2023 World Juniors: Team USA Final Roster Instant Reaction
USA Hockey announced the players who will be part of the roster that will compete at the 2023 International Ice Hockey Federation Junior World Championships, which will be held May 26 in Halifax, Nova Scotia and Moncton, New Brunswick. Team USA will bring 25 players to the tournament, but can only register 23 in the active lineup at a time.
The USA initially invited 32 players to their pre-tournament camp and reduced it to 25 on Friday afternoon. The World Juniors have a new roster rule this year, allowing each team to qualify up to 25 players for the tournament. However, you can only register a maximum of 23 as indicated before. A player on the roster can be replaced at any time with one of the additional players, but once a player on the 23-man roster is substituted, that player cannot return to the tournament. Last year 25 players could be registered and were interchangeable, but the IIHF is returning to something similar to the old roster rules, which used to be a fixed 23-player limit.
As a result, the US has the 25 players they will take to Canada. Here’s the full list of who made it, who got cut and some instant reactions to the full squad.
Trey Augustine, USA U18 National Team (eligible in 2023), Kaidan Mbereko, Colorado College (not drafted), Andrew Oke, Saginaw Spirit (not drafted)
👀 @kaidanmbereko30#WorldJuniors pic.twitter.com/FZsXnfdTq6
– USA Hockey (@usahockey) December 12, 2022
Sean Behrens, Denver (COL); Seamus Casey, Michigan (NJD); Ryan Chesley, Minnesota (WSH); Luke Hughes, Michigan (NJD); Lane Hutson, Boston University (MTL); Luke Mittelstadt, Minnesota (not drafted); Jack Peart, State of St. Cloud (MIN); Ryan Ufko, UMass (NSH).
Jackson Blake, North Dakota (Auto); Gavin Brindley, Michigan (eligible in 2023); Tyler Boucher, Ottawa 67s (OTT); Kenny Connors, UMass (LAK); Logan Cooley, Minn. (ARI); Dylan Duke, Mich. (TBL); Schneider Gauthier, Boston College (PHI); Noah Laba, Colorado College (NYR); Sam Lipkin, Quinnipiac (ARI); Chaz Lucius, Manitoba Moose (WPG); Rutger McGroarty, Michigan (WPG); Red Savage, Miami (DET); Jimmy Snuggerud, Minnesota (STL); Charlie Stramel, Wisconsin (eligible in 2023)
Team USA took to the tracks after practice today for some team bonding fun!
Even in today #WorldJuniors Insider → Meet this year’s Gear Managers and what it takes to bring home the gold.
– USA Hockey (@usahockey) December 16, 2022
First cuts: Aidan Hreschuk, Boston College (CBJ); Cam Lund, North East (SJS); Will Smith, USA national under-18 team (eligible in 2023)
Final Cuts: Shai Buium, Denver (DET); Jack Devine, Denver (FLA); Ryan Leonard, USA national under-18 team (eligible in 2023); Tyler Muskelik, UNH (FLA).
The US had a clear mandate from the start. They want to play fast, they want to change pucks and they always want to be on the attack. As a result, you’ll see a blue line representing puck-moving defenders with top-to-bottom mobility. Up front you have balance with some size and physicality to go along with speed and high-end ability.
Of course, size wasn’t a huge issue for USA, with most of their blue line being under 6ft, but they can all move pucks and they can all skate. Led by returnee Luke Hughes, this is a group that shoves pucks and needs to win the battle for possession to ensure their offense is their best defense. There just isn’t a lot of heaviness back there, which might raise some concerns about their overall ability to defend some of the bigger teams they might play against. That said, the US went over grit with skill at the back end.
The biggest surprise of the defensive cuts, however, was Shai Buium, who played a top-four role on a national championship team last year and was among the latest cuts for that team at the newly-reshuffled World Juniors. He also provides a little more size and still doesn’t give much in the offensive. Buium has decent mobility but I don’t think he skates like many of the blue line, which could have been a problem.
Guys on the bubble like Luke Mittelstadt and Seamus Casey, especially the latter, deserve a lot of credit for playing their way into the team. I heard Casey had a really strong camp and continued the game that made him successful in Michigan to earn his place on the team.
Up front, USA will be leaning heavily on some of their most experienced players like Logan Cooley and Jimmy Snuggerud, who have had chemistry with each other for years. Both should be key players on offense and they could reunite with longtime linemate from NTDP Cutter Gauthier for the USA top line. More needs to be decided on this front.
Chaz Lucius, who was a limited participant at camp due to injury, will be given every opportunity to recover and rejoin the team. He’s a dynamic goalscorer when he’s at his best and could become the second-biggest center in the US. I’ve also heard that the US staff appreciates the talent of North Dakota native Jackson Blake, who has played his way into a potential Top 6 role, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Michigan freshman Rutger McGroarty took the US lineup would advance in a scoring role.
The name of the game will be putting pucks on hold, being tough on prechecks and putting a lot of pressure on the opposing team. With a stubborn bottom six led by the likes of Red Savage and Noah Laba in the middle positions, USA want to be difficult to play while also being quick and skilled. I think the goals could be harder to come by in the lineup, but there should be a reasonable expectation that they will contribute at a high enough level to have a positive impact beyond the defensive elements of the game.
Willing to put in the work to bring home the gold. #WorldJuniors pic.twitter.com/vSXTrPMoIy
– USA Hockey (@usahockey) December 14, 2022
I thought we would also see draft qualifier Will Smith in the final list as he is one of the most dynamic players in the US draft pool. However, due to illness, Smith was unable to attend the camp and was therefore released early. It’s unfortunate timing, but he’s qualified for each of the next two tournaments.
On the net, USA doesn’t have the highest pedigree, but both Kaidan Mbereko and Trey Augustine are playing at a pretty high level so far this season. One of them will have to step up to provide reliable support for the US.
The Americans will play the preliminary round of the tournament in Group B in Moncton, where they will face Finland, Slovakia, Latvia and Switzerland. It’s not the strongest group as the other side includes Sweden and dark horse Czech Republic as well as favorites Canada.
Team USA will also play two pre-tournament games in Canada, one against Sweden on December 19th and one against Finland on December 21st, in preparation for the games going live on December 26th. The USA will open the tournament with boxing day against Latvia in Moncton.
Stay tuned for comprehensive World Junior coverage with a special focus on Team USA right here on FloHockey from now until the end of the tournament.