The World Juniors are upon us. We have just a few weeks until all of the world's top hockey prospects not playing in the NHL hit center stage at the 2023-24 World Junior Championships.
Every year, each hockey country comes together believing that they have a chance to win. Some years, however, teams show up with extra-loaded rosters.
It is never consistent because these guys usually graduate to the NHL in a short time or age out so they don't return to the tournament. A few players are lucky enough to play in it twice which is great for their development.
This year's edition is going to take place in Sweden. In 2023, Canada won their 20th Gold Medal at the event with Czechia coming in second with a Silver. Team USA won the Bronze with a win over Sweden.
Team USA is looking to win the Gold Medal at the World Juniors
Will Team USA be a team that medals again? That is the hope for all American hockey fans. They might have a roster good enough to win the whole thing this year. Canada will be great and so will Sweden, Finland, and Czechia but the USA preliminary roster is looking amazing.
Almost every hockey country has high-end prospects up and down their group but Team USA seems to have a little bit of extra pedigree this year. Now, there is no Jack Hughes or Auston Matthews type of player on this roster but there are a bunch of really good (first-round level) talent.
Team USA is going to be loaded with players currently playing college hockey. The most notable could be the trio of Will Smith (San Jose Sharks), Gabe Perreault (New York Rangers), and Ryan Leonard (Washington Capitals).
This line could probably score a goal in the NHL right now if put in there. They are the driving force for Boston College's offense. David Carle would be foolish not to keep this line together in this tournament.
They will have a few other BC teammates there with them but none are as notable as Cutter Gauthier (Philadelphia Flyers). He was Philadelphia's fifth overall pick in 2022. He will play a big role on this team as one of their most dangerous forwards.
There are some pretty good defensemen to watch out for too. Seamus Casey (New Jersey Devils) and Lane Hutson (Montreal Canadiens) are the two standouts who could help this team in all three zones.
In net, Team USA currently has three guys on the preliminary roster. Trey Augustine (Detroit Red Wings) of Michigan State, Jacob Fowler (Montreal Canadiens) of Boston College, and Sam Hillebrandt (2024 Draft) of the Barrie Colts are the expected trio. The team has a chance based on goaltending alone.
Winning a Gold Medal is hard to do with all of these great players in the world competing. However, Team USA should go into this tournament feeling very good about itself. They have the horses needed to win this entire thing.
Team USA will kick off the tournament on December 26th at 11 AM ET against Norway. Every USA game will be found on NHL Network in addition to lots of other games involving other countries. That includes the medal rounds. It really is the most wonderful time of the year.