty-killer, and out-paced almost everyone on his team in terms of ice time. In short, Poehling is a coach’s best friend for any point in the game.

On defence, K’andre Miller and Mattias Samuelsson are new additions to the defence corps. Both bring solid offensive numbers from the NCAA, as well as big size which they use to play physically. The defence should be a steady group in the tournament, and is in prime position to surprise teams offensively, too.

X-Factor

The Hughes brothers should be the driving force for the team on both offence and defence. Quinn showed flashes of brilliance in a smaller role in last year’s tournament, and Jack will be the featured piece in the forward group.

The Americans will need to hope Wahlstrom’s slow start (five points in 14 games) at Boston College is just an aberration and that he’ll be a key piece of the offence. There are a lot of new players coming to the team this year, and the five returning players from last year’s third-place team will be counted on to help their adjustment.

As always, goaltending can make or break a tournament. Primeau had a few rough outings at the Summer Showcase, and they’ll need him to be as solid as his NCAA numbers in this short tournament.