HomeNHLDon’t Count Out USA’s Medal Hopes at the World Championship Just Yet
Don’t Count Out USA’s Medal Hopes at the World Championship Just Yet
May 18, 2021
On paper, USA’s roster misses the pazazz it sometimes would on the males’s IIHF World Championship.
And, sure, the general expertise pool is way beneath what we normally see at this match. It will probably actually really feel like a street hockey draft at factors. However like we noticed with the 2018 Olympics, you do not want NHL stars to make a compelling worldwide hockey product. Shut the general expertise hole in a match of this measurement and you will not get a ton of stinkers on the market.
So if you take a look at Group USA, it undoubtedly would not look fairly. However only a few American groups over the previous 20 years have had a lot star energy to take care of, but sometimes discover a technique to give the highest groups some complications alongside the way in which.
Is that this time? Maybe, however they will want a fairly full effort to tug issues off this yr as a result of the roster is just not precisely ideally suited.
It is price noting that whereas USA is devoid of any celebrity expertise, 17 roster gamers skated in a minimum of one NHL sport this yr and practically all of them had been full-timers. Canada had 18 gamers meet that standards, however USA’s mark nonetheless beats most different groups within the match. IIHF expertise, although, is a special story. Of the 25 males named to the roster, 22 of them had by no means participated at this occasion.
The 2 huge names to observe up entrance are Dallas’ Jason Robertson and Arizona’s Conor Garland. Robertson was an apparent alternative for USA after an explosive rookie season, firmly placing himself into Calder Trophy consideration with 45 factors in 51 video games to complete behind Joe Pavelski in group scoring. Robertson performed a giant function on USA once they gained silver on the 2019 World Junior Championship however that is his first time with the massive boys.
Garland can also be coming off of a scorching season, tying his private season-high of 39 factors regardless of enjoying in 19 fewer video games. For a goal-starved Coyotes group, his 34 targets over the previous two seasons places him a objective behind Christian Dvorak for the group lead in that span regardless of enjoying 9 fewer video games. He and Robertson must be the group’s prime wingers, and given the massive roles they will have for this group – an actual medal contender – they will discover a technique to flourish.
Like Canada with Owen Energy, the Individuals are bringing a prime 2021 draft prospect in ahead Matthew Beniers – Energy’s teammate on the College of Michigan. Beniers’ NCAA rookie season was a real success with 24 factors in 24 video games and a gold medal run on the World Junior Championship with the Individuals. Beniers probably will skate within the backside half of the lineup and won’t even get into each sport as an 18-year-old, however his inclusion is critical. A superb outing may increase his draft inventory, doubtlessly pushing him nearer to No. 1 dialog because the draft’s prime ahead.
Probably the most intriguing place – and one which brings lots of comparisons to the 2013 group that gained bronze – is in web. The beginning goalie that yr was a man with lots of promise that spent the previous few years bouncing between the NHL and AHL – Ben Bishop. The backup was a future NHL starter in John Gibson, a younger netminder with such a vibrant future forward of him.
In a way, Cal Peterson is that this yr’s Bishop and the 2021 John Gibson is Jake Oettinger, Dallas’ future No. 1 – finally taking up Bishop’s job. Each Petersen and Oettinger are fairly younger however coming off of sturdy rookie runs, particularly Oettinger. Petersen turned LA’s beginning goalie this season and will get the majority of the motion, 4 years after serving as USA’s third goalie at this occasion. Petersen has spent his professional profession enjoying behind mediocre efforts, and whereas USA undoubtedly is not the highest group heading to Riga, he’ll have ample alternatives to win significant video games at a championship degree, one thing he hasn’t accomplished since junior hockey.
The actual wild card this yr is on the blueline, however that is a pattern tournament-wide. Do not be shocked if Zac Jones – a 20-year-old with 10 NHL video games to his credit score – is given heavy minutes on this group. Jones had an enormous NCAA season en path to profitable the championship with UMass and had a formidable 10-game stint with the Rangers to finish the season. He might not have a ton of professional expertise, however with the season he had, simply trip the momentum. Matt Roy will probably slide in beside him in his first outing with Group USA in any main worldwide occasion.
After that, the Individuals are going to want a little bit of luck alongside the way in which. The remainder of the protection core is made up of depth guys who’re probably getting a greater shot at ice time this yr than they will ever get once more, so it is an opportunity to essentially impress. Nonetheless, anticipate the Individuals to rely so much on their goaltenders as a result of this group would not precisely encourage confidence.
What do you have to make of this American group? Pace is a energy up entrance, the protection may have a “show individuals unsuitable” mentality and the goaltending must be strong. The lineup seems to be ugly at first look, however when you think about the truth that practically each group is tremendously impacted by the lack of high-quality expertise on account of COVID-19, it is not THAT unhealthy. Give it some thought: Finland had zero full-time NHLers once they took gold in 2019. Heck, take a look at USA’s roster in 2013 once they gained bronze.
There’s nonetheless a medal on the road. Nationwide satisfaction. It would not matter if they do not have the starpower. USA will do every part it might to win the championship and also you could be stunned simply how good this match may be with out all the massive names.