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IIHF World Junior Championship: United States Preview

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The 2019-2020 World Junior Squad for the US will definitely have a lot of new faces on it.

The team has yet to announce their final roster, but you can make assume it’s pretty close to finalized. With only 5 returning players, there are many open spots available. With lots of spots opened up there didn’t need to be many cuts to the squad. Goalie Spencer Knight, defencemen K’andre Miller and Mattias Samuelsson, forwards Jack Drury and Oliver Wahlstrom are members of the silver medal team from 2019.

 

Starting from the net out, this is arguably the teams strongest part. Beginning with the highly touted Florida Panthers prospect Spencer Knight who was the first goalie to be taken in the early rounds in the last few years. Knight is already having a lights out season in the NCAA and proving why he was drafted so high. With his refined technique in the net, making saves seem effortless, he is the bonafide #1 on team USA. The 2nd and 3rd goalies for the US showcase their crease depth NCAA goalie University of Nebraska Omaha goalie Isaiah Saville and Everett Silvertips goalie Dustin Wolf. Wolf is putting up ridiculous numbers in the WHL and the Silvertips continue to produce incredible goaltenders (see Carter Hart).

The defence is the most interesting part of the team, with so many new faces there are plenty of unknown commodities to GM John Vanbiesbruk. K’Andre Miller and Mattias Samuelsson are returning players and will be called upon a lot in the tournament. Philadelphia 1st round pick Cam York is slated to make the squad as well with his steady puckhandling abilities. Spencer Stastney and Ty Emberson are products of the USNDTP and showed the depth of that squad from last year. Expect Emberson to make the squad out of camp as he is one of two right shot D-men.

 

Oliver Wahlstrom was released by the Islanders and he should be hungry to succeed at this tournament as he was relatively invisible last year. Other than Wahlstrom the forward group is extremely interesting, starting with habs prospect and sniper Cole Caufield. He was a surprise not making the team last year considering the defensive style of the team that could have used goal scoring. This year expect him to be in the top 5 for goals scored. Alex Turcotte is also his teammate and you can expect them to put together a lethal combo. Arthur Kaliyev, and Trevor Zegras are all impressive offensive players in their own rights and will be carrying a lot of the offensive load. Bobby Brink fell in last year’s draft as he was expected to go in the first round, but he has many of the offensive tools needed to succeed at the tournament. Ottawa Senators prospect Shane Pinto was a surprise pick to go as high as he did however he is showing why the Sens brass selected him. Scoring consistently and in bunches at UND has provided Pinto the opportunity to snag a spot out of camp.

What should the expectations be for the US at the World Juniors? With a top scoring winger, and arguably the best goalie in the tournament, the defence will be the most interesting factor for the US. They have the makings to make another significant run at the championship. They’ll be in tough against teams such as Finland, Canada, and Sweden, but expect the Americans to make some noise this tourney.

Catch team USA in action:

Thurs., Dec. 26 Canada
Preliminary
Ostravar Arena 7 p.m./1 p.m. NHL Network, TSN
Fri., Dec. 27 Germany
Preliminary
Ostravar Arena 7 p.m./1 p.m. NHL Network, TSN
Sun., Dec. 29 Russia
Preliminary
Ostravar Arena 7 p.m./1 p.m. NHL Network, TSN
Mon., Dec. 30 Czech Republic
Preliminary
Ostravar Arena 7 p.m./1 p.m. NHL Network, TSN

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Photo Credit: Kevin Light/Getty Images

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