This article is part of our Prospects Analysis series.
The greatest hockey tournament in the world begins Dec. 26 in Helsinki, Finland. Our annual preview is below.
Goalies: The United States goaltending duo will be consist of Brandon Halverson (NYR, 2nd rd. '14) and Alex Nedeljkovic (CAR, 2nd rd. '14). Both goaltenders were on the team last year, although neither played much behind starter Thatcher Demko. Both keepers play in the OHL, and both have had poor seasons playing behind mediocre teams (although Nedeljkovic was traded to a bit better team in Niagara about two weeks ago.) Halverson is the better pro prospect of the two, but I wouldn't be surprised if both guys saw early action. Nedeljkovic is the better athlete, but Halverson's puck handling ability can be a huge asset on the larger ice surface.
Defensemen: This is going to be Team USA's biggest weakness. The defensive core has three returnees: Zach Werenski (CBJ, 1st rd. '15), Brandon Carlo (BOS, 2nd rd. '15) and Ryan Collins (CBJ, 2nd rd. '14). Werenski is going to get a ton of ice time as an elite puck moving defenseman, especially on the power play. Carlo and Collins are both more effective in their own end at this point in their careers. All of the other defensemen who are expected to make the team are small guys who are more slanted towards the offensive end. They include Boston University teammates and Long Island natives Brandon Fortunato (UFA) and Charlie McAvoy ('16 draft eligible), Chad Krys ('16 draft eligible)