DeBrincat and Makar and Vinnie—Oh My!

Updated: December 24, 2016 at 9:00 am by Curtis LeBlanc

It’s Christmas eve and rosters have been set for the only international tournament I care about. A welcomed break from the measured, defensive hockey of the modern NHL, the annual U-20 World Junior Championships is a hormone-fueled ice battle between teenagers fighting to improve their draft stock on the world stage and I personally can’t wait.

Alex DeBrincat Most Recent Team USA Snub

Team USA made a shocker of a decision on Thursday when they released Alex DeBrincat from their roster for the upcoming World Junior Championships taking place in Toronto and Montreal. 

DeBrincat has had a rough go so far at the U-20s, being ejected in his first game last year for spearing and then suffering a shoulder injury in his next game, thereby ending his 2016 tournament. 

This year he won’t even get the chance to muck it all up as the powers-that-be at USA Hockey deemed him unfit to represent his country in 2017.

Those already familiar with DeBrincat’s season thus far—as well as his overall offensive game—already know that the decision to leave him off the team is ludicrous. He’s second in OHL scoring with 60 points (30-30) in only 28 games played.

He’s also a diminutive 5”7’ and 170 lbs and I have a stinky suspicion that this is a continuation of the same line of thinking that lead to Team USA’s most recent debacle. It appears they could be going with some variation of the wildly unsuccessful “Grit or Go Home” strategy, which they employed most recently at the World Cup of Hockey when they left Phil Kessel off the roster and failed to make it past the round robin.

To put this all into perspective, below I’ve included the NHL Equivalencies (courtesy of Rob Vollman) for each forward on the Team USA roster.

Player Height Weight Team Drafted GP Points PPG NHLE (PPG)
Jeremy Bracco 5-10 (175) 180 (82) Kitchener Rangers (OHL) TOR (’15, 2nd rd., 61st overall) 27 51 1.89 0.6
Clayton Keller 5-10 (175) 172 (78) Boston University (HEA) ARI (’16, 1st rd., 7th overall) 10 15 1.5 0.56
Tanner Laczynski 6-0 (183) 191 (87) Ohio State University (Big Ten) PHI (’16, 6th rd., 169th overall) 15 22 1.47 0.51
Patrick Harper 5-9 (175) 160 (73) Boston University (HEA) NSH (’16, 5th rd., 138th overall) 17 20 1.18 0.44
Joey Anderson 5-11 (180) 200 (91) University of Minnesota Duluth (NCHC) NJ (’16, 3rd rd., 73rd overall) 16 17 1.06 0.43
Tage Thompson 6-5 (196) 200 (91) University of Connecticut (HEA) STL (’16, 1st rd., 26th overall) 18 20 1.1 0.41
Troy Terry 6-0 (183) 166 (75) University of Denver (NCHC) ANA (’15, 5th rd., 148 overall) 18 17 0.94 0.39
Luke Kunin 5-11 (180) 196 (89) University of Wisconsin (Big Ten) MIN (’16, 1st rd., 15th overall) 16 17 1.06 0.37
Jordan Greenway 6-5 (196) 230 (104) Boston University (HEA) MIN (’15, 2nd rd., 50th overall) 16 16 1 0.37
Erik Foley 6-0 (183) 197 (89) Providence College (HEA) WPG (’15, 3rd rd., 78th overall) 16 15 0.93 0.35
Colin White* 6-0 (183) 183 (83) Boston College (HEA) OTT (’15, 1st rd., 21st overall) 18 17 0.94 0.35
Jack Roslovic 6-1 (185) 191 (87) Manitoba Moose (AHL) WPG (’15, 1st rd., 25th overall) 25 19 0.76 0.32
Kieffer Bellows 6-0 (183) 201 (91) Boston University (HEA) NYI (’16, 1st rd., 19th overall) 15 6 0.4 0.15

Alex Debrincat’s current NHLE for the 2016-2017 season is 0.69 points per game, which translates to 56 points over a full 82 games. He projects to be roughly seven points better over a full NHL season than the next best offensive player on USA, Jeremy Bracco. He would have been their biggest threat to score, hands down, and instead he gets to fill the offensive void left in Erie by Team Canada’s Dylan Strome and Taylor Raddysh.

Team Canada Goes With Age and Experience

After finishing sixth in last year’s tournament, Team Canada will be without a single draft-eligible player on the roster the first time since…I actually don’t know. I got back all the way to 2002 and then the pizza came. Can anybody tell me?

The point is, it’s been a long time since they’ve gone with a squad comprised completely of drafted players. Projected first overall pick Nolan Patrick would’ve had an excellent chance to crack the roster but he wasn’t medically cleared for camp after suffering an upper-body injury six games into the WHL season.

The other player some would have liked to see get a look is Junior A highlight reel Cale Makar. The defenceman has 38 points (11-27) in 29 games played with the Brooks Bandits of the AJHL. That’s good for an NHLE of 21 points over 82 NHL games. That puts him roughly middle of the pack in terms of NHLEs among Canada’s defencemen going into the tournament, but he didn’t get a chance to strut his stuff for the coaching staff and management.

Bonus: Trump Nominates Panthers Owner Vincent Viola as Secretary of the Army

President elect and stain-on-the-human-race Donald Trump nominated the 1977 West Point graduate as Army secretary earlier this week. Somehow, this makes me like the Panthers less.