It seems as if every year the United States has at least one impactful draft eligible player on their World Junior Championship roster.
Tuesday’s announcement of USA Hockey’s 27-man preliminary roster could have two.
Draft eligibles Seth Jones and Ryan Hartman could both have the opportunity to represent the United States at the World Juniors after the two members of the 2013 NHL Draft class were named to the camp roster.
For Jones, the announcement comes as no surprise as the 18-year-old would have made an appearance at the 2012 World Juniors had he not gotten injured in a pre-tournament exhibition last December. Jones, who could challenge Canadian Nathan MacKinnon as the top prospect for the 2013 NHL Draft,, has been solid for the Portland Winterhawks this season notching 23 points and a plus-23 rating through 27 games.
Expectations for Jones are high heading into USA Hockey’s pre-tournament camps, which begin Dec. 16 in New York.
“He’s built for today’s game being big, strong, athletic, skating well, and making a crisp first pass out of the zone,” said head coach Phil Housley who coached against Jones in September’s All American Prospects Game. “Defensively, he’s got a great stick and uses his size well…his skating has improved and he’s able to jump into the play. I’m quite excited to see him again in New York.”
Hartman, who has been nothing short of spectacular in his first season with the Plymouth Whalers, remains a late first round pick in most scouts’ eyes in anticipation of June’s draft.
Last year on the National Team Development Program’s U18 team, Hartman notched the second most points and is in the same position a top Plymouth’s scoring leaders this season.
“I really liked his play in Lake Placid as he’s a guy who got better every day,” said Housley who mentioned Hartman could potentially play either center or wing on this team. “He plays both ends of the rink, can skate, can change the momentum of the game with a big hit, and provide offense.”
Barring another injury, Seth Jones is lock to make the trip to Ufa with the team, but the status of Hartman remains largely unknown. The United States must shed two forwards from the preliminary roster by Dec. 23 when the team will head from the final team camp in Helsinki to Ufa for the start of the tournament.