It is the month of December and the annual World Junior (Under-20) Championship is upon us. This year, it will take place in Leksand and Mora, Sweden
. The tournament is under the jurisdiction of the International Ice Hockey Federation
and it is an important tournament to view the future of national team players, recently drafted NHL prospects, and prospects looking to be drafted in the coming years. Last night, during the Chicago @ Minnesota game on Versus, USA Hockey announced their roster for the WJC. You can view it in a Word document (don't ask me why) on USA Hockey's main website.
I'd like to congratulate the 2 Devils prospects who made the team: Jeff Frazee (G, Univ. of Minnesota - WCHA) and Sean Zimmerman (D, Spokane - WHL). Frazee was a member of last year's WJC squad and will likely begin as the starting goaltender for America. Some question his recent play, but he has played well in big games before and is no stranger to international success (IIRC, he performed admirably for the US National Team in the World Under 18 tournament a few years back). There was a lot of hullabaloo on Hockey's Future's message boards
as to why Zimmerman was selected over Chris Summers or David Fischer or some other defenseman. I know that college teams are generally supportive of the WJCs, but they don't want to give up a player for any length of time unless they are going to get a significant amount of ice time. Zimmerman is a hard-nosed defensive defenseman who has been playing very well as of late; so he'll take the #7 role over a guys who would be better suited in a top-4 spot but won't due to the logjam of talented American defensemen.
Best of luck to America in the coming WJC tournament, which begins on December 27. Hopefully someone (Versus?) will air the American games at the very least. The WJCs are very fun to watch and it gives you some insight as to who the "next big thing" in hockey will be. Who knows, maybe he was already drafted to your favorite team.