In part one, I examined the depths of Team Canada’s upcoming World Junior entry and what to expect from its top prospects. Now, let’s turn Canada’s neighbours (or is it neighbors?) to the south and highlight USA’s top talents. Unlike Canada’s nearly uncontested roster decisions, USA Hockey received loads of criticism surrounding its selections after leaving off highly touted prospects like Jeremy Bracco (Toronto Maple Leafs/Kitchener Rangers), Kyle Connor (Winnipeg Jets/University of Michigan), Jack Roslovic [Winnipeg Jets/Miami University (Ohio)], Alex Tuch (Minnesota Wild/Boston College) and Conor Garland (Arizona Coyotes/Moncton Wildcats) off of their selection camp roster. There’s little doubt that any and probably all of these exclusions would have been impact players on Team USA; however, it is a testament to the nation’s great depth that it is able to fill out their roster and not have room for these great talents.
With that said, here are the Americans to key in on over the next few weeks.
Auston Matthews (2016 NHL Draft) was a household name on USA’s 2015 World Junior team as many anticipated the arrival of the unanimous number one ranked prospect for the upcoming NHL draft. Playing in Switzerland, Matthews has established himself as an impact player at the pro-level as an 18-year-old and will surely be the dynamic center USA builds it’s team around in Helskinki. He’s got all the coveted tools in a pro prospect including great size, smart hockey sense and a combination of grit and skill that franchise pivots are built around. There’s little doubt that Matthews is expected to be a World Junior top performer.
Matthew Tkachuk (2016 NHL Draft) is the second of eight potential 2016 draft eligible selections on Team USA and he’s slated to become a Top 5 pick when it’s all said and done. The son of former NHLer Keith Tkachuk, Matt is playing with the London Knights and currently leads the league in assists (45) as a first-year player. He’s an old pal of Auston Matthews from his NTDP days so it’s expected that he will line up next to the star pivot with OHL sniper Alex DeBrincat on