Whoever came up with the idea of Team North America deserves enormous credit. While the big teams are all fighting over who's going to win, this team of young stars is out there winning games, and looking rather good in doing so. Let's take a look at what to expect from this tournament's darkest of dark horses.
Who exactly are Team North America?
This is a team of the most exciting and talented players from across the USA and Canada; all players are aged 23 and under, and unlike their senior counterparts on Teams Canada and USA, these kids are not pulling out of the tournament. They all want to make a name for themselves.
Coach for this easy-to-coach group is Todd McLellan, formerly of the San Jose Sharks and now coach of those pesky Edmonton Oilers. With GMs Stan Bowman and Peter Chiarelli, plus coaches Jon Cooper, Peter De Boer, Dave Tippett and Jay Woodcroft, the management of this team is big-name heavy. They are well-positioned to succeed.
Which Canucks should I look out for?
Rest easy people, there are no Canucks on this roster. Simply watch as those young legs out-pace their older rivals.
Gaudreau - McDavid - Eichel
Drouin - Matthews - MacKinnon
Saad - RNH - Scheifele
Larkin - Couturier - Trocheck
Parayko - Ekblad
Gostisbehere - Jones
Murray - Trouba
Gibson - Murray - Hellebuyck
What can we look forward to with this team?
- Goals, goals, goals. This team knows how to score, and then some. Look at the talent - every single one of that top 6 would walk into any team in the league's top line. And when your bottom six has scoring from RNH, Larkin, Scheifele and Saad, you know you're going to do well. Connor McDavid is captain, in what is expected to be a solid audition for the Oilers' role for the next ten years.
- The D looks tasty too, with Ekblad wearing an A and leading this talented blue line. They have four top-pairing D, all of whom should break the 40pt barrier this season.
- Goaltending looks good, although you could argue that none of the three are truly established. Gibson has a lot to handle this season, taking the Ducks' net and having a lot of expectation thrust upon him. He's good. He'll do fine.
- Rather than no anthem (as with Team Europe), Team North America will stand for both O Canada AND the Star Spangled Banner. Will any of them sing both anthems? You wouldn't catch me singing Flower of Scotland.
How will they do?
Their group sees them face Finland, Sweden and Russia. I can honestly see them winning the group. I suspect that a best-of-3 final would see experience trump youth, but I can easily see Team North America upsetting the establishment.
A 2-1 loss in the Finals to Team Canada. With the captain leading the tournament in scoring.