There's a lot of talk going around about the New York Rangers three big prospects sitting in the pool of players USA Hockey will choose from when they create their World Junior Championship squad. J.T. Miller (1st, 2011), Brady Skjei (1st, 2012) and Steven Fogarty (3rd, 2011) all made another round of cuts yesterday, remaining with the team through another series of scrimmages.
This is a big deal, and it would be an even bigger deal if all three players could make the World Juniors squad. Let me give an example: Christian Thomas made some serious strides for the Canadian World Junior squad last year, but ended up not making the team.
During his tryouts, he got to play against some of the best Canadian prospects the NHL had to offer. Had he of made it to the World Juniors he would have gotten to face some of the best prospects all the NHL had to offer.
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Look at Miller. Miller made the team last year and already has made tremendous improvements this year and has become an even more polished player. His offense came around in the OHL -- after it was so so during the 2011 World Juniors -- but in practice and scrimmages he's shown a vastly improved offensive skill-set.
Skjei has seen international play at the lower levels, and Fogarty was part of the tryout group last year for the USA (but didn't make the team).
Assume Miller will make the squad, especially after his experience from previous years and the game he's brought to camp thus far. I also have a feeling Skjei will make the team -- everyone on the USA staff has raved about his skating ability and agility. Some have even gone so far to say that Skjei was the best skater in the entire pool of players.
Imagine how much better those two would be with more international experience. And imagine how much better Fogarty (who will be going to Notre Dame) will be with it as well. Sure, it's a good chance to see where some prospects rank among the best in the NHL. Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh all made major strides in World Juniors.
Will these three be next?