USA Preliminary WJC Roster: Surprises & Snubs

Bruce Bennett

A few observations from the USA Hockey roster announcement

USA Hockey released their Preliminary Roster for the upcoming WJC in Ufa and with only 27 players named, we can get a good sense of what the 23 man roster is going to look like.

Our friends over at the Western College Hockey Blog had some reactions to the roster announcement and the fine folk over at the United States of Hockey have an in-depth breakdown of everything (Rapid Reaction, Forwards, Goalies & Defense).

I'm not as familiar with the US & NCAA prospects as I am the CHL ones so I don't have strong opinions on some of these players but here are a few of my observations, looking mostly from a fantasy perspective:

Surprises

Riley Barber, RW (WSH) - The Caps 6th round pick came from way off the radar as he wasn't at the Summer evaluation camp to grab a spot thanks to a hot start at Miami where he leads all NCAA frosh in scoring with 6+12=18 in 14 games. That's a fine beginning and a great sign for the future but he could be in tough to crack the top 6 forwards and given that he doesn't have great size (5-11 & 194), he could one of the late cuts.

Sean Kuraly, C (SJ) - He is not a surprise given that he was widely regarded as the best player at the Summer evaluation camp, which was a surprise in itself, but he has started really slowly in his first season at Miami with just 2+1=3 in 14 games and so it makes you wonder if he's lost confidence or is out of form. Either way, I'm assuming good vibes from the Summer will book his ticket to Ufa but the question will be, what role will he play?

Jimmy Vesey, LW (NSH) - The MVP & leading scorer in the EJHL last year with 48+43=91 in 45 games has continued to produce in limited action at Harvard with 5+3=8 in seven games this year. He went undrafted in 2011 before being scooped up by Nashville in the 3rd round this past June. I'm looking forward to seeing him play as I haven't had the chance yet and it would seem as though he could earn a top 6 role with this team.

Mario Lucia, LW (MIN) - Much like Vesey, Lucia led the BCHL in goals last year (42+51=93 in 56 games) and has already potted four in just six games at Notre Dame after returning from a broken leg. It could be between him and Vesey for scoring line duty. He also led the US with four goals at the World Jr A Challenge last year.

Shayne Gostisbehere, D (PHI) - Another one who was passed over at the 2011 draft only to be taken in the 3rd round by the Flyers in 2012 after a strong freshmen season at Union College (5+17=22 in 41 games). He played well in the Summer and is off to a great start with 5+8=13 in 13 games but his size (5-11 & 165) may be a detriment at the WJCs and in future fantasy leagues.

Snubs

Henrik Samuelsson, C (PHX) - I've had a chance to see this kid play quite a bit and he can play on my (fantasy) team any day. His skating gets slagged but I don't see it as being something that will hold him back now or in the future. I guess he didn't impress during the evaluation camp, not sure, but a player with his skills, size and aggression would be an asset to the US squad, so I'm very surprised he wasn't invited.

Reid Boucher, LW (NJ) - Not the biggest or quickest guy around but he can score the puck, has 21 goals in 28 games for Sarnia this season and led the US with eight goals at the 2011 U-18s. I'm a little puzzled why he was left off the team, methinks they were overthinking here and have convinced themselves that they need a fast team instead of a team that can outscore the opposition. This is a guy that you can likely get for next to nothing in fantasy leagues these days and I'd take my chances at that price.

Nic Kerdiles, LW (ANA) - He's only appeared in two games so far this year at Wisconsin after serving a suspension for improper benefits. So lack of game action is likely why he wasn't named to the roster although team brass left open the possibility that he could be added later... interesting. He has plenty of international experience and was the leading scorer for the US at the U-18s earlier this year.

Jordan Schmaltz, D (STL) - Isn't lighting it up as a freshmen at North Dakota (1+1=2 in 14 games) but the Blues 1st rounder has size, skills, skating ability & a right-handed shot, so it would seem like he is worthy of at least a further look.

Adam Erne, RW (2013) - Plays for one of the more explosive CHL teams in Quebec City and that is surely helping him look his best (16+20=36 in 28 games) but I like what I've seen of this kid and think he is a high-end talent. He was likely left off this team due to his age (17) but he'll have two more chances to play at the WJCs.

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