For a strong showing at the World Cup of Hockey, the United States needs anchors on the blue line and it’s going to be in a system run by the defensive minded John Tortorella. As the March deadline approaches for rosters to be revealed, here’s who we have for the top 6 (and some other names to be aware of).
1. Ryan Suter
Much like the 2015 playoffs expect Suter to log a lot of ice time. He is a solid defensemen at both ends of the ice.
2. Ryan McDonagh
While he may not score (one season of double digit goals), McDonagh will prevent opposing teams from putting the puck in the net. Has never finished a season worse than +11. He spends many nights on the ice against the other teams top line and still gets the job done.
3. Kevin Shattenkirk
Had a career high in assists (36) last season in only 56 games. Shattenkirk can move the puck, but his isn’t afraid to hit you either. At only 26, his best hockey is still in front of him. That’s great news for USA hockey.
4. John Carlson
Even though his scoring pace has slowed a bit this season, Carlson still has 18 points through 23 games. He just played his 400th consecutive game, so durability will not be a question with Carlson.
5. Justin Faulk
No defenseman has helped his standing more than Faulk this season. Should team USA have the man advantage Faulk likely will be on the ice. He currently leads all defensemen with 8 power play goals. He is a career -46, but playing for the Carolina Hurricanes doesn’t help.
6. Keith Yandle
A skilled puck moving defenseman, its likely that Yandle was the last man out for the 2014 Olympics. He can get things started out of his own end that will be a key against some of the more skilled teams (think Canada). As things sit right now, he’s got a spot.
Worth a Look:
7. Cam Fowler
If these ranking would have been done after the 2015 playoffs, its likely that Fowler would have been higher on the list. Count him as a part of the struggles in Anaheim. Wouldn’t shock me if he moves up the list, but his play has to improve.
8. Jack Johnson
This is the guy I’m rooting for. Nobody wants to play for this team more than Jack Johnson. He produced his 2nd highest point total in 2015, but is on a much slower pace this season. Are his talents being wasted in Columbus or have we seen the best of Jack Johnson? Tough call for Team USA management.
9. Nick Leddy
Leddy can really skate and like Yandle excels at moving the puck out the defensive zone. With only 6 points in 25 games, Leddy is off to a disappointing start and it might be too much to overcome.