Armed with eight returning players, eight first-round NHL draft picks and a few promising prospects eligible for future NHL drafts, USA Hockey on Monday announced its 30-player roster for a preliminary camp that will serve as the final tryout for the team that will represent the U.S. at the IIHF 2012 World Junior Championship.
TEAM USA SCHEDULE
The U.S. will play its preliminary-round games at Rexall Place in Edmonton. The medal round will be held at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary
Dec. 26 - U.S. vs. Denmark
Dec. 28 - U.S. vs. Finland
Dec. 30 - U.S. vs. Czech Republic
Dec. 31 - U.S. vs. Canada
Jan. 2 - Quarterfinals
Jan. 3 - Semifinals
Jan. 5 - Gold medal/bronze medal games
Team USA's training camp will take place Dec. 17-23 at the Edgeworth Centre in Camrose, Alta. The club also will play three exhibition games -- in Red Deer, Alta., against Russia on Dec. 20; in Camrose against Switzerland on Dec. 21; and in Three Hills, Alta., against Slovakia on Dec. 23.
The final 22-player roster for the tournament is expected to be announced Dec. 22.
Team USA followed its gold medal in Saskatoon at the 2010 WJC with the bronze medal last year in Buffalo, making it the first time in the 35-year history of the tournament that the U.S. has won medals in consecutive tournaments. They'll hope for a medal three-peat when the 2012 WJC is held Dec. 26 to Jan. 5, 2012 in Edmonton and Calgary.
The U.S. will play in Group B, along with Denmark, Finland, the Czech Republic and Canada. Group A will consist of Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovakia and Latvia.
Team USA General Manager Jim Johannson and coach Dean Blais announced the 30-player roster exclusively on NHL Network's Cisco NHL Live.
"This roster balances out very well," Johannson told NHL Live on Monday. "I think we have some guys who are exceptional offensive players and some other guys that have shown they are very hard to play against but can skate well and have a real strong defensive game. We're very excited to see what this group of players brings to camp."
Returning from last year's team are goalie Jack Campbell
of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL), defensemen Justin Faulk
of the Carolina Hurricanes
, Derek Forbort
of the University of North Dakota (WCHA) and Jonathon Merrill
of the University of Michigan (CCHA), along with forwards Nick Bjugstad
of the University of Minnesota (WCHA), Emerson Etem
of the Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL), Charlie Coyle
of Boston University (HE) and Jason Zucker
of the University of Denver (WCHA). Zucker also won a gold medal with the 2010 WJC team.
Faulk was named to the preliminary roster pending release by the Hurricanes. Cornell University's Andy Iles, who was the backup to Campbell at the 2011 WJC, is the team's emergency goaltender and will not attend the pre-tournament camp.
"We're hopeful [on Faulk]," Johannson said. "Carolina has been great. We've had other players in similar situations and it's always what works out best for the player. It's a win-win situation. If he plays in NHL, that's another another American playing in the league. If he's on our team, he'd been a great addition and bring a lot."
TEAM USA 2012 WJC CAMP ROSTER
-- Jack Campbell
, Sault Ste. Marie, OHL (Dallas); John Gibson
, Kitchener, OHL (Anaheim), *Andy Iles, Cornell University, ECAC (2012 draft eligible)
-- Adam Clendening
, Boston University, HE (Chicago); Justin Faulk
, Carolina, NHL; Derek Forbort
, North Dakota, WCHA (Los Angeles); Kevin Gravel
, St. Cloud State, WCHA (Los Angeles); Stephen Johns
, Notre Dame, CCHA (Chicago); Seth Jones, USNTDP U-18, USHL (2013 draft eligible); Austin Levi
, Plymouth, OHL (Carolina); Jonathon Merrill
, Michigan, CCHA (New Jersey); Jarred Tinordi
, London, OHL (Montreal); Jacob Trouba, USNTDP U-18, USHL (2012 draft eligible)
-- Kenny Agostino
, Yale, ECAC (Pittsburgh); Josh Archibald
, Nebraska-Omaha, WCHA (Pittsburgh); Bill Arnold
, Boston College, HE (Calgary); Nick Bjugstad
, Minnesota, WCHA (Florida); Connor Brickley
, Vermont, HE (Florida); Austin Czarnik
, Miami, CCHA (2012 draft eligible); Charlie Coyle
, Boston University, HE (Minnesota); Emerson Etem
, Medicine Hat, WHL (Anaheim); Brian Ferlin
, Cornell, ECAC (Boston); John Gaudreau
, Boston College, HE (Calgary); J.T. Miller
, Plymouth, OHL (N.Y. Rangers); Shane Prince
, Ottawa, OHL (Ottawa); Kyle Rau
, Minnesota, WCHA (Florida); Brandon Saad
, Saginaw, OHL (Chicago); T.J. Tynan, Notre Dame, CCHA (Columbus); Austin Watson
, Peterborough, OHL (Nashville); Jason Zucker
, Denver, WCHA (Minnesota).
* Emergency backup, will not attend camp.
Campbell, who has worn the U.S. sweater in the last two WJC tournaments, was voted the Most Outstanding Goalie of the 2011 WJC after going 4-1-1 with a 1.70 goals-against average and .941 save percentage.
"Jack brings confidence and continues to push himself," Johannson said. "His compete level is like a Mike Richter
. He doesn't want a puck to get by him whether practice or a game."
He went 1-1-1 with a 2.54 GAA and .923 save percentage in three games in 2010, but is best remembered for coming off the bench in place of starter Mike Lee 3:56 into the second period of the gold-medal game against Canada and making 32 saves on 34 shots to backstop the U.S. to the gold medal.
The U.S. roster also is full of recent first-round draftees. J.T. Miller
was taken by the New York Rangers
with the 15th pick of the 2011 Entry Draft. Campbell (No. 11, Dallas), Forbort (No. 15, Los Angeles), forward Austin Watson
(No. 18, Nashville), Bjugstad (No. 19, Florida), Tinordi (No. 22, Montreal), Coyle (No. 28, San Jose/traded to Minnesota) and Etem (No. 29, Anaheim) all were taken in the first round of the 2010 draft.
Sixteen NHL teams will have at least one prospect at the camp, led by three each from the Florida Panthers
(Bjugstad, University of Vermont forward Connor Brickley
and University of Minnesota forward Kyle Rau
) and the Chicago Blackhawks
(Johns, Saginaw forward Brandon Saad
and Boston University defenseman Adam Clendening
). The Anaheim Ducks
, Carolina Hurricanes
, Los Angeles Kings
, Pittsburgh Penguins
, Calgary Flames
, and Minnesota Wild
will have two prospects each.
There are two promising 2012 NHL Draft prospects invited to camp, defenseman Jacob Trouba of the U.S. National Team Development Program's under-18 team (USHL) and forward Austin Czarnik
of Miami University (CCHA). Additionally, top 2013 draft prospect Seth Jones, a defenseman with the USNTDP U-18 team, earned an invite.
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale