The first stage to finalizing the U.S. roster for the 2012 World Junior Championship was made by USA Hockey on Thursday with the release of the 40 skaters invited to the National Junior Evaluation Camp this August in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Among the players set to attend the camp, which will be held at Lake Placid's Olympic Center from Aug. 6-13, are seven returnees from last year's team that won the bronze medal in Buffalo. Defensemen Justin Faulk, Derek Forbort and Jonathan Merrill received invitations, as well as forwards Nick Bjugstad, Charlie Coyle, Emerson Etem and Jason Zucker. Zucker was also a member of the 2010 WJC team that won gold in Saskatoon.
Also invited were 17 players eligible for the 2011 Entry Draft. Among them are six players ranked in NHL Central Scouting's top 30 North American skaters for next month's draft -- Northeastern University defenseman Jamieson Oleksiak (No. 13), Saginaw Spirit forward Brandon Saad (19), U.S. National Team Development Program forward Tyler Biggs (22), USNTDP center Jonathan Miller (23) and USNTDP defenseman Connor Murphy (25), and Ottawa 67s center Shane Prince (26).
Anyone else already excited for how the US team will look next year?