Following its second-ever gold medal at the 2010 WJC in Saskatoon, the U.S. took home the bronze last year in Buffalo. They'll try for a medal three-peat at the 2012 WJC, which will be held from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5, 2012 in Edmonton and Calgary.
The United States will assemble for a pre-tournament training camp that will run Dec. 17-23 in Camrose, Alta. The roster for that camp will be announced live Monday at 5:30 p.m. ET on NHL Live on the NHL Network. The final 22-player roster for the 2012 WJC is expected to be announced Dec. 22.
The camp roster itself -- or even how many names will be on the list -- won't be known until the official unveiling. However, NHL.com's draft experts, Adam Kimelman and Mike G. Morreale, who have covered each of the past three tournaments, have decided to take a guess at what the roster might look like.
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There are a few notable players you'll notice are missing from this list. Defenseman Justin Faulk was a big part of last year's bronze medalists and has junior eligibility, but a strong performance in USA Hockey's summer evaluation camp in Lake Placid, N.Y., in August was a springboard to a season that's seen him split time between the Carolina Hurricanes and their AHL affiliate. That likely means he won't be released for the tournament.
Injuries kept a few other players from making our list, as well.
Forward Rocco Grimaldi, who also played well at the Lake Placid camp, is out with a knee injury that likely won't heal in time for him to be a part of the team. Brandon Saad, who earlier this season became just the second player since 2003 drafted outside the first round to play in the NHL as an 18-year-old, has been out since Oct. 29 with an upper-body injury. And top 2012 NHL Draft prospect Alex Galchenyuk is out for the season with a knee injury.
How smart are NHL.com's World Junior Championship gurus? You can watch for yourself Monday evening.
Jack Campbell, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
Kimelman says: No junior-age goalie has as much international experience as Campbell, who was in goal when the U.S. pulled off their overtime golden victory two years ago in Saskatoon, and was voted the best goaltender of last year's tournament. Barring injury, he's likely the starter.
John Gibson, Kitchener (OHL)
Morreale says: At 6-foot-3 and 203 pounds, the Pittsburgh native offers the size and experience to get it done on the big stage. He's 12-5-0 with a 2.61 GAA and .930 save percentage in his first season in Kitchener.
Goaltender Andy Isles (Photo: Getty Images)
Kimelman says: He may be undersized at 5-foot-8.5 and 175 pounds, but plays a gritty, never-give-up style. Coach Dean Blais was highly impressed at summer camp in Lake Placid and said Iles could push Campbell for the starting job in Alberta.
Adam Clendening, Boston University (HE)
Kimelman says: The high-skill offensive-minded defenseman was very impressive at summer camp, and could be this team's Cam Fowler.
Derek Forbort, North Dakota (WCHA)
Morreale says: Blais will be seeking blue liners with smarts and he'd be hard-pressed to find one better than the agile 6-foot-5, 198-pound Forbort, who had a solid performance on last year's WJC team.
Stephen Johns, Notre Dame (CCHA)
Morreale says: A tough, rangy defender with excellent size (6-4, 230) and reach. Johns is a perfect complement for an offensive-type partner as he enjoys throwing his weight around to create time and space.
Seth Jones, USNTDP (USHL)
Kimelman says: This may be a tournament for 19-year-olds, but the 17-year-old blueliner -- and candidate for top pick for the 2013 NHL Draft -- oozes potential and was one of the best defensemen at the summer camp.
Scott Mayfield, Denver (WCHA)
Morreale says: With Faulk likely unavailable, it opens a slot for the mobile Mayfield. He offers a great shot and is good on the transition. He also has an edge to his game.
Jonathan Merrill, Michigan (CCHA)
Morreale says: Great on the transition, powerful shot and can quarterback the power-play. Merrill was Team USA's top scoring blueliner (five points in six games) at the 2011 WJC and could be counted on once again.
Defenseman Connor Murphy. (Courtesy: NTDP)
Kimelman says: A knee injury at the August camp has kept him out all season, but he's hoping to return by the middle of the month. If that's the case, he could attend camp, work off the rust and be 100 percent for the tournament.
Jarred Tinordi, London (OHL)
Kimelman says: He won't be an offensive threat, but he will provide the team with plenty of size and toughness. He'll likely anchor the top U.S. shutdown defense pair and will be in the running to be team captain.
Jacob Trouba, USNTDP (USHL)
Morreale says: The 2012 draft-eligible defender enjoys jumping into the play and rarely gets caught out of position. There's a good chanced Blais will keep just one under-age defender, meaning a tournament roster spot could be a battle between Trouba and Jones.
Kenny Agostino, Yale (ECAC)
Kimelman says: The offensive star of the August camp, the Penguins prospect has continued his scoring surge in NCAA play. If he's as hot in December as he was this past summer, he could earn a top-line spot in Alberta.
