Two top 2011 Entry Draft prospects who won gold medals at last year's tournament headline the team USA Hockey will send to Germany for the 2011 World Under-18 Championship.
Forwards Tyler Biggs and Rocco Grimaldi are rated among the top 25 North American skaters available for June's draft by NHL Central Scouting in its mid-term rankings.
Biggs, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound right wing, is No. 5 on Central Scouting's list. He was held scoreless in seven games at last year's tournament, but should have a bigger impact this year. Playing with the U.S. National Team Developmental Program's Under-18 team, Biggs is third on the team with 17 goals and fourth with 28 points. His 112 penalty minutes are a team-high.
Grimaldi, his USNTDP teammate, posted team-highs of 34 goals, 28 assists and 62 points. He also had 13 power-play goals and 5 game-winning goals. The 5-6, 163-pound center is No. 25 on Central Scouting's list.
At last year's tournament, Grimaldi tied for the team lead with 10 points, and was tied for second in the tournament with 8 assists.
USNTDP teammates John Gibson and Matt McNeely, two of Central Scouting's five top North American goaltenders, were picked for the team. Gibson, 17-10-4 with a 2.64 goals-against average in 32 games, is No. 1 on Central Scouting's list. McNeely, 9-12-1 with a 3.82 GAA in 25 games, is Central Scouting's No. 5 netminder.
Of the 22 players picked for the team, 17 are eligible for the 2011 Entry Draft. All 22 play with the USNTDP's Under-18 or Under-17 team.
Among them is center Jonathan Miller, No. 13 on Central Scouting's list. The 6-1, 198-pounder is second on the U-18 team with 26 assists and third with 37 points.
Team USA is the two-time defending champion at the event, having won last year in Belarus and in 2009 in Fargo, N.D. Ron Rolston, who coached the U.S. to a gold medal at the 2009 U-18 tournament, will return as coach. Chadd Cassidy, Tim Taylor, Joe Exter and Matt Curley will be his assistants.
They'll open defense of their title April 14 against Switzerland at 1:30 p.m. ET. They'll play Slovakia the next day, Russia on April 17 and Germany on April 19 in the final game of preliminary-round play. Quarterfinals start April 21, the semifinals will be played April 23 and the gold- and bronze-medal games will be April 24.
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK