Prospect preferences are about to get much more patriotic in Toronto, as the World Juniors are just three weeks away from beginning, well, at the Air Canada Centre in the Centre of the Universe (TM). At the end of the day, though, most in this city want to see the Leafs’ prospect succeed almost as much as Team Canada, even if it means they play for different countries.
Today, it was revealed that two recent draft picks might get the chance to do just that, as Jeremy Bracco and Joseph Woll have been named to Team USA’s preliminary rosters.
— USA Hockey (@usahockey) December 5, 2016
Least surprising of these two players, no doubt, is Jeremy Bracco. We wrote about him a few weeks ago when he extended his point streak with the Kitchener Rangers to 17 games. Well, it’s now Game 24 and he hasn’t stopped yet; the 2015 61st overall pick now has 16 goals and 33 assists in that span, placing him third in OHL scoring. Bracco wasn’t named to last year’s team, but played for Team USA at the 2015 U-18’s and the 2014 U-17’s, averaging just under two points per game in both tournaments and grabbing a pair of gold medals.
Woll, drafted at a very similar 62nd overall in 2016, is in the midst of his first season of NCAA hockey with Boston College. He’s doing pretty well, too; while he isn’t dominating his conference like Canucks prospect Thatcher Demko did for BC last year, he has a very respectable 0.919 save percentage over 15 games. Woll has also represented the USA at the U-17 (2015, Silver Medal), and U-18 (2016, Bronze Medal) levels, leading the latter tournament in save percentage (0.947) and GAA (1.34).
Bracco is all but a lock to be on the United States’ top six, while Woll will have to compete for his minutes. His rivals, undrafted 17-year-old Jake Oettinger and 19-year-old Calgary Flames prospect Tyler Parsons have been no slouches this year either; Oettinger has a 0.930 with nearby Boston University while Parsons is in the midst of his second consecutive 0.920+ season with the London Knights.
Hopefully, we’ll see both players take the ice against Team Canada in their future home rink on New Years Eve.