After three games in the 2016 IIHF World Championships, the United States’ record is 1-2. With a team full of young NHL players and some college players, they are unable to compete with the best teams in the tournament like Canada and Finland. Players like Auston Matthews, Nick Foligno and Dylan Larkin are the three best players on the USA roster. If you are to look at the Canadian roster, you have NHL stars like Corey Perry, Matt Duchene, Connor McDavid and Max Domi. Other than Domi and McDavid, the other two players have strong NHL experience and will presumably lead the Canadians to a medal. If the higher-ups at USA Hockey want fans to pay attention to this tournament, they need to send better teams to compete. Here is a look at an improved USA World Championship roster.
Current USA Roster
Here are projected lines for Team USA vs. FIN today at 1:15pmET. #2016MWC
— USA Hockey (@usahockey) May 9, 2016
The United States currently has two NHL backup goaltenders and a college goaltender in Thatcher Demko. Keith Kinkaid and Mike Condon have split the games so far and Demko hasn’t gotten any ice time. The three young goaltenders have played well for the United States but there are several American goalies who could be brought in as well. Cory Schneider and Craig Anderson are two goaltenders that could have been brought on to improve the USA roster. The American goaltender pool is small so USA Hockey only has so much they can do with the guys between the pipes.
Starting with the USA defense, the first problem is Connor Murphy is the most experienced NHL defenseman on the roster. A player with barely over two years of NHL experience leads the defensive core. Behind him are players with one year or less in the NHL. One of them, Steve Santini, has one game in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils after leaving Boston College. Because of the lack of experience, the United States defense has committed several mistakes that can’t happen in a tournament like the World Championship. There are many players that the USA could have asked to come to the tournament, and below is a list of players who either didn’t make it to the playoffs or were knocked out that the USA could have at least considered.
All of those players have either missed or were knocked out of the playoffs. Even if the United States were to get half of those players, their defensive core would be solid enough to compete and possibly be in contention for a medal. They could potentially have the captain of the New York Rangers in McDonagh, a Calder Trophy candidate in Gostisbehere and the defenseman with the most points on the Boston Bruins in Krug.
The offensive core for the United States isn’t as young as the defensive core but they still have three players who have never played a game in the National Hockey League. University of Michgan hockey is well represented on the USA roster with former and present players. Three players who played this season for the Wolverines are on the roster for the Red, White and Blue. J.T. Compher, a prospect of the Colorado Avalanche, Tyler Motte (Blackhawks) and Kyle Connor (Winnipeg) are all a part of this year’s USA team.
Along with those three, Auston Matthews has made his presence known on the United States roster. Although he hasn’t played a game in the NHL yet, in 36 games for the ZSC Lions of the Swiss National League A, Matthews had 24 goals and 22 assists. NHL talent includes the likes of Dylan Larkin and Nick Foligno, both solid players and players who were the top of their teams in points during the regular season.
Below is a list of NHL players that could be considered by the USA Hockey staff:
James van Riemsdyk
Stepan had a career year in goals for the New York Rangers and Ryan had the most points he’s had in the three years he’s played for the Ottawa Senators. Just having those two on the USA roster would improve the center ice position tenfold. Saad also had a career year scoring 31 goals and earning 22 assists for the Columbus Blue jackets. Just adding a few more of the higher caliber NHL players could improve the United States roster significantly.
Obviously the United States has elected to bring a younger roster to Russia for the World Championships and with the World Cup of Hockey coming in September, it seems that is the bigger tournament for USA Hockey.
There is nothing wrong with sending a younger roster to the World Championships but if the U.S. wants more people to take this tournament seriously they need to send a more competitive roster. Just look at the Canadian and Russian rosters, full of NHL and KHL talent. With this year’s World Championship team being this young, USA hockey fans will have to look to the World Cup of Hockey for a star-studded roster.