2014 USA World Junior Hockey: Defensemen and Goalie Outlook
Photo from Michael Tureski (Icon SMI)
By Andrew Weiss (@WeissFC)
With USA Hockey’s training camp for the 2014 World Junior Championship less than a month away, it is time to take a look at how the eligible players have fared through the first c to pleouple months of the season. There are many players still in contention for the US World Junior team and still have two more weeksad their case for spots on the US preliminary roster.
Below is an outlook on how players on the back end currently stand to make the preliminary roster. Much can still change from now until the roster announcement and the list is simply my opinion on their play thus far. Most players have been viewed at least once by myself this year and all have been tracked extensively before the formal evaluation process began in August.
Notes: Assuming Jim Johannson and staff stick with a similar schedule to last year, the preliminary roster will be announced around Dec. 2 with camp beginning Dec. 15 in Minneapolis. Last year’s preliminary roster included three goaltenders, nine defenseman, and 15 forwards. Player statistics as of Sunday, November 17.
Gone from last year’s team is goaltender John Gibson but the trio of Jon Gillies, Anthony Stolarz, and Thatcher Demko combine to be strong suit of this year’s United States team. All three were invites to USA Hockey’s Summer Evaluation Camp in August and played well. The three have continued to progress with their respective teams and the unit as a whole is an upgrade from last year’s three goalies in terms of depth.
Thatcher Demko (Boston College, ’95) 3-0-1, 1.96, .911
2014 NHL Draft Eligible
Despite being one of the youngest players in college hockey, Demko was outstanding against #1 Minnesota and Boston University. While Demko has yet to officially breakaway as the starting goaltender for the Eagles, he should do so once he returns to from a hamstring injury next week.
Jon Gillies (Providence College, ’94) 8-1-1, 1.53, .949
Calgary Flames (2012 3rd)
Gillies has been outstanding for the Friars this season and leads the NCAA in goals against average, save percentage, and shutouts amongst goalies with more than four starts. The backup on last year’s team, the starting position is his to lose at this point.
Anthony Stolarz (London Knights, ’94) 13-2-1 2.56, .924
Philadelphia Flyers (2012 2nd)
London has had a great month of November thus far and much of the success can be contributed to Stolarz who has allowed two or less goals in five of his last seven starts.
Though the goalies are nearly set in stone barring injury, the defensive spots on the preliminary roster for the United States are still very much up in the air. 19-year-olds Seth Jones and Jacob Trouba will not be participating in this year’s tournament, but the defensive group does look strong led by Connor Carrick.
Connor Carrick (Hershey Bears, ’94) 12 GP, 0 G, 4 A, 4 PTS
Washington Capitals (2012 5th)
Watching Carrick last year in Plymouth it was obvious to see the huge strides Carrick has made in his all-around game. Much like John Carlson at 19-years-old, Carrick is playing professionally in Hershey and will be made available to the United States for the tournament.
Matt Grzelcyk (Boston University, ’94) 11 GP, 1 G, 4 A, 5 PTS
Boston Bruins (2012 3rd)
Grzelcyk was the last player cut from the 2013 United States World Junior team and has played well enough for BU to make the team this year. The two-way defenseman is small but should be effective on the big international ice sheet.
Pat Sieloff (Abbotsford Heat, ’94) 2 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 PTS
Calgary Flames (2012 2nd)
Having played on the gold medal team last year, Sieloff would be a lock for the team had it not been for him currently battling a staph infection. Sieloff has to be at least skating in the next couple of weeks for the United States to name him to the preliminary roster.
Ian McCoshen (Boston College, ’95) 11 GP, 3 G, 3 A, 6 PTS
Florida Panthers (2013 2nd)
McCoshen has made what seems like a seamless transition from the USHL to the NCAA and is a top pairing defenseman for the Eagles. It also helps that McCoshen played well against USA head coach Don Lucia when BC played Minnesota earlier this month. McCoshen has an inside track of going to Malmo.
