The Americans have released their 32-player camp roster for the upcoming World Junior Championship at the end of the month. The group will be looking to avenge their disappointing quarterfinal loss after a dominant round-robin. The U.S. roster will be meeting in Plymouth, Mich. in a couple of weeks to sort out who will and won’t make the cut.
The Americans bring back eight returning players highlighted by Logan Cooley, Luke Hughes and Kaiden Mbereko among others, while one potential returnee won’t be back in Sasha Pastujov.
They could also be looking to replicate the impact that Cooley had on last year’s squad as a draft eligible player with the likes of Will Smith or Ryan Leonard, starting as depth pieces and allowing them to work their way up.
Based on the historical roster structure, Team USA will likely have to cut one goalie, three defenders and five forwards by the beginning of the world juniors.
Let’s look at an X-factor and dig into some of the snubs and surprises on the American camp roster.
Last summer, Logan Cooley was just two points back of the team lead in scoring but was frequently one of the U.S. squad’s most dynamic play drivers. This year, he will likely be a fixture in all high-leverage situations for the American squad.
Cooley will likely get the chance to play top-line minutes, get time on the top power-play unit and could even factor in on the penalty kill. His impact will be felt in all three zones, as he isn’t arguably just their most talented forward, but he’s one of the most well-rounded Americans on the roster. His offensive creativity and intellect mingle together so playfully, often producing art on ice.
Almost every team that wins the gold medal at the world juniors has a future NHL star in the making. The Arizona Coyotes’ prospect could very well be that player for the Americans. If Cooley has the monster tournament that some expect, the Americans should be standing with a medal around their neck on the tournament’s final day.
Sasha Pastujov may very well be the biggest snub of any team, considering he was on the squad last year and put up four points in five games in a depth role. He sits third in OHL scoring, and although the Anaheim Ducks draft pick isn’t the most high-paced player, he has shown the ability to be a borderline dominant presence at the junior level, both in league play and internationally.
OHL leading scorer Ty Voit is also noticeably absent from the American roster despite being one of the premier playmakers in all of junior hockey. His 39 assists lead the entire CHL. If you were to only count his primary assists, he would still lead the OHL. Although undersized, he is an incredible talent to leave off the team, let alone withhold an invite to camp.
Noah Laba is a bit of a surprise name on the roster. The Colorado College forward has had a good start to his NCAA career, but he hasn’t blown anyone out of the water with his play thus far. He plays a tough brand of hockey and could give them an element of grit in the bottom six, but a player like Tyler Boucher will likely fill that role if desired.
Another surprise addition to the roster is Sam Lipkin. The 2021 seventh-round pick of the Arizona Coyotes has been OK to start the NCAA season with Quinnipiac but has hardly been a standout. His performance as the captain of the Chicago Steel last season likely went into this as well, as he could provide some good two-way ability in the bottom six with a knack for scoring in big moments.
The First-Year 2023 NHL Draft Eligible Players
It goes without saying that the addition of 2023 NHL draft eligible forwards Gavin Brindley, Ryan Leonard, Will Smith and Charlie Stramel all included is exciting. The number will likely be halved by the time the official roster is announced with Stramel likely occupying one spot having been on the team in the summer. That leaves Smith, Leonard, and Brindley to fight it out. Smith would be the favorite amongst that group. Trey Augustine is also draft eligible in net and will likely slot in as the third goalie for the team.
- Reacting to Team USA’s 2023 World Junior Camp Roster
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