Kreider and Pionk make initial Team USA roster

Two Rangers will wear red, white, and blue for a few extra games this spring.

We already knew that Chris Kreider was going to play for Team USA at the 2018 Men’s World Championship. But today we learned that the big winger will be joined by Rangers’ rookie defenseman Neal Pionk.

Pionk joins an American blue line featuring fellow NHL rookie Will Butcher, Quinn Hughes, Connor Murphy, Nick Jensen, Alec Martinez, and Jordan Oesterle. Pionk and his peers will play in front of a goaltending corps comprised of Scott Darling, Keith Kinkaid, and Charlie Lindgren.

Pionk’s inclusion on the initial roster is a pretty big deal considering the fact that he was an undrafted college free agent. He piled up 17 points in 48 games during the 2017-18 NHL season. It’s beginning to look like the Rangers really found something special when they signed the University of Minnesota-Duluth standout on May 1, 2017.

The 2018 World Championship tournament begins on May 4, but Team USA will play one exhibition game against the host nation Denmark on May 1.