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United States 2021 World Juniors Odds to Win, Roster Breakdown, and Preview

Kevin Allen

by Kevin Allen in News

Dec 22, 2020 · 2:02 PM PST

Boston College goaltender Spencer Knight during an NCAA hockey game against the Wisconsin on Friday, Oct. 11, 2019 in Chestnut Hill, Mass. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
  • USA (+450) among three favorites to win World Junior Championship, while Canada is favored to repeat, and Russia is listed at +385 odds
  • The tournament, featuring the World’s best teen-age talent, will be held in Edmonton, Canada starting December 25th, 2020
  • Here is a look at USA’s roster and odds, plus an analysis of its chances

History wasn’t on USA’s side when the IIHF World Junior Championships started in 1977. USA only won one medal in the first 10 years, two in the first 20, and four in the first 30 years of the World Juniors tournament.

But thanks to America’s dramatic hockey growth, particularly to non-traditional hockey areas such as California, USA has become a regular contender at the WJC.

The Americans are considered a serious threat to win their fifth medal in the past six years. They have captured seven medals in the past 11 years. Three of those have been gold medals. Led by Florida Panthers first-rounder Spencer Knight in net and Montreal Canadiens top prospect Cole Caufield up front, USA has the third-best odds to win it all this year in Edmonton, Alberta.

Team USA’s 2021 World Junior Roster

Player/NHL Team Position Drafted
Spencer Knight (Florida Panthers) Goalie 2019, 13th (1st Round)
Logan Stein (Undrafted) Goalie 2021 Draft Eligible
Dustin Wolf (Calgary Flames) Goalie 2019, 214th (7th Round)
Brock Faber (Los Angeles Kings) Defenseman 2020, 45th (2nd Round)
Drew Helleson (Colorado Avalanche) Defenseman 2019, 47th (2nd Round)
Ryan Johnson (Buffalo Sabres) Defenseman 2019, 31st (1st Round)
Tyler Kleven (Ottawa Senators) Defenseman 2020, 44th (2nd Round)
Jackson LaCombe (Anaheim Ducks) Defenseman 2019, 39th (2nd Round)
Jake Sanderson (Ottawa Senators) Defenseman 2020, 5th (1st Round)
Hunter Skinner (New York Rangers) Defenseman 2019,112th (4th Round)
Henry Thrun (Ottawa Senators) Defenseman 2019, 101st (4th Round)
Cam York (Philadelphia Flyers) Defenseman 2019, 14th (1st Round)
Matthew Beniers (Undrafted) Forward Eligible 2021
Brett Berard (New York Rangers) Forward 2020, 134th (5th Round)
Matthew Boldy (Minnesota Wild) Forward 2020, 5th (1st Round)
Bobby Brink (Philadelphia Flyers) Forward 2019, 34th (2nd Round)
Brendan Brisson (Vegas Golden Knights) Forward 2020, 29th (1st Round)
Cole Caufield (Montreal Canadiens) Forward 2019, 15th (1st Round)
Sam Colengelo (Anaheim Ducks) Forward 2020, 36th (2nd Round)
John Farinacci (Arizona Coyotes) Forward 2019, 76th (3rd Round)
Arthur Kaliyev (Los Angeles Kings) Forward 2019, 33rd (2nd Round)
Patrick Moynihan (New Jersey Devils) Forward 2019, 158th (6th Round)
Landon Slaggert(Chicago Blackhawks) Forward 2020, 79th (3rd Round)
Alex Turcotte (Los Angeles Kings) Forward 2019, 5th (1st Round)
Trevor Zegras (Anaheim Ducks) Forward 2019, 9th (1st Round)

Americans Boast Strong Chance to Win the Gold

With a first-round NHL pick in net, three on defense and five more up front, USA has a roster that can compete against any team in the tournament.

With 25 goals and 48 points in his first 45 college games at Wisconsin, Caufield is expected to be a dynamic force in the tournament. Alex Turcotte and Zegras could easily be playing in the NHL when the season starts on Jan. 13. Boldy is off to a strong start at Boston College with eight points in his first four games.

Kaliyev wasn’t a first-rounder, falling to the Kings in the second round in 2019.  However, he has played like a first-rounder in the Ontario Hockey League over the past two seasons. He has netted 95 goals in two seasons with the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs. He can find the net.

Caufield might have the quickest shot release of any player in the tournament. He’s expected to be USA’s leading scorer in the tournament. Look for him to play with center Alex Turcotte who is a superb passer. The two have history together from their time together at U.S. National Team Development Program.

2021 IIHF World Junior Championship Odds

Country Odds
Canada +100
Russia +400
USA +500
Sweden +900
Finland +1500
Czech Republic +3300
Switzerland +8000
Germany +16000
Slovakia +16000
Austria +60000

Odds as of Dec. 22

Russia favored Over USA to win B Pool

While Russia is a slight favorite, most pundits would call this a toss-up based on the rosters. The Americans used to have difficulty with the Russians at the WJC. However, they are 4-1 in their last five meetings against the Russians, including a 3-1 win last season. Kaliyev led that effort with a pair of goals, and Knight was tight in nets. The Americans were 6-for-6 on the penalty kill against Russia.

In the NHL community, the USA vs Russia game will be looked at as Knight vs  Yaroslav Askarov who is Russia’s top goaltending prospect. He was Nashville’s first-round pick in the 2020 draft. Some scouts say Askarov will have an NHL impact like Andrei Vasilevskiy. But some scouts believe Knight could end up having the same level of NHL impact. In his pre-tournament interviews, Knight has indicated he is focused on giving USA a shot at winning this tournament.

One other factor to consider in assessing this pool is that Sweden has a skillful roster and is capable of upsetting both USA and Russia.

2021 IIHF World Junior Championship Group B Odds

Country Odds
Russia +180
USA +200
Sweden +250
Czech Republic +1500
Austria +25000

USA a Good Value Bet to Win the Gold

Given the team’s talent and the potential payoff, USA (+500) might give you the best value for a gold medal bet. Canada is trying to win its third gold medal in four years. The Canadians always deserve to be the favorite. But this American team has the kind of skill that gives them a shot, particularly with Knight in goal.

Canada offers you some security with a bet, but the Americans offer the chance for a larger payoff. The Americans haven’t won since 2017 but were second in 2019.

The key for the Americans will be avoiding a preliminary round upset that could give them a tougher path through the medal round. Another key for USA is getting key contributions up and down the lineup. Look for Sanderson to turn heads on defense.

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