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Five Americans to watch at World Juniors

Dec 22, 2011, 11:08 AM EDT

Jack Campbell Getty Images

We’ve already taken a look at what Team Canada is bringing to the table for the 2012 World Junior Championships, and today Team USA and coach Dean Blais made their final cuts and chose the 22-man team they hope can win gold come January. While there were some surprise cuts and additions, there are five players who will be the biggest difference makers.

Jack Campbell – (G)

This is Campbell’s third go-round at World Juniors and after leading Team USA to gold in 2010 he’d like to rebound to do it again in Canada after not doing so hot last year. The Dallas Stars prospect getting the shot to shine on the big stage of the WJCs once again will hopefully show the Stars that their future franchise goalie is ready for prime time.

Jon Merrill – (D)

Merrill is a Devils prospect also playing in his third World Juniors. Merrill’s work from the blue line as both a solid defender and a power play leader will be necessary when it comes to the stiffer competition from Canada and Russia. Cashing in on the man advantage will be what makes the difference in the tournament. Without Justin Faulk to run the point, Merrill’s job becomes a big one.

Nick Bjugstad – (F)

Bjugstad is about as big of a forward as you’ll find on this American roster and his offensive skills make him a threat all over the ice. He can pass, he can park around the net and make goalies uncomfortable, he can rush the puck up the ice. If the Panthers prospect out of the University of Minnesota proves to be a force, the Americans will do very well.

Jason Zucker – (F)

No one’s been more impressive at the WJCs than Jason Zucker. The Wild prospect has seized the opportunity to shine the last two years at World Juniors and he comes into this year’s tournament with a wicked shot and offense to burn. Expect Zucker to show why his future is only getting brighter.

Emerson Etem – (F)

This Ducks prospect has only gotten better this year while playing for Medicine Hat in the WHL. He showed why the Ducks made him a first round pick last year in making Team USA and this time around he’ll be expected to be a leader. His speed and offensive flash as well as physical play at times makes him a top threat for the Americans.

  1. sknut - Dec 22, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    Bjugstad is a beast. He is going to be a solid NHL’er for years. The best is when Lou Nanne tries to convince Tallon that Bjugstad needs another year in college. Obviously that probably won’t happen so us Gophers fans should enjoy him now.

  2. elvispocomo - Dec 22, 2011 at 1:05 PM

    I’d love to have Merrill in my prospect pool as an NHL GM. The Devils have lots of solid D prospects (Larsson, Urbom, Gelinas, Burlon; most of them 6’3″) so they look to be pretty set in that regard. Not much for forwards (at least wingers, Henrique is ) in their pool though, so perhaps they look to move one or two for more depth there.

    • cdiercksen - Dec 22, 2011 at 4:36 PM

      Gelinas and Burlon maybe. Urbom plays tomorrow night. Merrill and Larsson aren’t going anywhere.

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