Bill Arnold, Boston College (HE)
Kimelman says: He showed he could use his skating to his advantage at summer camp, and has added a solid scoring touch with the Eagles this season, with 9 goals and 18 points in 16 games.
Nick Bjugstad, Minnesota (WCHA)
Morreale says: If there was ever a lock to make the final roster, Bjugstad might be it. He led the U.S. with two game-winners at the 2011 WJC and finished with 4 points in seven games for the bronze-medal winning Americans. He's scoring at nearly a 1.5-point-per-game clip this season.
Reid Boucher, Sarnia (OHL)
Morreale says: Consider the 5-9, 186-pound Boucher, who has a great release and accurate shot, as my surprise pick. He was great in the 2011 World Under-18 Championship, leading the U.S. with eight goals. He has 17 goals and 26 points in 28 games in his first OHL season.
Forward Charlie Coyle. (Photo: Getty Images)
Kimelman says: Arguably the best U.S. forward at the 2011 WJC, Coyle appears to be as much of a lock as Bjugstad to make the team. Expect his speed, skill and finish again to be showcased in Alberta.
Emerson Etem, Medicine Hat (WHL)
Kimelman says: A scoring machine in the Western Hockey League (28 goals in 31 games), Etem will bring good skating and a power forward's mentality to Team USA. He had a goal in six games for the U.S. last year in Buffalo, but more will be expected this year.
Brian Ferlin, Cornell (ECAC)
Kimelman says: A late Lake Placid camp invite, the Bruins prospect definitely made the most of his opportunity. He brought size and strength to one of the best lines of the camp, playing with Vincent Trocheck and Shane Prince.
Kevin Hayes, Boston College (HE)
Morreale says: While he might not set the world on fire offensively, Hayes is a skilled forward with plenty of enthusiasm and drive. He possesses the qualities that Blais craves, including puck control and the ability to weave through traffic to find the open spaces.
Stefan Matteau, USNTDP (USHL)
Morreale says: The top 2012 draft prospect and son of former New York Ranger Stephane Matteau, the 17-year-old forward is a big-bodied left wing who really can move. He's turning heads this season with his physical style and ability on the power play. While he might be a long-shot to make the tournament roster, it certainly wouldn't hurt to take a look.
Shane McColgan, Kelowna (WHL)
Morreale says: Looking for an offensive producer with fire in his veins? That's McColgan. After leading the Rockets in points last season, the speedster tops the team with 23 assists and 30 points in 27 games this season.
Forward J.T. Miller (Courtesy: NTDP)
Morreale says: The No. 15 pick of the 2011 Draft is a bruising forward with a nose for the net. He led Team USA with nine assists and 13 points at the 2011 World Under-18 Championship and has 11 goals and 36 points in 29 games in his first season with the Whalers.
Matthew Nieto, Boston University (HE)
Morreale says: Could be a top candidate for right wing on any line with his explosive game-breaking speed and skill set. The 6-foot, 190-pound college sophomore is a threat shorthanded and leads the Terriers with 16 points.
Stefan Noesen, Plymouth (OHL)
Morreale says: A skilled power forward with good size (6-1, 195), leadership traits and feistiness, the Texas native has 29 points in 25 games in his third season with the Whalers. He'd make a fine second- or third-line forward.
Shane Prince, Ottawa (OHL)
Kimelman says: The Ottawa Senators prospect could be the fastest skater on the team if he makes it. Usually plays in the middle, but he was used on the wing at the August camp and didn't miss a step.
Nicholas Shore, Denver (WCHA)
Morreale says: There's no reason to believe Blais won't pack as many big, talented centers on the tournament roster as possible, considering those players can slide to the wings. If that's the case, Shore, a solid two-way player with great instincts, is in the mix.
Vincent Trocheck, Saginaw (OHL)
Kimelman says: Showed off his great playmaking skills during the summer and has a style that allows him to [play with linemates possessing different skill sets. A speedy, pesky third line of Trocheck, Ferlin and Prince would give teams fits in Alberta.
Austin Watson, Peterborough (OHL)
Kimelman says: Watson could be Team USA's Mr. Versatility, with the ability to play any forward spot and anywhere in the lineup. His biggest contribution could be playing on a checking line and killing penalties.
Jason Zucker, Denver (WCHA)
Kimelman says: If Tinordi isn't the captain, it likely will be Zucker, who is bidding for his third straight WJC appearance. A scorer who also can check, he'll throw his body around and use his speed to make plays at both ends of the ice.
Follow Adam Kimelman on Twitter: @NHLAdamK; Follow Mike G. Morreale on Twitter at @mike_morreale