Monday, December 21, 2009

USA Hockey Trims WJC Roster

Today, USA Hockey released their latest 24-man roster for the World Junior Championships in Saskatchewan (official IIHF website here).

Of pertinent use to us Badger fans, John Ramage, Jake Gardiner and Derek Stepan have all made the cut. Gardiner and Stepan are sure bets to make the final squad, and there's hardly more to add on them, but seeing John Ramage's name on the list was a pleasant surprise. His presence has come at the expense of two U-18 defensemen (Justin Faulk and Jon Merrill) and a Major Junior blueliner (John Moore of the Kitchner Rangers). It'd be interesting to hear more about what it was that caused Moore to be cut, as he is a first round NHL pick (21st overall in 2009 to Columbus) and has had a pretty good season for the OHL Rangers (3-17-20, +4 in 20 games). However, it should be noted that this is the same John Moore who backed out on Colorado College for the OHL.

Is this USA Hockey's way of giving the finger to the CHL? Probably not, since there are still 8 current CHL players on the roster, and you can't imagine a team being run on such petty principles and making it very far in Saskatchewan. Dean Blais, Jim Johannson, Coach Oz and company may be college guys at heart, but they've got bigger fish to fry than to punish Moore for his defection. Either way, I'm secretly glad to see him off the team. What can I say? I love college hockey, and Karma is a bee-otch.

USA Hockey put together a little video with Dean Blais not really saying anything at all about the roster cuts themselves, but he does seem to hint that he's looking for strong puck security (ie, no turnovers and strong puck movement), which just might go a long way towards explaining why John Ramage is still around. Ram(p)age is having a very solid season for the Badgers, and his abilities with the puck have been one of his stronger suits, if you ask me. Seems like his talents are suiting him well.

Per the USA Hockey release, the final two cuts that will bring the team to its final 22-man roster will be made Wednesday, with an exhibition game against the Czech Republic to precede it on Tuesday. Best of luck, Badgers, and Go USA!