The United States has developed into one of the top hockey nations since winning the World Cup of Hockey in 1996, but it hasn't had a signature win in a best-on-best tournament since that 5-2 victory against Canada in Montreal.
The United States won the silver medal in two of the past five Olympics (2002 Salt Lake City, 2010 Vancouver) and the bronze medal three times at the IIHF World Championship (2004, 2013, 2015). It is coming off a disappointing 2014 Sochi Olympics, when it didn't score in losing to Canada in the semifinals (1-0) and to Finland in the bronze-medal game (5-0).
The Team USA roster for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey could look similar to the one it had in Sochi, with a few significant changes.
Here is what Team USA's roster could look like for the tournament, which will be held Sept. 17-Oct. 1, 2016, in Toronto (alphabetically by position):
Nick Bjugstad, Florida Panthers, C -- Bjugstad, who turned 23 in July, is rapidly and quietly developing into one of the top American-born centers. He had 24 goals and 43 points in 72 games in 2014-15, his second full NHL season. It was a bump of eight goals and five points despite playing in four fewer games than his rookie season. Bjugstad, at 6-foot-6, would provide size up the middle. He previously represented the United States at the 2013 IIHF World Championship and the World Junior Championship in 2011 and 2012.
Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay Lightning, C -- Johnson was an undrafted, barely known rookie who wasn't on the team when the United States finished fourth at the 2014 Olympics. Now he's one of the most difficult players to match up against in the NHL because of his speed, skill, tenacity and size (5-8, 183 pounds). The 25-year-old helped the Lightning reach the Stanley Cup Final last season, when he had 29 goals and 72 points in 77 regular-season games and 13 goals and 23 points in 26 Stanley Cup Playoff games. He could center one of the top two lines.
Ryan Kesler, Anaheim Ducks, C -- Kesler is a two-time Olympian (2010, 2014). He had 20 goals and 47 points in 81 games for the Ducks last season, and signed a six-year contract July 15 that will keep him with the Ducks through the 2021-22 season. The 31-year-old is a physical, in-your-face center who plays well in all areas. He won the Selke Trophy as the NHL's top defensive forward in 2011 and can play a scoring-line or checking-line role.
Paul Stastny, St. Louis Blues, C -- Stastny is a two-time Olympian who had two goals at the 2014 Olympics and three points at the 2010 Olympics. He struggled in 2014-15, his first season in St. Louis, in part because of a slow start caused by injury; he is expected to be one of the Blues' leaders and top players this season. The 29-year-old could play a top-six role on a scoring line or a bottom-six role on a checking line.
Derek Stepan, New York Rangers, C -- Stepan, 25, was a healthy scratch for most of the 2014 Olympics but should be an impact player for Team USA in the World Cup. He has improved in almost every area on a season-by-season basis, and he's coming off what arguably was the best season of his five-season NHL career, with 39 assists and 55 points in 68 games. But faceoffs are a problem; he won 44.1 percent last season.
Chris Kreider, New York Rangers, LW -- Kreider would give Team USA added elements of speed and power; he also has an underrated shot with a quick release. He scored 21 goals last season, and the Rangers expect him to take a run at 30 in 2015-16. Kreider, 24, could start the World Cup on the fourth line and finish on the first; he has that potential.
Max Pacioretty (Photo: Getty Images)
Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens, LW -- Pacioretty was fifth in the NHL with 37 goals last season and finished tied for first with Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning (Russia) with a plus-38 rating. He has 76 goals during the past two seasons, which is tied for the third-most in the League with Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks (Canada). He and Perry are tied for fourth-most goals the past three seasons with 91. Pacioretty, who turns 27 on Nov. 20, didn't score in five games at the 2014 Olympics.
Zach Parise, Minnesota Wild, LW -- Parise was the U.S. captain at the 2014 Olympics, where he struggled, scoring one goal in six games. There's a strong chance he could be captain or an alternate for Team USA. The 31-year-old has been one of the most consistent players in the NHL since 2006-07, averaging 34.14 goals per season in his past seven full seasons.
James van Riemsdyk, Toronto Maple Leafs, LW -- Van Riemsdyk, 26, has 57 goals the past two seasons, including 27 last season, playing primarily on a line with Phil Kessel, who had 62 in the same span. It's possible he and Kessel (now with the Pittsburgh Penguins) could be reunited on the same line for the World Cup; their line with center Joe Pavelski combined for 20 points, including seven (one goal, six assists) from van Riemsdyk, at the 2014 Olympics.
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks, RW -- Kane did not score a goal at the 2014 Olympics but had four assists. The 26-year-old could be the only three-time Stanley Cup champion on the Team USA roster. Kane had 27 goals and 64 points in 61 regular-season games last season; he missed the final 21 games because of a fractured clavicle. He returned in the playoffs and had 23 points to help the Blackhawks win the Cup.
Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh Penguins, RW -- Kessel, a two-time Olympian, led the United States with five goals, eight points and 21 shots on goal at the 2014 Olympics. The best pure scorer among U.S.-born players, the 27-year-old is a five-time 30-goal scorer, skates well, doesn't need much room to get off his shot, and is particularly dangerous off the rush. He was traded to the Penguins on July 1.
Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks, RW -- Pavelski, another two-time Olympian, is arguably the most versatile U.S.-born forward. He is listed as a right wing on this roster because the depth at center and left wing might force him to play on his strong side. The 31-year-old used his right-hand shot to score 78 goals in the past two seasons, most among U.S. players and second in the NHL behind the 104 scored by Alex Ovechkin (Russia).
Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets, RW -- Wheeler, 29, had a small role on the U.S. team at the 2014 Olympics, playing all six games but averaging 4:54 in ice time. There is no way to know if he'll have a bigger role at the World Cup, but he's trending up since the Olympics. He has 82 points in 101 games with the Jets since returning from Sochi, including 26 goals and 61 points in 79 games last season.
Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets -- Byfuglien, 30, was left off the 2014 Olympic roster and his shot from the point was missed; the United States was 3-for-16 on the power play, including 0-for-5 in shutout losses to Canada and Finland in its final two games. Byfuglien had 18 goals, including five on the power play, and 45 points in 69 games last season, when he switched back to defense after starting the season as a forward. His versatility should intrigue Team USA general manager Dean Lombardi.
John Carlson (Photo: Getty Images)
John Carlson, Washington Capitals -- Carlson is a right-handed shot and played at the 2014 Olympics, where he was paired with Brooks Orpik. The two are a pair for the Capitals, but Orpik did not make the cut on this roster, which leaves Carlson to play with the New York Rangers' Ryan McDonagh or the Minnesota Wild's Ryan Suter. Carlson, 25, last season tied for fifth in points (55) and for fourth in assists (43) among NHL defensemen.
Justin Faulk, Carolina Hurricanes -- Faulk, 23, was the seventh defenseman for the U.S. at the 2014 Olympics but could jump into the top six in this tournament. He had a 54.77 shot attempts percentage (SAT%) last season and a 3.94 SAT percentage relative to his team (SAT% Rel) during 5-on-5 play, which was ninth among the 60 defensemen who played at least 1,250 even-strength minutes, according to war-on-ice.com. He had 15 goals and 49 points while averaging 24:25 of ice time per game.
Nick Leddy, New York Islanders -- Leddy's skating is the reason he makes Team USA as the seventh defenseman. The 24-year-old is an elite puck-mover who had a breakout season with the Islanders. He had 27 assists and 37 points while averaging 20:21 of ice time per game. He also had a 55.75 SAT% and 4.50 SAT% Rel. at 5-on-5, according to war-on-ice.com. He made Team USA ahead of left-shot defenders Cam Fowler of the Ducks and Keith Yandle of the Rangers.
Ryan McDonagh, New York Rangers -- McDonagh, a left-shot, played on the right side of Suter at the 2014 Olympics, proving he can be effective on either side. That gives the Team USA coaching staff options: It can use McDonagh with Suter again or play him on the left side with a right-handed partner, which he has in New York with Dan Girardi. McDonagh, 26, had 25 assists and 33 points in 71 games last season.
Kevin Shattenkirk, St. Louis Blues -- Shattenkirk, a right-shot defender, could play on the right side of one of the top two pairs. He played a lot with Fowler at the 2014 Olympics. Shattenkirk had 36 assists and 44 points in 56 games last season, 20th among defensemen in scoring while tied for 156th in games played. The 26-year-old missed almost two months because of abdominal surgery.
Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild -- He played the left side on the top defense pair at the 2014 Olympics and should do so again at the 2016 World Cup. Suter, 30, is always among the NHL leaders in time on ice and he does so while maintaining a level of consistency befitting one of the top defensemen in the League. He had two goals and 38 points last season while leading the League with an average ice time of 29:03. He also had a 51.56 SAT% at 5-on-5, according to war-on-ice.
Ben Bishop (Photo: Scott Audette/NHLI)
Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay Lightning -- Bishop had back-to-back solid seasons for the Lightning, although 2013-14 was better than last season based on save percentage and goals-against average. Bishop had a .924 save percentage and 2.23 GAA in 2013-14; he had a .916 save percentage and 2.32 GAA last season. But last season the 28-year-old won 40 games and helped the Lightning reach the Stanley Cup Final with a .921 save percentage and 2.18 GAA in his first NHL postseason.
Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings -- Quick, 29, has more big-game experience than Cory Schneider of the New Jersey Devils and that could be the deciding factor in who goes into the tournament as the No. 1 goalie. Quick has won the Stanley Cup twice, was the No. 3 goalie for the United States at the 2010 Olympics and the starter at the 2014 Olympics, where he had a .923 save percentage and 2.17 GAA in five games. He made 36 saves in the 1-0 loss to Canada but allowed five goals on 29 shots in the 5-0 loss to Finland in the bronze-medal game.
Cory Schneider, New Jersey Devils -- Schneider, 29, has a chance to be the starter for Team USA with another strong season. He jumped into contention last season, when he had a 2.26 GAA and .925 save percentage in 69 games. Those numbers compare well to those of Quick, who had a 2.24 GAA and .918 save percentage in 72 games. Schneider's workload was tougher than Quick's despite playing 260 fewer minutes; Schneider faced 86 more shots than Quick (1,982) and allowed eight fewer goals (148).