World Junior Hockey: USA Watchlist

Bruce Bennett

Here is who we're keen to see at this year's tourney

Here are the US players we'll be keeping an eye on at the 2013 WJHC starting December 26th. This is not a ranking of their top players or prospects, just the guys that we're interested in scouting and assessing their future fantasy hockey potential.

Top 5

#3 Seth Jones, D (2013 Eligible) - This is the shooting star to watch for the US as the 18-year-old man-child should be a go-to player for the US at both ends of the ice. He was a beast last year at the U-18s, leading the US to gold with 3+5=8 in 6 games and he is producing about a point-per-game for Portland (WHL) with 8+20=28 & plus-27 in 31 games so far. The only questions is will this be his year to dominate the WJCs or will it be next year (if he's not in the NHL)?

#8 Jacob Trouba, D (WPG-2012-1st-#9) - He is going to get some scrutiny from me as I pretty much wrote him off as a one-dimensional defensive dman during his draft year but he's showed more in his freshman season at Michigan with 5+6=11 & 50 PIMs in 16 games. He played more of a safe role at last year's WJC so now I'd like to see what he can do when he's counted on to chip in offensively.

#13 Johnny Gaudreau, LW (CGY-2011-4th-#104) - The 5'9" waterbug has a bit of an aura about him as he has made smooth transitions to the USHL & NCAA in consecutive seasons finishing both with league championships. This season it could be a personal triumph as he is currently 2nd in the NCAA in pts/gm with 11+12=23 in 14 gms and seems to have a Hobey Baker buzz on. I haven't seen enough of him to form a strong opinion yet so I'm looking forward to putting him under the microscope for the next two weeks.

#15 Alex Galchenyuk, LW (MTL-2012-1st-#3) - Comes into the tournament as the hottest thing on ice these days with 19+21=40 over his last 17 games for Sarnia (OHL). He is showing no signs of missing Nail Yakupov or rust from essentially missing all of last season due to a knee injury. What I want to see from him is can he dominate for the US like he has been for his club team.

#14 Shayne Gostisbehere, D (PHI-2012-3rd-#78) - He emerged out of nowhere last year during a stellar freshman campaign at Union (5+17=22 in 41 games) leading them all the way to the championship game and capped off his year by getting drafted by the Flyers. This season his production has improved with 5+8=13 in 15 games and his stock is really soaring in the prospect world but questions remain due to his size (5'11" & 159).

Others to Watch:

#6 Mike Reilly, D (CBJ-2011-4th-#98) - He absolutely tore the BCHL to shreds last season with 24+59=83 in 51 games for Penticton, outscoring the next best dman by 24 points. His numbers at UofMinn are more reasonable (2+8=10 in 17 games) as the Gophers have a bit of a crowded blueline.

#16 Riley Barber, RW (WSH-2012-6th-#167) - When I saw him play last year he didn't stand out to me at all but his numbers at Miami this season are noteworthy as he leads the team and all freshmen in the country in scoring with 8+14=22 in 18 games.

#7 Sean Kuraly, C (SJ-2011-5th-#133) - My interest had been peaked when some observers said that he was the best player at the US evaluation camp during the Summer but since then he has struggle with the transition to college with just 3+1=4 in 18 games for Miami.

#12 Mario Lucia, LW (MIN-2011-2nd-#60) - Led the BCHL in goals last season 42+51=93 in 56 games and is off to a solid start at Notre Dame with 5+5=10 in 9 games after returning from a broken leg.

#26 Jimmy Vesey, LW (NSH-2012-3rd-#66) - Looking forward to getting some views of this kid as he is pretty far off radar having played in the EJHL last season (48+43=91 in 45 games & named league MVP) and then beginning his college career at Harvard (5+3=8 in nine games).

Read the Team USA preview by SBNation's Bruce Peter here.

Anyone I missed?... let me know in the comments.

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