Skip to content

Team USA’s World Juniors confidence comes from their defense

Dec 18, 2012, 8:00 AM EDT

Seth Jones Getty Images

HAWTHORNE, NY — One of the strengths Team USA will have when they head into the World Junior Championships is on their blue line. With a future star in 2013 draft prospect Seth Jones as well as three first-round picks in Jacob Trouba, Connor Murphy, and Brady Skjei the American defense will be huge.

One thing is for sure, the guys on the ice believe in the crew they’ve got on the back line as well.

“I think we have a great blue line,” says 2012 Winnipeg Jets first-rounder Jacob Trouba. “We have some diversity with big guys and we have some smaller guys who are shifty. Whoever ends up coming to the tournament, we’ll be good on the blue line.”

Rangers 2012 first-rounder Brady Skjei agrees with him.

“I think we all have a feel for each other. With Jones and Trouba and all them the last couple years, we’re pretty confident we’re a solid D corps.”

The big guys we’ve mentioned already. The small, shifty ones are guys like 2012 third-round picks Matt Grzelcyk (Boston) and Shayne Gostisbehere (Philadelphia). They may not deliver the body, but their quickness and playmaking ability could be useful on the international-sized ice. That’s something coach, and one-time shifty defenseman himself, Phil Housley noticed right away.

“I look at our back end as a whole; I think there’s a lot of guys that can fit that mold,” Housley said. “Certainly Grzelcyk, Gostisbehere and [Mike] Reilly, they have that uncanny ability to jump up in the play.”

While playing on a bigger ice surface doesn’t bother any of the players, the star power they’ll face in Russia is another story. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will lead the way for Canada while the hosts will have guys like Mikhail Grigorenko and Nail Yakupov.

Could the Americans get psyched out by the star power they’ll see from their opponents?

“Not really. We’ve got plenty talent on our team too,” Trouba said. “One player is nothing huge. We’ve played against a lot of them in the past. They’re good but they’re still hockey players too.”

Latest Posts
  1. Bettman shoots down idea of re-naming NHL awards

    Mar 31, 2015, 6:41 PM EDT

    2014 NHL Awards - Arrivals Getty Images

    So the Hart will not, as some have suggested, become the Gretzky.

  2. Versteeg misses Kane

    Mar 31, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT

    Toronto Maple Leafs v Chicago Blackhawks Toronto Maple Leafs v Chicago Blackhawks

    Blackhawks duo “had a good thing going.”

  3. Pressure’s on the Jets, who don’t want to blow it now

    Mar 31, 2015, 3:38 PM EDT

    Minnesota Wild v Winnipeg Jets Getty Images

    Could really use a win tonight versus the Rangers.

  4. Despite trend of visitors winning Game 7, Laviolette wants home ice for Preds

    Mar 31, 2015, 2:40 PM EDT

    Peter Laviolette AP

    “I can speak from experience that home ice matters.”

  5. Goalie nods: Hamburglar goes for Ottawa

    Mar 31, 2015, 2:13 PM EDT

    Andrew Hammond Andrew Hammond

    News and notes from around the crease…

  6. Report: BC standout Matheson to sign with Panthers, forgo senior year

    Mar 31, 2015, 1:05 PM EDT

    Frozen Fenway 2014: Notre Dame v Boston College Getty Images

    He was Florida’s first-round pick (23rd overall) at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

  7. Report: Warrant issued for Deveaux’s arrest following Swedish league attack

    Mar 31, 2015, 12:06 PM EDT

    Toronto Maple Leafs v Buffalo Sabres Getty Images

    This after his team, Rogle, terminated his contract on Monday.

  8. Mrazek gets chance to bounce back, will start tonight versus Sens

    Mar 31, 2015, 12:01 PM EDT

    Detroit Red Wings v New York Islanders Getty Images

    Gave up four goals on 11 shots Sunday versus the Islanders.

  9. Isles sign Quebec league tough guy Johnston

    Mar 31, 2015, 11:24 AM EDT

    Johnston

    6-foot-5, 225-pounder led Charlottetown in penalty minutes this year, with 124.

  10. Bruins sign Miami (Ohio) playmaker Czarnik

    Mar 31, 2015, 10:38 AM EDT

    Miami v Providence Getty Images

    He finished tied for third in the country in assists last season.

  11. Kings’ Sekera hurt during loss to Chicago

    Mar 31, 2015, 9:55 AM EDT

    Andrej Sekera Getty Images

    Los Angeles traded a first-round pick in February to get him.

  12. PHT Morning Skate: Nemeth gets puck lodged in visor

    Mar 31, 2015, 8:01 AM EDT

    Patrik Nemeth

    Tuesday’s collection of links.

  13. Sabres ‘win’ latest tank war against Coyotes

    Mar 31, 2015, 12:48 AM EDT

    Arizona Coyotes v Buffalo Sabres Getty Images

    Feel free to change that to “lose.”

Featured video

Hammond leads Ottawa's turnaround
Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. D. Dubnyk (2058)
  2. A. Steen (1902)
  3. H. Lundqvist (1879)
  4. E. Malkin (1766)
  5. K. Letang (1761)