The World Cup of Hockey is upon us, and the United States is looking to win the gold. However, things won’t be so easy for the USA, as their are a lot of issues facing the makeup of the roster.
Hockey in the United States isn’t quite as prominent as the other major sports, but its popularity is growing gradually. And while most of the elite come from Canada and overseas, the 2016 USA World Cup roster is still full of top-level talent. But that doesn’t mean the team was entirely assembled.
The USA squad, while still strong, doesn’t seem to compare to some of the other competing rosters. While Canada, Russia, and Sweden all opted to simply build a roster by assembling all of its top talents, the United States took a little different approach. American stars, Patrick Kane, T.J. Oshie, and Ben Bishop are all featured, but there is a noticeable difference in how the U.S. roster is assembled about other countries.
The United States opted to place players on their roster that filled specific needs, which didn’t necessarily mean putting its best talent on the ice.
The USA features a great amount of talent at the NHL level, but the World Cup squad didn’t use enough of. The United States is without players such as Tyler Johnson, Kyle Okposo, Phil Kessel, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Justin Faulk. Why names such as Brandon Dubinsky, Jack Johnson or Justin Abdelkader deserve a spot on this team over any of the stars above is appalling.
It’s understandable if the goal of U.S.A. hockey is to build a team that can play tough against Canada or Russia, but there comes the point when depth becomes an issue. Canada goes four lines deep; the United States doesn’t have any elite talent past their second line. Even the North American squad, which is made up of Canadian and American talent under 24 years of age, has better depth when it comes to American-born players.
It’s frustrating that the United States hasn’t embraced the game of hockey. There is a lot of great talent from the country, which is what makes the decision to place role players on the roster so frustrating.
U.S.A. basketball takes the best players available to them, and aside from maybe one role player, it’s the superstars that play international competition. The World Cup of Hockey team features as many role players as stars, and that’s just disappointing for a country that could potentially win the whole tournament if it had its top players.
Unfortunately, this is the team America will feature. It’s great to play physical hockey, but filling specific needs isn’t the best way to build a tournament roster when so much depth is available to you. Take the best players and let things play themselves out, that’s what Canada did, but somehow the U.S.A doesn’t get that.
Follow Daniel James Gentile on Twitter @dgentleman9288