This year’s World Junior Hockey Championship is a particularly interesting tournament for Leafs fans, as they’ll potentially have a handful of the team’s high-end prospects to watch over the holidays.
Over here at TLN we’re trying to keep track of who might be going where, and the latest tidbit of news regarding Toronto’s futures crop is a little bit of a surprise – 2015 2nd round pick Jeremy Bracco is not in the plans for Team USA.
Alex DeBrincat (Erie) will be amongst those announced tomorrow as attending @usahockey nat’l jr camp. Jeremy Bracco (Kitchener) will not.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) December 7, 2015
Now, the American team is known to be quite strong this year, so for a guy like Bracco, nothing was guaranteed. But this move is still surprising, and I’m not the only one who thinks so.
A couple of my go-to prospect writers are Chris Peters, out of CBS Hockey, and Tom Hunter, whose work can be found at Today’s Slapshot and his own site Puck Don’t Lie. Hunter included Bracco on his projected roster for the States when it was drawn up a couple weeks ago, and Peters weighed in on how the fierce competition for spots on this team squeezed the 60th overall pick out.
Those cuts (per @TSNBobMcKenzie) just another example of how tight USA’s forward competition is this year. Few years deeper than this.
— Chris Peters (@chrismpeters) December 7, 2015
This all seems pretty straight-forward; Bracco was just left off because this team is simply too good. But how about some other fun theories?
Bracco made headlines last month when he jumped ship from the NCAA after committing to (and even playing games for) Boston College, to head north and join the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers. I guess it isn’t inconceivable some questions were raised about Bracco’s “character” and “compete” after his slow start in Boston and in-season departure. Keep in mind there were some rumblings of this kind of thing when he fell so far in the draft.
It’s also worth noting that Ron Wilson will coach the States’ juniors this year, and as we all know, he hates the Leafs with every fiber of his being. So feel free to blame him too.
In all seriousness though, it looks like the USA will ice an extremely strong team later this month and perhaps Bracco just isn’t a fit with them. Whether it goes beyond his on-ice performance, well, who knows?