Forward Kieffer Bellows, a top prospect for the 2016 NHL Draft, was one of three players cut from the U.S. roster for the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship, USA Hockey announced Saturday.
Bellows, a 6-foot, 196-pound left wing, leads USA Hockey's National Team Development Program Under-18 team with 24 goals in 27 games and is second with 40 points. He received an A rating from NHL Central Scouting in its November players to watch list.
Also released from the team were two other 2016 draft prospects, goaltender Tyler Parsons and defenseman Casey Fitzgerald.
Parsons, who plays for London in the Ontario Hockey League, ranks among the top five in the OHL in wins (19, second), goals-against average (2.46, fourth) and save percentage (.917, fourth). He has a B rating on the November players to watch list.
Fitzgerald (5-10, 186), a freshman defenseman at Boston College, has two goals and nine assists in 16 games. He earned a C rating in the November players to watch list.
In addition, USA Hockey announced goaltender Luke Opilka will not travel with the team to Finland for training camp in Vierumaki, Finland, from Dec. 20-24 because of an illness.
"Head coach Ron Wilson has brought a high level of intensity to camp and as a staff we have been very pleased with the attitude shown by the players," said Jim Johannson, general manager of the 2016 U.S. National Junior Team and also the assistant executive director of hockey operations for USA Hockey. "As our players keep melding together, our staff will continue evaluating which players fit best into the framework and style of play our coaching staff expects us to have for this tournament."
Among those remaining with the team are eight players eligible for the 2016 draft, including center Auston Matthews, expected to be the first player selected. Also still in camp are defensemen Chad Krys and Charles McAvoy, and forwards Alexander DeBrincat, Scott Eansor, Ryan Hitchcock, Clayton Keller and Matthew Tkachuk. All but Eansor and Hitchcock are A-rated players in Central Scouting's November players to watch list.
The 2016 WJC runs Dec. 26 to Jan. 5, 2016, in Helsinki. The U.S. opens play Dec. 26 against Canada, the defending gold medalists.
A final tournament roster must be named by Dec. 24.
U.S. WJC CAMP ROSTER
GOALTENDERS: Brandon Halverson, Sault Ste. Marie, OHL (New York Rangers); Alex Nedeljkovic, Plymouth, OHL (Carolina Hurricanes)
DEFENSEMEN: Louis Belpedio, Miami University, NCHC (Minnesota Wild); William Borgen, St. Cloud State University (Buffalo Sabres); Brandon Carlo, Tri-City, WHL (Boston Bruins); Ryan Collins, University of Minnesota, BIG 10 (Columbus Blue Jackets); Brandon Fortunato, Boston University, H-EAST; Chad Krys, USNTDP, USHL (2016 draft eligible); Charles McAvoy, USNTDP, USHL (2016 draft eligible); Zachary Werenski, University of Michigan, BIG 10 (Columbus Blue Jackets)
FORWARDS: Anders Bjork, University of Notre Dame, H-EAST (Boston Bruins); Brock Boeser, University of North Dakota, NCHC (Vancouver Canucks); Alexander DeBrincat, Erie, OHL (2016 draft eligible); Ryan Donato, Harvard University, ECAC (Boston Bruins); Christian Dvorak, London, OHL (Arizona Coyotes); Scott Eansor, Seattle, WHL (2016 draft eligible); Ryan Hitchcock, Yale University, ECAC (2016 draft eligible); Clayton Keller, USNTDP, USHL (2016 draft eligible); Auston Matthews, Zurich, SUI (2016 draft eligible); Ryan MacInnis, Kitchener, OHL (Arizona Coyotes); Sonny Milano, Lake Erie, AHL (Columbus Blue Jackets); Nick Schmaltz, University of North Dakota, NCHC (Chicago Blackhawks); Matthew Tkachuk, London, OHL (2016 draft eligible); Colin White, Boston College, H-EAST (Ottawa Senators)