USA Hockey just announced its Under-18 roster for next month's World Under-18 tourney in Germany.
You can read the release here, and we'll be back later to update the blog with analysis on the roster players and what they bring to the table.
In the meantime, you can go back and read up on some of the guys who were featured in the U.S. Juniors regular season recap we posted to this blog last week.
The Americans have won the last two Under-18 championships played in the U.S. (North Dakota) and Belarus and if they capture the 2011 gold, it will be the first time ever that the U.S. has won three consecutive U18s.
The exhibition games begin April 9 and Team USA kicks off the tourney against Switzerland on Thursday, April 14.
This tournament is big because NHL teams use it as the final international yardstick by which to measure players who aren't in the CHL (excepting those whose teams did not make the playoffs or who get eliminated early). Every year it seems, there are several kids who have a knockout Under-18 and send their stock through the roof. Last year, Big Jack Campbell was the man for Team USA, but that entire defense corps it seemed launched it as a springboard to draft greatness as Derek Forbort and Jarred Tinordi both ended up in the first round while Justin Faulk and Jon Merrill were early second-round selections.
This year's Team USA entry doesn't have as dominant a defense, but is a solid group, has excellent goaltending and have some highly skilled forwards who can put the puck in the net and play efficiently in all zones.Tyler Biggs and Rocco Grimaldi headline the Team USA forwards who are expected to be first-round picks in June, but there are many other noteworthy players up and down the roster who warrant a closer look. Alex Galchenyuk is a curious omission from the roster as one of the more skilled and talented '94s available- we hope this doesn't drive him into the arms of the waiting Russians.
We'll be back with more insights on some of the individuals who didn't get as much coverage last week when we recapped the USHL, so be sure to stop back by this evening.
Also, check out Chris Peters' United States of Hockey blog, as a former media relations professional with the U.S. NTDP, he knows the program and these kids inside and out. He's already got his take up, so it's very nice reading until we can get our own recap up.