The argument of USA Hockey refusing to invite CHL players to their u20 selection camp is no longer valid, as it seems that, they too are focusing on solely inviting players to their camp that they feel deserve to be there. In years past, USA Hockey has been guilty of not inviting CHL players to play for them as a way of trying to get more players to choose the NCAA route instead. However, this year all of the goaltenders are from the OHL alone with a total of 11 invited CHLers.
It became very evident last night that USA Hockey doesn’t believe that Jeremy Bracco deserves to be in contention. Some have argued that the fact that Bracco left the NCAA after just a few weeks for the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers showed a lack of commitment however, he’s simply too good to not have at camp at least. Bracco had 122 assists in his National Team Development Program career, far surpassing Patrick Kane’s assist totals. In the 2013-2014 season he led the NTDP u17 team in scoring with 68 points, and led the USA u17 team to Gold at the 2014 World Hockey Challenge. In 2014-2015 he played for the NTDP u18 team, finishing third in scoring on the team behind phenom, and current European pro, Austin Matthews and London Knights forward Matthew Tkachuk. He helped USA win Gold at the IIHF u18 tournament by assisting on Colin White’s game-winner.
“It doesn’t really make sense to me” – Jeremy Bracco
After having been invited to camp last year, as one of two under-age players, and being among the final cuts, it was expected that Bracco would at least garner an invite to camp on that merit alone. Since joining Kitchener, he has 18 points in 15 games. By any standards, that is be very good and worthy of an invite. His vision, ability to distribute the puck and experience with the National Development Team would have been a huge advantage to the American roster. It really doesn’t make sense to me either, Jeremy.
Bracco wasn’t the only notable omission from the preliminary roster. High-calibre American players like Alex Tuch, Jack Roslovic and Kyle Connor were all players expected to be given a serious look that will find themselves spending Christmas at home this year. Tuch and Connor were, perhaps, the most surprising out of those three. Tuch hasn’t had the greatest season but, team’s generally prefer to have experienced players in this tournament, especially when it’s going to be played on a bigger ice surface. Tuch would have provided that. Additionally, Connor has been playing well above expectations at the University of Michigan with 12 points in his first 11 games.
USA Hockey has so many deep players available to them this year that good players were bound to be left off their selection camp roster but, it seems as though they left off players that could have had a serious impact on an already deep group of forwards. Overall, it seems like many who closely follow NCAA do not feel that the American defense is as strong as it has been in years past. One even went so far as to call it “sketchy as hell”. I’m not sure I’d consider it be sketchy but, I don’t get paid to watch hockey just yet. Their goalies seem strong enough, I’d expect that Nedeljkovic and Halverson will be their main goalies come Boxing Day with Parsons and Opilka competing for the final goalie position.
For the full USA Preliminary Roster
Despite Bracco not being invited to USA Hockey’s u20 selection camp, the Leafs could be represented by two Scandinavian countries on Boxing Day. Dmytro Timashov (Quebec Remparts) and William Nylander have been invited by Sweden and Kasperi Kapanen is slated to play for hosts Finland. Kapanen and Nylander’s situation is much different than that of almost every other player in the tournament. Since they were drafted out of European leagues, rather than the CHL, they are eligible to play in the AHL before they turn 20 years of age. Their contracts stipulate that, if they aren’t playing the NHL at the time of this tournament, the decision to play is left up to the player and their national governing body, rather than the NHL team they’re under contract with. Kapanen and Nylander are virtual locks to make their respective teams. It’s believed that Timashov would have to have a horrible camp in order to be left off the Swedish team, as he’s currently sitting at 5th in QMJHL scoring with 51 points in 28 games.
Full Swedish Preliminary Roster
Full Finnish Preliminary Roster