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World Juniors

Caufield among players to watch for U.S. at World Juniors selection camp

Canadiens forward prospect one of four players from Wisconsin trying to make team

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

PLYMOUTH, Michigan -- Cole Caufield, selected by the Montreal Canadiens with the No. 15 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft will be among the spotlight players when USA Hockey holds selection camp to determine the United States roster for the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship.

The camp, which will include 15 forwards, 10 defensemen and three goalies, will be held Monday and Tuesday at USA Hockey Arena before shifting to Ostrava, Czech Republic from Dec. 20-23. The U.S. will play exhibition matches against Sweden on Dec. 22 and Germany on Dec. 23. The final 23-man roster is expected to be finalized after the second exhibition game.

John Vanbiesbrouck, the U.S. National Junior Team general manager, said it's unlikely cuts will be made in Plymouth.

"We're going to bring 28 players over to Czech Republic and utilize everyone in the exhibition games," he said.

That includes Caufield, who leads NCAA Division I freshmen in goals (12) and points (20) in his first season at the University of Wisconsin and leads all college players with 79 shots on goal.

Caufield is one of four players from Wisconsin that will be at the camp, along with forward Alex Turcotte (Los Angeles Kings) and defensemen Ty Emberson (Arizona Coyotes) and K'Andre Miller (New York Rangers).

"I'm not surprised (with his production in college)," Vanbiesbrouck said of Caufield. "He's probably hit the post 65 times too. I've never seen a player hit the post more than Cole, but I think there's more to it than just him scoring. He makes the right plays with the puck, but the part I like with all the ups and downs of scoring, and scoring can be streaky, is he always has a smile on his face and he loves to play the game."

The 2020 WJC will be held in Ostrava and Trinec, Czech Republic from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5, 2020. The United States, which finished second in the 2019 WJC, is in Group B for the preliminary round along with Canada, Russia, Czech Republic and Germany, and will play its games at Ostravar Arena in Ostrava. Group A consists of 2019 WJC champion Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, Slovakia and Kazakhstan, and will play at Werk Arena in Trinec.

"The group has leadership, and I think we're strong from the net out," Vanbiesbrouck said. "We like the [defensemen] group, as far as what each guy can bring, so we're going to hopefully compete ourselves into playing in the (championship) game."

The U.S. will be coached by Scott Sandelin, who is in his 20th season as coach of the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Here are five things to watch heading into select camp:



Packing some offensive flair

It'll be interesting to see if Sandelin opts to have Wisconsin teammates Caufield and Turcotte, chosen by the Los Angeles Kings with the No. 5 pick in the 2019 Draft, on the same line during selection camp. They are linemates in college and have combined for 35 points (18 goals, 17 assists). Turcotte also leads Wisconsin with 10 power-play points (four goals, six assists) and Caufield is second with nine (five goals, four assists).


Calling a captain

There is no timetable to selecting a captain, but Vanbiesbrouck said Sandelin and his staff likely will look to the returning players to make up the leadership group, as has been the case in the past. Goalie Spencer Knight (Florida Panthers) is one of four players at selection camp who helped the United States finish second at the 2019 WJC. In addition to Knight, Harvard University forward Jack Drury (Carolina Hurricanes), Western Michigan University defenseman Mattias Samuelsson (Buffalo Sabres) and Miller are the other returning players.


A Knight in goal

Knight enters selection camp as the projected No. 1 goalie for the U.S. at the World Juniors, but he'll receive plenty of competition from Isaiah Saville (Vegas Golden Knights) of the University of Nebraska Omaha in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference and Dustin Wolf (Calgary Flames) of Everett in the Western Hockey League. Vanbiesbrouck confirmed all three goalies will be on the tournament team.

Knight was the third goalie for the 2019 WJC and didn't play in any of the seven games. He said the experience he gained was great and it motivated him entering his first college season. He's 11-4-0 with a 1.73 goals-against average, .940 save percentage and four shutouts in 15 games.

"I think with Knight, Saville and Wolf, we have three strong goalies and it's always good to have a competition and there will be a little bit of that," Vanbiesbrouck said. "I do like what Spencer brings. I think his maturity and calmness in goal are evident, and he's very big and can move. I have a great admiration for him and his abilities."




First-round finds

Eight players picked in the first round of the NHL Draft will be at camp: Knight; defensemen Miller, Ryan Johnson (Buffalo Sabres, No. 31, 2019) and Cameron York (Philadelphia Flyers, No. 14, 2019); and forwards Caufield, Turcotte, Trevor Zegras (Anaheim Ducks, No. 9, 2019) and John Beecher (Boston Bruins, No. 30, 2019).

"[Miller] is a big presence and I've really seen an improvement in his game," Vanbiesbrouck said of the 19-year-old defenseman. "He's being aggressive and taking a step forward, and with that reach, strength and his power, he can really keep plays in, keep plays alive."


Waiting on Wahlstrom

Forward Oliver Wahlstrom (New York Islanders), who has nine points (three goals, six assists) in 18 games for Bridgeport of the American Hockey League, could be a late addition to the U.S. for the World Juniors, if the Islanders release him for the tournament.

"We wouldn't want to go up against the deadline (Dec. 24) because it's too tough on the other players who have sacrificed to that point," Vanbiesbrouck said. "Optimally it would be nice to get him into a couple of exhibition games prior to playing because we need some continuity in these games. He's playing pro hockey and that comes first for the Islanders. We've had clear communication with the Islanders and with Bridgeport and (for now) we're going to leave a spot open for Wahlstrom."



GOALIES: Spencer Knight, Boston College, HE, (Florida Panthers); Isaiah Saville, Nebraska-Omaha, NCHC (Vegas Golden Knights); Dustin Wolf, Everett, WHL (Calgary Flames)

DEFENSEMEN: Ty Emberson, Wisconsin, BIG10 (Arizona Coyotes); Jordan Harris, Northeastern, HE (Montreal Canadiens); Ryan Johnson, Minnesota, BIG10 (Buffalo Sabres); Zachary Jones, UMass, HE (New York Rangers); Christian Krygier, Michigan State, BIG10 (New York Islanders); K'Andre Miller, Wisconsin, BIG10 (New York Rangers); Alec Regula, London, OHL (Chicago Blackhawks); Mattias Samuelsson, Western Michigan, NCHC (Buffalo Sabres); Spencer Stastney, Notre Dame, BIG10 (Nashville Predators); Cameron York, Michigan, BIG10 (Philadelphia Flyers)

FORWARDS: John Beecher, Michigan, BIG10 (Boston Bruins); Bobby Brink, Denver, NCHC (Philadelphia Flyers); Cole Caufield, Wisconsin, BIG10 (Montreal Canadiens); Jack Drury, Harvard, ECAC (Carolina Hurricanes); Parker Ford, Providence, HE (2020 draft eligible); Jonathan Gruden, London, OHL (Ottawa Senators); Curtis Hall, Yale, ECAC (Boston Bruins); Trevor Janicke, Notre Dame, BIG10 (Anaheim Ducks); Arthur Kaliyev, Hamilton, OHL (Los Angeles Kings); Robert Mastrosimone, Boston University, HE (Detroit Red Wings); Shane Pinto, North Dakota, NCHC (Ottawa Senators); Jacob Pivonka, Notre Dame, BIG10 (New York Islanders); Nicholas Robertson, Peterborough, OHL (Toronto Maple Leafs); Alex Turcotte, Wisconsin, BIG10 (Los Angeles Kings); Trevor Zegras, Boston University, HE (Anaheim Ducks)

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