Saginaw Spirit Players To USA Hockey’s World Junior Team

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Saginaw Spirit players to USA Hockey’s World Junior team?Kyle Austin | The Saginaw News

Will Brandon Saad or Vincent Trocheck be suiting up in the red, white and blue this holiday season?

We’ll find out at 5:30 p.m. today, when USA Hockey reveals its preliminary roster for their 2012 World Junior Team live on the NHL Network.

Until then, let’s take a look at both of the Spirit forwards’ cases for earning an invite to the squad:

On the surface, Saad would seem a likely candidate to get a camp invite; he came within a hair of making last year’s team before he was a surprise final cut, and was good enough to make the Chicago Blackhawks’ opening night roster.

He was dominant in his eight-game OHL stint after that, and returned Friday from a month-long absence do to injury. That and his wealth of international experience, playing for a year in USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, make him a likely selection.

Yet Saad made the curious decision this summer to decline an invitation to USA Hockey’s National Junior Evaluation camp in August, which could work against him in the selection process.

In their breakdown of Team USA hopefuls, Yahoo! Sports Canada doesn’t label Saad a "lock" or a "maybe", but gives them his own category, "riddle wrapped in a mystery wrapped in an enigma," because of that decision.

United States of Hockey also thinks Saad declining the summer camp invite could play a factor:

He probably deserves an invite. If he doesn’t get one, I will not be shocked, nor will I disagree with the decision. This is a very difficult situation to predict as there are so many moving parts. As good as Saad is when he’s on his game, there’s enough depth this year to make up for not having him. With so many complications to his candidacy for the team, I think it’d be understandable if Team USA decided to go in another direction.

Trocheck was also invited to that the summer camp, and he was one of 29 players to attend. In his third OHL season, the Pittsburgh native is 12th in league scoring, with 14 goals and 23 assists.

But as an 18-year-old, Trocheck still has one more year of World Junior eligibility. USA Hockey could opt for more experienced players in a deep field looking to make a U.S. team that has won medals in the last two world junior tournaments.

The Spirit already have one player who will go to a World Junior preliminary camp, after defenseman Jamie Oleksiak was invited to Team Canada’s camp last week. That camp kicks off Sunday, meaning Oleksiak will miss at least one of Saginaw’s two weekend games.

USA Hockey’s prelminary camp starts Dec. 16. The World Junior Tournament runs Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta.

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