The 2011 U.S. Men’s National Team that will compete in the IIHF World Championship in Slovakia has yet to be announced, but a few players have already committed to represent the Red, White and Blue. Kevin Allen of the USA TODAY announced via Twitter that NY Islanders goaltender Al Montoya (Glenview, IL) has officially committed to play for Team USA. Montoya will be guarding the nets with veteran Ty Conklin (Anchorage, AK), the backup goalie for the St. Louis Blues this season, who committed to play earlier. A few days ago, Allen also wrote an article giving a potential breakdown of what players may end up playing for the U.S. squad as well.
On defense, you may see Mike Komisarek (Toronto), Mark Stuart (Atlanta), and Kevin Shattenkirk (St. Louis), with the possibility of
Erik Johnson and Matt Hunwick (Colorado) playing depending on their health/injuries. In addition, now that the Dallas Stars’ season is officially over, U.S. fans should hope the offensive minded Alex Goligoski makes the trip across the pond after his solid season split between Pittsburgh and Dallas. Personally, I was hoping Dustin Byfuglien’s (Atlanta) name would show up on an announcement of players that committed to joining the team and my fingers are stilled crossed in hopes that he does. Byfuglien’s big shot and large frame could be used in a number of circumstances, from the point to the paint, defenseman to power forward. However, I believe he was battling through some injuries toward the end of the season.
As for the forwards, there hasn’t been as much news regarding who might make the trip to represent their country. So far fellow American’s Blake Wheeler (Atlanta), Jack Skille (Florida) and Ryan Shannon (Ottawa) have agreed to play. I’m hoping this is the one area of the team that can be shored up before the April 29th tournament start date. Goal scoring seemed to be a problem last year in Germany, so I’m hoping available forwards like David Backes,
Phil Kessel, T.J. Oshie and R.J. Umberger commit to play as well. One possible bright spot is once the playoffs get underway, the teams losing in the first round could enrich the U.S. team’s player pool with the likes of Patrick Kane, Ryan Kessler, Dustin Brown, Jack Johnson, Jonathan Quick, Ryan Miller, Tim Thomas, Joe Pavelski, Brian Gionta, Keith Yandle, Cam Fowler, Bobby Ryan, Ryan Suter (the list goes on!) potentially becoming available. A fan of international hockey can hope, right?
Here’s a link to the USA Hockey page that will provide updates on the team as they’re announced.
According to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Zach Bogosian (Massena, NY) declined invitation to play for U.S. at the World Championship. Dustin Byfuglien (Minneapolis, MN) has been asked to play, but has yet to make a decision. Chris also announced that Thrashers’ forward Tim Stapleton (La Grange, IL) will play for the U.S. Team. (4/12/11)
As noted in Brian Burke’s end of season press conference, Phil Kessel (Madison, WI) has declined to play for the American team at the Worlds. (4/12/11)
According to Kevin Allen, this year’s Hobey Baker winner and Phoenix prospect Andy Miele will play for USA at the Worlds. In addition, Colorado’s Kevin Porter, Toronto’s Mike Brown, and N.Y. Rangers’ prospect Chris Kreider have accepted invitations to play as well. As of now, there isn’t one NHL 20 goal scorer amongst the commitments for the U.S. Team. Here’s the link to the Kevin Allen USA TODAY article. (4/13/11)