World Cup of Hockey

Looking at the World Cup of Hockey: Team North America

The team that will be wearing the modern looking black and orange jersey is Team North America and they are one of the eight teams that will compete in the upcoming World Cup of Hockey. The team consists of players from Canada or America that are 23 years old or younger. Today we will take a look at their team…

Forwards:

Well, the forward position is arguably the most stacked position on this roster. They have tons of creative guys, fast guys, goal scorers, and more. From Edmonton they’ve got rookie Connor McDavid who had 48 points in 45 games and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. They also have Johnny Gaudreau who had 78 points last season with Calgary. Sean Monahan was originally on the roster but due to injury he can’t played so taking his spot his Vincent Trochek of the Florida Panthers. Trocheck had 25 goals and 28 assists last season. They’ve got Dylan Larkin coming off a 23 goal rookie season with Detroit and rookie Jack Eichel coming off a 24 goals, 32 assist season in Buffalo. In addition, they have Brandon Saad who had 30 goals in his first season with Columbus and guys like JT Miller, Mark Scheifele, Sean Couturier, and Nathan MacKinnon. Tampa Bay Lightning’s Jonathan Drouin is on the team as well. There was some drama surrounding Drouin last season but during the Stanley Cup Playoffs Drouin made his presence known. Drouin scored five goals and nine assists through 17 games. Also on the team is this year’s first overall pick and member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Auston Matthews.

Defense:

Aaron Ekblad went 1st overall to the Florida Panthers in the 2014 NHL Draft. Ekblad has been an All-Star for both of his NHL seasons. Joining him on defense is Shayne Gostisbehere. Gostisbehere was a key reason as to why the Flyers were able to push for a playoff spot last season as the rookie put up 17 goals (five game winning goals) and 29 assists in just 64 games. Another rookie sensation from last season was Colton Parayko of the St. Louis Blues. Parayko had a +/- rating of +28 and had 33 points. Seth Jones started out last season as a Nashville Predator but he was traded for Ryan Johansen and sent to the Blue Jackets. Jones along with fellow teammate Ryan Murray will be the Blue Jacket’s representatives on Team North America. Morgan Rielly of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Jacob Trouba of the Winnipeg Jets are on the team as well.

Goaltending:

The Pittsburgh Penguins entered the Stanley Cup Playoffs with their two goaltenders injured. Jeff Zatkoff got the call from games one and two against the Rangers but when Matt Murray came back from his injury he stole the show. Even when starter Marc-Andre Fleury came back, it was clear that Murray was in control of the crease. He was a key reason as to why the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup. Here is what Team North America GM Peter Chiarelli had to say about Murray and his chances of starting.

While we’re in the middle of World Cup chatter, not that this is a surprise but Peter Chiarelli said Matt Murray goes into NA camp as No. 1G

— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) September 1, 2016

 

Chiarelli on Murray: “Just based on his body of work, what he’s done, you can’t ignore that. He’s the lead dog right now.” — Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) September 1, 2016

 

John Gibson is coming off an All-Star season and with Fredrick Andersson being traded to the Maple Leafs, he is now the clear #1 goalie in Anaheim. Then there is Connor Hellebuyck. Hellebuyck had a 2.34 GAA and a .918 save % in 26 games played last season for the Winnipeg Jets.

Strength:

Their forward group is a strength for sure. They are fast, skilled, and creative. This teams consist of players who haven’t been in the league for long but have highlight reels longer than players with 500-1,000 games in hand. This will be a fun team to watch.

Weakness:

Experience. Other teams consist of players who have been in the league for many years and have a lot of experience. Team North America consists of rookies from last season and players who have only been in the league for a couple of years. However, I don’t think it should hold them back.

X-Factor:

Defense. Defense is the X-Factor. They’ve got some really good players back there and they have a good mix of defensive defenseman and offensive defenseman. A couple of these guys just had great rookie seasons, they have to go out there and prove it wasn’t a fluke. As for the other guys, despite being young, most of them are pretty well established around the league. The way the defense plays, whether contributing to the scoresheet or shutting down opponents offensive opportunities, it will all be key if North America wins the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

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