The United States has finalized its roster, as the Americans try to defend their championship at the World Junior Hockey Championship.
The tournament begins in Malmo, Sweden on Dec. 26 and will conclude with the championship game on Jan. 5.
Team USA already began its title defense with a triumphant 5-1 over the Czech Republic.
Great win for the team tonight. Really wanted to let @NHLNetwork know how important good clears are...— Brady Skjei (@BradySkjei) December 26, 2013
The Americans take a strong roster to this competition. The lineup includes three different players that were first-round selections in past NHL drafts.
Riley Barber, a 19-year-old drafted in the sixth round by the Washington Capitols in 2012, has been named the team's captain. Fittingly, Barber netted the opening goal in this tournament for Team USA.
Barber was instrumental in the Americans' run to the title last year. He netted three goals and three assists in the tournament.
As USAHockey.com confirms, Andrew Copp and Matt Grzelcyk were named the alternate captains.
In all, the roster consists of 13 forwards, seven defensemen and three goalies. Have a look at the full roster, which comes to us via NHL.com:
Goalies: *Jon Gillies, Providence College, HEA (Calgary); Anthony Stolarz, London, OHL (Philadelphia); Thatcher Demko, Boston College, HEA (2014 draft eligible)
Defenseman: Matthew Grzelcyk, Boston University, HEA (Boston); Brady Skjei, University of Minnesota, Big Ten (New York Rangers); Ian McCoshen, Boston College, HEA (Florida); Steven Santini, Boston College, HEA (New Jersey); Will Butcher, University of Denver, NCHC (Colorado);Connor Carrick, Plymouth, OHL (Washington); Jaccob Slavin, Colorado College, NCHC (Carolina).
Forwards: Nicolas Kerdiles, University of Wisconsin, Big Ten (Anaheim); Adam Erne, Quebec, QMJHL (Tampa Bay); Stefan Matteau, Rimouski, QMJHL (New Jersey); Thomas Di Pauli, University of Notre Dame, HEA (Washington); Daniel O'Regan, Boston University, HEA (San Jose); Jack Eichel, USA U-18, USHL (2015 draft eligible); Andrew Copp, University of Michigan, Big Ten (Winnipeg);Quentin Shore, University of Denver, NCHC (Ottawa); *Ryan Hartman, Plymouth, OHL (Chicago); *Riley Barber, Miami University, NCHC (Washington); Hudson Fasching, University of Minnesota, Big Ten (Los Angeles); Vince Hinostroza, University of Notre Dame, HEA (Chicago); Zach Stepan, Minnesota State University, WCHA (Nashville).
*- Returning player
Although there are a few holdovers from last year's squad, this roster does have valuable experience. Not only with Barber, but Jon Gillies also gives the Americans an experienced hand in goal. It was Gillies in goal for the opener against the Czechs.
There is also a big infusion of new young talent. That starts with Jack Eichel.
The 6'2", 191-pound center put himself on the radar of hockey fans at last year's Under-17 World Championships. Eichel, 17, is the youngest player on the roster, but his offensive pedigree more than makes up for any inexperience he has.
USA Today's Kevin Allen passed along this take from NHL draft expert Craig Button on Eichel's and Canada's Connor McDavid performances at the U-17 competition:
Those two guys put themselves on another plane. It was McDavid, Eichel and then Eichel, McDavid. Back and forth. They just dominated the game. If anyone else saw any other part of that game, good for them, because it was hard to take your eyes off those two players.
Will the USA defend its title?
As Allen notes, McDavid is projected as the No. 1 pick for the 2015 draft, but it certainly isn't out of the question that Eichel will challenge him for that spot. Button was quoted by Allen as giving the young American the following draft assessment: "Eichel is in the conversation for the top three."
Eichel helps add explosiveness to a roster that isn't hurting for goal scorers. The five goals scored against the Czech's came from five different players.
There is no reason this roster can't defend the title, and it will attempt to take the next step in that process on Dec. 28 against Slovakia.