Dylan Blujus (North Bay Battalion, ’94) 12 GP, 1 G, 3 A, 4 PTS
Tampa Bay Lightning (2012 2nd)
Though an injury caused him to miss half of the season thus far, Blujus is now fully healthy for North Bay. Blujus does not bring a skillset that cannot be found with amongst others in the questionable area. OUT
Anthony DeAngelo (Sarnia Sting, ’95) 22 GP, 8 G, 24 A, 32 PTS
2014 NHL Draft Eligible
Though DeAngelo was cut from the World Junior Summer camp, he has been an offensive wizard for Sarnia this year and dazzled at USA Hockey’s All-American Prospects Game in Sept. Concerns for taking him is a lack of size and overall defensive ability. Will USA Hockey take DeAngelo and Grzelcyk? OUT
Nick Ebert (Windsor Spitfires, ’94) 21 GP, 4 G, 12 A, 16 PTS
Los Angeles Kings (2012 7th)
Having a very underwhelming last couple of seasons, it appears Ebert is trending towards where many thought he would be when he was 16-years-old. Though he was unimpressive during the WJEC in August, he deserves another look. IN
Brett Pesce (University of New Hampshire, ’94) 12 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 2 PTS
Carolina Hurricanes (2013 3rd)
Pesce was looked at to be the premier stay-at-home defenseman for the 2014 World Junior team, but has been shaky during viewings of New Hampshire this season. While it is an over rated statistic, his team worst minus-2 plus/minus is worth noting. IN
Steve Santini (Boston College, ’95) 10 GP, 1 G, 3 A, 4 PTS
New Jersey Devils (2013 2nd)
Along with freshman partner Scott Savage (below), Santini has been great thus far for the Eagles. With Santini’s skillset he should at least make the preliminary roster. IN
Scott Savage (Boston College, ’95) 9 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 6 PTS
Could a third Boston College 18-year-old defenseman make the preliminary roster? It is going to be tough for Savage to make the team with how many left handed defenseman are ahead of Savage, but he’s at least worth a look after not being invited to August’s camp. IN
Brady Skjei (University of Minnesota, ’94) 10 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 2 PTS
New York Rangers (2012 1st)
Skjei has had a much better start to this year compared to his freshman year. His skating ability makes him an attractive option to make the team though at minimum should make the preliminary roster. IN
Jaccob Slavin (Colorado College, ’94) 6 GP, 1 G, 3 A, 4 PTS
Carolina Hurricanes (2012 4th)
Slavin is a guy who has always flown under the radar and is currently flying under the radar in his last year of World Junior eligibility. Despite being a freshman defenseman, the big blue liner has played a big role for CC and is their leading scorer despite not playing in last weekend’s series against Denver. OUT
Gage Ausmus (University of North Dakota, ’95) 7 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 2 PTS
San Jose Sharks (2013 5th)
Ausmus has played very well in previous international tournaments, specifically the 2013 U18 World Championship. Ausmus has played on the bottom pairing for North Dakota and did not particularly stand out against Miami. Ausmus will be in the mix next year.
Mike Brodzinski (University of Minnesota, ’95) 6 GP, 2 G, 2 A, 4 PTS
San Jose Sharks (2013 5th)
Brodzinski has had shades of brilliance in his freshman year for Minnesota but still has yet to find a full-time role on the Gophers’ deep blue line. Next year he will have an inside track on making the team.
Will Butcher (University of Denver, ’95) 11 GP, 3 G, 1 A, 4 PTS
Colorado Avalanche (2013, 5th)
Butcher is a part one of the strongest defensive corps in college hockey and is playing well in a top four role for the Pioneers. Combined with looking outstanding at the WJEC camp and elite college play, there are other defenseman who can play his role better this year.
Jack Glover (NTDP U18, ’96) 19 GP, 1 G, 8 A, 9 PTS
2014 Draft Eligible
While Glover has been somewhat disappointing in the start of his draft year, his skillset makes him an intriguing one. Next year should be more of his time.
Noah Hanifin (NTDP U17, ’97) 16 GP, 3 G, 14 A, 17 PTS
2015 Draft Eligible
Though it is fun to think about Connor McDavid and Noah Hanifin facing off, it simply is not going to happen this year. That said, Hanifin should be north of border come Boxing Day next year.
Tommy Vannelli (Medicine Hat Tigers, ’95) 21 GP, 5 G, 15 A, 20 PTS
St. Louis Blues (2013 2nd)
Vannelli has racked up the points since joining Medicine Hat and ranks fifth in rookie scoring in the WHL. While his offensive skill would be helpful to this year’s team, USA Hockey will likely hold off while the defensive side of his game continues to develop.