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Team USA WCOH Spotlight: The Forwards

by Andy Brown / Columbus Blue Jackets

If you haven't yet heard, the World Cup of Hockey makes its return in September after a 12-year absence. Team USA will hold its pre-tournament training camp (and exhibition game against Canada on Sept. 9) in Columbus at Nationwide Arena, and to get you properly prepared, we're breaking down the American roster.

On tap: the forwards.

Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella leads Team USA into this World Cup, featuring a group of American-born players who can do a little but of everything. To get you up to speed on who you can expect to see lacing it up for the stars and stripes, we’re going to give you a position-by-position look.

Click HERE for Team USA's Training Camp Practice Schedule

Brandon Dubinsky | Columbus Blue Jackets
Dubinsky is the second Blue Jacket skating for the Stars and Stripes in this World Cup, along with defenseman Jack Johnson. Since the Alaska native was traded to Columbus from the New York Rangers in 2012, he has consistently produced at a top-six forward rate (around 40 points per season) and been a solid two-way presence who plays in all situations. This will be his third time representing the United States, having played for the U.S. in the IIHF World Championships in 2008 and 2010.

Patrick Kane | Chicago Blackhawks
Kane has always been a great player and one of the league's top offensive threats, but he somehow got even better this past season. He was the best offensive player in the NHL in 2015-16, leading the league in points with 106 and taking home the Hart Trophy for his dominant performance. He has made the All-Star team in all but one of his nine years in the league, and figures to be the Americans' go-to offensive weapon in the World Cup, as he has been on two Olympic teams in 2010 and 2014.

Justin Abdelkader | Detroit Red Wings
It took him a few years to get the ball rolling, but in the last two seasons of Abdelkader’s nine-year career (all spent in Detroit), he's broken through for 44 and 42 points, respectively. He’s also not afraid to play an aggressive, physical style, posting a career high in penalty minutes with 120 last season. Abdelkader has international experience under his belt, having played in two IIHF World Championships in 2012 and 2014. Look for him to be a net-front presence at even strength and on the power play for Team USA.

Ryan Kesler | Anaheim Ducks
Having finished in the top 10 for Selke Trophy voting six times in his career (and winning it in 2010-11), Kesler is widely regarded as one of the top two-way forwards in the league. During the 10 seasons in which he has played in at least 48 games, he has averaged a steady 53.4 points per season. He has played in one IIHF World Championship and two Olympic games, and figures to be one of the catalysts for an American team that needs to be play an uptempo, simple game to have success.

T.J. Oshie | Washington Capitals
After seven seasons in St. Louis, Oshie was traded to the Capitals last summer, and he promptly set a new career high for goals in a season with 26. He rode that wave of success into the Stanley Cup playoffs, where he racked up 10 points in 12 games, and scored a game-winning goal in overtime against the Penguins in Game 1 of their second round series. He last represented the U.S. in the 2014 Olympics (you may have heard about his shootout performance against Sergei Bobrovsky and Team Russia).

Zach Parise | Minnesota Wild
After spending the first seven years of his career in New Jersey, Parise signed with his hometown team in Minnesota, where he has continued to build on his stellar career. The seven-time All-Star has been a consistent scorer and distributor no matter who he’s playing for, posting a career high in points with 94 in 2008-09 and crossing the threshold of 60 points six times thus far. Parise is also a two-time Olympian (2010, 2014).

Joe Pavelski | San Jose Sharks
Pavelski is a two-time Olympian, and won a silver medal for the US in the 2010, and his career has been filled with highlights. Though he had hit the ground running in the first seven years of his career, 2013-14 was particularly good to Pavelski, who put up career highs in goals and points with 41 and 79, respectively. This past season, he led the NHL in game-winning goals with 11, and helped take the Sharks to their first Stanley Cup Final with four game-winners in the playoffs.

Derek Stepan | New York Rangers
Stepan has spent the entirety of his six-year career with the Rangers, and been a consistent distributor since he broke into the league in 2011-12. He has dished out over 30 assists in four of the last five seasons, with the only exception to that rule coming in the lockout-shortened season of 2012-13. He last represented the U.S. in the 2014 Olympics.

Blake Wheeler | Winnipeg Jets
Coming off a stretch of three 60-point seasons only interrupted by a shortened 2012-13 slate, Wheeler took things a step further this year, putting up 78 points along with 52 assists, with both stats good for sixth in the NHL. The former No. 5 overall pick has been an All-Star in each of the last four seasons, and, like many of his teammates, will be representing the U.S. for the first time since the 2014 Olympics. He was named captain of the Jets in late August.

Kyle Palmieri | New Jersey Devils
A native of New Jersey (Smithtown), Palmieri spent his first season with the Devils in 2015-16 and instantly became one of their top players. He scored 30 goals and totaled 57 points last season - both establishing new career highs - and his point total was the highest on the team (prior to last year, Palmieri's previous career-best point total was 31, set in 2013-14). Palmieri has represented the U.S. four times in international competition and medaled three times.

James van Riemsdyk | Toronto Maple Leafs
Steadiness has been somewhat hard to come by for van Riemsdyk since he was drafted second overall by the Flyers in the 2007 Draft. But after three years in Philadelphia, he found his footing a bit in Toronto. He has put up two 50+ point seasons in the two full years he has played there, and is no stranger to international competition, having been an Olympian in 2014 with Team USA.

David Backes | Boston Bruins
Backes has been a model of consistency from the start of his 10-year career, which he had spent all of in St. Louis prior to signing with Boston this offseason. He has finished with over 100 penalty minutes and over 50 points five times in his career, each. And in his longest playoff run as a member of the Blues last season, Backes posted a 7-7-14 line in 20 games. He has been an Olympian twice, playing for the U.S. in 2010 and 2014.

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