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. Trotz will still cheer for Preds ‘like crazy’

    Aug 31, 2014, 11:01 PM EDT

    Barry Trotz AP

    He continued to follow their summer moves after he was fired.

  2. Lombardi brings Stanley Cup to Snoopy

    Aug 31, 2014, 9:44 PM EDT

    Dean Lombardi AP

    The late creator of Peanuts was a big hockey fan.

  3. Columnist: Schultz deal might complicate Avs’ talks with RFA Barrie

    Aug 31, 2014, 8:26 PM EDT

    Tyson Barrie Getty Images

    The Colorado defenseman is still a restricted free agent.

  4. Scioscia wants MLB to adopt NHL-inspired roster expansion rules

    Aug 31, 2014, 7:03 PM EDT

    Mike Scioscia AP

    “I think that would make it a little more equitable for match-ups.”

  5. Hextall: Advanced statistics small, but meaningful part of Kings’ success

    Aug 31, 2014, 4:22 PM EDT

    Ron Hextall Getty Images

    He served as an assistant general manager in Los Angeles before coming to Philadelphia.

  6. Gagner looking for fresh start in Arizona

    Aug 31, 2014, 3:02 PM EDT

    Sam Gagner AP

    After matching a career-low in goals during the 2013-14 season, he’s hoping for big things with the Coyotes.

  7. Report: Devils sign Kelly

    Aug 31, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT

    Image (1) NewJerseyDevils_logo-thumb-250x243-22093.gif for post 6122

    Add depth to blue line in Albany.

  8. Hayes sees opportunity with Rangers

    Aug 31, 2014, 12:03 PM EDT

    Kevin Hayes Getty Images

    Hopes to play in the NHL in 2014-15.

  9. Bieksa confident changes have Canucks headed in right direction

    Aug 31, 2014, 10:33 AM EDT

    Kevin Bieksa Getty Images

    After missing the playoffs for the first time since 2007-08, he believes they’ll be back in the postseason in 2014-15.

  10. Leafs’ Kadri aims for more goals in contract year

    Aug 31, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Toronto Maple Leafs v Ottawa Senators Getty Images

    He’s emphasized a quick shot release the most.

  11. Sharks explain moving Burns back to the blueline

    Aug 31, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game Seven Getty Images

    GM Doug Wilson points out that he was acquired to be a “stud defenseman.”

  12. Looking to make the leap: Reid Boucher

    Aug 30, 2014, 11:10 PM EDT

    Florida Panthers v New Jersey Devils Getty Images

    Stefan Matteau is in the conversation, too.

  13. Oilers’ Schultz admits it’s too early for Norris talk

    Aug 30, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT

    Edmonton Oilers v Anaheim Ducks Getty Images

    His new deal earned more than a few critics.

  14. Boudreau doesn’t know how Ducks goalie situation will ‘shake out’

    Aug 30, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

    Bruce Boudreau AP

    Frederik Andersen and John Gibson both have a shot at being No. 1.

  15. What if the Blue Jackets and Johansen don’t reach a deal?

    Aug 30, 2014, 4:05 PM EDT

    Ryan Johansen Getty Images

    The two sides are not budging in contract negotiations.

  16. Under Pressure: Cory Schneider

    Aug 30, 2014, 3:06 PM EDT

    Cory Schneider AP

    Will try to guide the Devils back to the postseason after two straight seasons without playoff hockey in New Jersey.

  17. Binghamton Senators unveil new jerseys

    Aug 30, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT

    Will wear a different look in 2014-15.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. B. Bishop (1799)
  2. M. Fleury (1719)
  3. D. Alfredsson (1705)
  4. C. Anderson (1626)
  5. J. Schultz (1284)
  1. D. Setoguchi (1226)
  2. J. Boychuk (1224)
  3. D. Krejci (1191)
  4. J. Harding (1159)
  5. E. Staal (1151)